You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:17-18)
How do we sin by resisting the need to rebuke or correct someone who has wronged us? Wouldn’t it be enough to forgive and forget? Or maybe that is the issue — we say we forgive but we don’t forget and, in time if we’re not careful, we realize that we haven’t really forgiven them at all. Carrying around a hurt that is unrecognized by the guilty party can foster ill feelings within us and cause us to think, say or do things that are unbecoming of a follower of Messiah. It doesn’t necessarily have to be acts committed against them but could include refusing to help that person with something that you would have ordinarily done for them. The point is, resentment tends to grow within us, and as it does, it manifests as vengeance and bearing a grudge — the sin mentioned in the Scripture.
On the other hand, to lovingly reprove someone demonstrates a consideration for their best interests, and at the same time, releases us from the inclination to harbor hateful things in our heart. To suppress the inclination to exact vengeance helps us to love our fellow instead of hating them. Consider Joseph’s response to his brothers or David’s attitude toward Saul. In both cases, the hurt inflicted upon them was monumental, however, they determined not to take vengeance upon the guilty. Instead, they forgave and left everything else to God — and He did not disappoint them.
One rabbinical source says: “If a man sin against you . . . speak peaceably to him. If he confesses and repents, forgive him. But if he be shameless and persists in his wrongdoing, even so forgive him from the heart and leave to God the avenging. Beware of hatred; for it works lawlessness even against the LORD Himself.” My interpretation of this last statement is this — if we say we love God with all of our heart, then He gets to make the rules and one of His primary rules says “Love your neighbor.” If we truly love our neighbor as ourselves, then we must acknowledge that love will not harm, harass or steal from someone else — and that includes, when necessary, loving correction.
Blessings and Shalom,