Revenge or Forgiveness?


In the Middle Ages, when the lords and knights were always at war with each other, there was a duke who decided to revenge himself on a neighbour who had offended him. On the very evening when the duke had made this resolution, he heard that his enemy was going to pass near his castle, with only a very few men with him. It was a good opportunity to take his revenge, and the duke determined not to let it pass.

The duke spoke of his plan in the presence of his chaplain. The chaplain, a good man, tried in vain to persuade him to give it up. He said a great deal to the duke concerning the sinfulness of what he was about to do, but it was all in vain. At last, seeing that all his words had no effect, the chaplain said:

“My lord, since I cannot persuade you to give up this plan of yours, you will at least come with me to the chapel, so that we can pray together before you go?”

The duke consented, and the chaplain and he knelt together in prayer. Then, the mercy-loving chaplain said to the revengeful warrior, “Will you repeat after me, sentence by sentence, the prayer which Jesus Himself taught to His disciples?”

“I will do it,” replied the duke.

He did it accordingly. The chaplain said a sentence of the Lord's Prayer, and the duke repeated it. So it went until they came to the petition, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” There the duke fell silent.

“My lord duke, you are silent,” said the chaplain. “Will you be so good as to continue to repeat the words after me, if you dare to do so: forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us?”

“I cannot say it,” replied the duke.

“Well,” said the chaplain, “then God cannot forgive you any of your trespasses. You will not forgive your neighbour his trespass against you; you are determined to take your revenge on him. To ask God to forgive you as you forgive others is to ask Him to take vengeance on you for all your sins - for that is how you propose to treat your neighbour. Go now, my lord, and confront your victim. And remember that God will confront you on the great day of judgment.”

The iron will of the duke was broken. “No,” he said, “I will finish my prayer. My God, my Father, forgive me; forgive me as I desire to forgive the one who has offended me. Lead me not into temptation! Deliver me from evil!”

“Amen,” said the chaplain. “Amen,” repeated the duke, who now tasted from his God the forgiveness he had extended to his neighbour.

If I would have the forgiveness that flows from Christ, I must be willing to forgive. There is no other way the pardon He purchased on the cross can be mine.


James 2:13 “He shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy.”

Ephesians 1:7 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”