“Two wrongs don’t make a right”. We’ve all heard this phrase before, usually from an older, wiser, more seasoned individual who is seeking to prevent a younger person from making a mistake. It’s our basic instinct to want to “right” a wrong in the most destructive way possible. Why is revenge or payback our first inclination when someone hurts us?
Last night I watched an episode of a TV show where a character did something to hurt his boyfriend. His (the perpetrator’s) brilliant solution was for the one who was hurt (the victim) to do something to the other (the perpetrator) to hurt him back. In other words “an eye for an eye”. This was a modern day use of Hammurabi’s Code, which was useful for keeping peace and order in ancient Mesopotamia, but seems less appropriate in the 21st century.
While two offenses can equal each other out, it doesn’t solve the problem, it just creates (or perpetuates) a cycle of hurt and abuse. Hurting people hurt people, so if I hurt you because you first hurt me, I am merely upping the ante and setting you up to hurt me again. Then the cycle continues, spiraling out of control as the hurt increases, no matter how much love or respect is given and received.
The only thing that will cancel out the hurt and expunge the record of wrongs is forgiveness.
By man’s logic, a hurt must be paid for. If left unpunished, one party gets the “high ground” that can be used against the other at any time. This is the beautiful thing about love as described in 1 Corinthians 13:
“Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel”
Love and forgiveness are inextricably intertwined. When you love someone you’ll forgive them, even if it’s difficult, even if it takes a while for complete forgiveness to take place. Forgiveness is an act of love and a healthy way to right those wrongs that have been done. Forgiveness isn’t letting a person off the hook or inviting them to hurt you again, it’s a way of saying “I don’t like what you did, but I’m willing to not hold it against you for my sake and yours”.
Let’s do our part to stop the cycle of hurt and abuse. Let’s try a better way; let’s love and forgive instead.