When Unforgiveness Turns Into Malice

Photo by Eyasu Etsub

And Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad; For Absalom hated Amnon because he had humbled his sister Tamar.

2 Samuel 13:22

Amnon had fallen in love with his half-sister Tamar and through evil advice, he made a plan to rape her. 2 Samuel 13: 1-19 When he did, Absalom, Tamar’s brother hated him because he had defiled and humiliated his sister. Tamar’s offense becomes his. Tamar’s injustice also became his. And we are told that he would say nothing to Amnon because he hated him.


We can take on other people’s offenses.

It’s very easy to find ourselves carrying the hurt of the people close to us. When we do, their offenses and unforgiveness also become ours. We can carry our parent’s offenses; our siblings or even our spouses or children’s offenses. The mere fact that they are close to us means we are directly impacted by their pain. Tamar’s injustice became Absalom’s. What had been done to Tamar was horrible and Absalom had every right to feel angry.

But, we have to be careful that our anger for other people’s hurt doesn’t become an offense we carry because it will mislead us. We can pray with those who hurt. We can weep with them but we have to protect ourselves from their offenses. God has not called us to carry other people’s offenses, but He has called us to bear other people’s burdens and bring them before Him in prayer.

Unrighteous justice.

Whenever we decide that we are better at repaying the injustices of those we love we take the place of God. Only God can mete out righteous justice where there has been an injustice. Absalom decides to take justice into his own hands and gets his half-brother killed. 2 Samuel 13:28-29 His sister’s hurt had become his, it then turned into hatred and finally turned into murder. Absalom felt the need to repay Amnon for what he had done to his sister and according to him, Amnon deserved death.

Unforgiveness makes us unrighteous judges. Offenses make us cruel judges. That’s why it is important to allow God to bring justice where there has been injustice. When we have been wronged our ability to judge is impaired because we will judge people through our hurt. God never judges people through anger or hurt. He sees situations correctly and can see even what is hidden from our natural eyes. We have to be careful to make sure that we are handing out to people what we want to be handed to us. We have to remember that we have sinned against God and others too.

The standard, you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. Matthew 7:2

When we believe that God has been unjust.

We get ourselves into trouble when we begin to think that God has been unjust to repay our hurts and injustices. Sometimes, it takes a long time before we see the justice of the Lord. God isn’t ultimately looking to take people out but to redeem and reconcile them.

Romans 2:4 reminds us that we shouldn’t treat with contempt the riches of his kindness, forbearance, and patience because God’s kindness is intended to lead us into repentance.

Where we see a delay in justice is actually God dealing kindly with people. It’s Him being forbearing and bringing people into repentance. But when people refuse His kindness then they have set themselves on the path of judgment. God isn’t unjust, He wants to redeem and restore people in love. He isn’t quick to condemn as we are. He isn’t quick to judge people as we are. But ultimately He will not leave an injustice uncompensated. He will heal us and restore us even as He redeems those who have hurt and dealt unjustly with us.

Righteous justice isn’t when we see people hurting and suffering as we have; it is when God heals and restores us to see people who have hurt us through His redemptive love.

Unforgiveness turned malice.

When we fester offenses for a long time they will turn into hateful malice. Malice is a desire to cause harm to people; it is an intentional plot to bring harm to others.

Because Absalom held unforgiveness towards his brother eventually it turned into malice. He plots harm and instructs people to kill his brother Amnon.

We have to be careful about offenses. If left unattended they can become bigger problems and lead us into greater sin. People don’t start out wanting to kill others. It only starts as little offenses in their heart, offense eventually turns into hatred, and hatred into malice.

Everyone who hates ( works against) his brother[in christ] is [ at heart] a murderer[ by God’s standards]; 1 John 3:15 God calls hatred murder because anything that is birthed from this will not bring good to our brothers and sisters but do them harm.

Father, I pray for anyone reading this that has been hurt and treated unjustly by others. I pray for their hearts that they will choose forgiveness even where it feels impossible. May you help them lay down their desire for justice and trust that you are a righteous judge. May you heal their wounds and give them your heart where the offenders are concerned. What was done to them or their loved ones was horrible and you don’t justify it. May you bring great redemption in their situations for your glory. We pray this in Jesus might name! Amen!

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