One of the best ways to tell whether you’ve forgiven someone is to think about that person and what he or she has done to you. Not just a vague recollection, but actually replaying the scene in your mind as nearly as you can remember. If there’s a bit of angst or bitterness, then there’s a grudge. It may not be a large one, but it’s still there.
Often, this feeling is accompanied by a wish that this person gets their comeuppance. You either want something bad to happen to them, often in the name of “justice”, or you want them to at least pay you back.
The truth is you can’t say you’ve forgiven someone if you secretly want to throw a badger at them. Proverbs 24:17-18 says we are not to rejoice when our enemy stumbles, lest God see our mirth and turn His wrath from them.
When we want something bad to happen to someone else, we do several things:
1. We put ourselves in God’s place on the Throne of Judgment.
2. We say that Jesus’ sacrifice is insufficient, as they still deserve our punishment.
3. We fail to love them as we love ourselves. (How many of us don’t want mercy?)
4. We forget that we are every bit as doomed without Jesus’ intervention as they would be.
5. We forget what they’re doing to themselves in causing a rift in their relationship with God. That is a significant punishment already, but He might add to it as He sees fit. It is not our business what He chooses to do with someone else’s sin; it is sufficient to know He is willing to forgive it and He has forgiven us.