Today, I had a man contact me because I had slept with his wife, and he needed to hear my side of the story.
Yes, you are still on a the correct website. This happened around 20 years ago. And while the man had forgiven his wife long ago, he was contacting me because there was still something unresolved with me. He needed to hear “my side”. And (even though neither of us were living under Levitical law), I knew that I would have stood condemned under the law:
“If a young woman who is a virgin is engaged (legally betrothed) to a man, and another man finds her in the city and is intimate with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and stone them to death—the young woman because she did not cry out for help [though she was] in the city, and the man because he has violated his neighbor’s [promised] wife. So you shall remove the evil from among you. “However, if the man finds the girl who is engaged (legally betrothed) in the [open] field, and seizes her and is intimate with her [by force], then only the man who lies with her shall be put to death. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no sin worthy of death, for this is the same as when a man attacks his neighbor and murders him. When he found her in the [open] field, the engaged girl [may have] cried out for help, but there was no one to [hear and] save her.
Deuteronomy 22:23-27 AMP
Back then, I knew that she was engaged, but I still flirted, tempted, and engaged in infidelity with this man’s betrothed. And he would have every right to stand before God and demand justice for my treachery, for my wickedness, for my ignoring the sanctity of marriage and hurting two marriages in the process. And I could say nothing to defend myself before God, because I knew what I was doing, yet I still let my youthful passions take advantage of her naive curiosity.
Some may read this about me, and may never want to listen to anything I have to say about God or Jesus — and I understand your concern. What kind of wicked, evil, perverse man, selfish man does such things? The “old man” does — the “dead man” does — the “sinner in need of saving” from the traps and tricks of the enemy does such things — while seeking everywhere he can for something to fill the God sized hole inside himself.
Before I came to know Jesus and began to walk in The Way, I hurt, cheated, lied to, and wronged a lot of people — and I didn’t care as long as it didn’t cost me anything. Some of you reading this might know me from real life, and you may have been on the receiving end of the kinds of thorns and thistles that people have felt as my life brushed past yours. And I’m not saying that I never ever hurt anyone anymore, because I still make mistakes. But there has been a shift that I hope impacts my relationships with others in a different way now.
So imagine, 20 years later, remembering and contemplating (now that you actually care about others) whether anything you say might further hurt this man you’ve already wronged. And not because you’re trying to avoid him showing up one day and killing you or beating you up — but genuinely aching for the pain you have caused that would remain as a barb in his paw 20 years later — and genuinely wanting to help him through the healing process, but not even knowing whether he wants vengeance or reconciliation.
I’m not a trained psychologist/therapist, nor did I know what to do other than to transparently and honestly admit very simply that his accusations of infidelity were accurate, but that it was simply youthful lust and naive curiosity, and that it was clearly a mistake of a couple of college aged kids. And I assured him that all it proved at the time was that sex is a poor substitute for love — she clearly loves him — and that he is an honorable man, and that I lived too much of my life as a worm.
And this man spoke of the importance of confession and forgiveness, and of how he had hated me for so long, and that he wanted to forgive me.
He wanted to forgive me.
Totally undeserved forgiveness…
My remorse today doesn’t make up for my wickedness 20 years ago. I saw Jesus in his behavior towards me, and I was both humbled and inspired.
I have been dealing with a situation where I felt wronged, personally attacked — and I was not quick to forgive. I had let the offense build because I had not dealt with it and I had not forgiven the person who wronged me. I’ve been trying to work through this with my study of vengeance and forgiveness, and the recent Saul and David lesson. But it wasn’t reading something and understanding it intellectually that “unlocked me”. It was seeing this man forgive me for something that (without the love of Christ) might be considered “unforgivable”.
Oh my goodness. I’m such a hypocrite! I can’t forgive someone for insulting me personally and attacking me professionally — but Christ shed His blood on the cross to forgive me for infidelity that impacted two marriages and four families — and He put it on this man’s heart to seek me out and forgive me? Obviously, I can’t teach you a lot about being religious and hiding your faults and having a spotless, honourable reputation — but if you have sinned and need forgiveness yourself, or you have someone you need to forgive — I can tell you about this man Jesus who changed my life!
So, I reached out to the person who I felt had bullied and wronged me, and I forgave them. Not in a “I’m going to forgive you because I’m a better man and you are evil” kind of way, but with a truly surrendered heart. And I feel SO MUCH BETTER.
A lot of people will use Phillipians 4:19 to talk about physical needs like air, water, food, clothes, shelter, and security, but “filling to full” and “according to His riches” is about a whole lot more than what we might “think we need”:
And my God will liberally supply (fill until full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19 AMP
Sometimes there is a sickness in our blood like unforgiveness and offense that would be quicker at killing us spiritually than being jobless might put us at risk physically.
Lord, thank you for knowing what you are doing. Thank you for turning what was meant for evil to good and for your glory. Thank you for your amazing example of forgiveness and mercy that we can participate in with each other “in remembrance of you” just like communion — restoring unity in a relationship that was once damaged and fractured. Thank you for providing for our every need — not just what we think we need. I’m sorry that I don’t always trust you even though I know you are trustworthy. I’m sorry that I don’t always forgive or love. Please heal my deep mistrust of others, my hurt from past experiences that has taught me not to trust others — and forgive my breaking the trust of others and hurting others in the past. Please help me to truly love others and trust you — heal my heart, open my eyes, do whatever you need to do to help me be more like you — for your honor — and so that I am not a thorn in the lives of others but am a savory fruit. Please Lord, help me. Amen.