Have you ever paid for someone else’s sin? Most of us try and avoid paying any penalty that is not duly ours. As kids, with siblings or classmates, when accused of something perpetrated by some other kid, we emphatically plead our innocence and threw the other guy as far under the bus as possible. No way are we going down for their misdeeds. I mean, I did plenty that I was guilty of all on my own, did I need to pay the price for what someone else had done, too?
I am guilty of making someone else pay for the misdeeds of another. Just ask my kids. I am sure I mistakenly punished the wrong one from time to time. I don’t worry about it too much, though, because I figure with all the shenanigans going on while raising those four, it all came out in the wash one way or another.
That’s not what I am talking about. I’m talking about when those unfortunate circumstances come along, and we find ourselves in a relationship where someone has behaved in a way that is abusive towards us, and every subsequent similar figure in our lives pays the price for the wrongdoings of a completely different person. I’ve done that to someone. I am guilty of making someone new pay for what I see in my rear view mirror.
I once had a boss for which, at times, I found it very difficult to work. There were conversations I avoided, situations I steered clear of, just because I didn’t want to deal with her. It worked most of the time, but sometimes things just had to be talked about. I would worry myself for days and weeks ahead, steeling myself for the berating that would come when I sat down to talk to her. Understand, I loved this person. Most of the time, we did fine together, but on those occasions when I had to bring up certain things that should I even mention them, most of you would think silly and matter of fact, she had a hard time maintaining her reasonable demeanor… and that’s putting it mildly.
I have since moved on from that job, but the boss I had next paid dearly for a long time. And I did, too. I was no longer in that less than ideal relationship, but I behaved as if I still was. I finally came clean with my new boss and explained my dread and anxiety over talking to her about very usual and customary things that bosses and employees talk about. We talked about my previous employer and the things she did that made it very difficult at times. She assured me again and again that she was not like my previous boss, and that we could talk reasonably about anything. It still took me a long time to believe that things could be different. I had been wounded by my previous boss, conditioned to behaviors that I didn’t even have to deal with anymore, and it was hard for me to believe that my new boss would be any different.
It was unfair. I had no right to make this new person pay for the sins of someone she had never even met… Never even heard of. It took me a lot of time, and if I am completely honest, while I am so much better, I’m not completely over it. And that abuse pales in comparison to what some of you have endured, but it is no less fair for you to make the new person in your life continue paying for the sins carried out by someone else. It is an abuse of it’s own kind. They are paying the price for sins they did not commit. If you learned anything from your previous experience, you have chosen better people to be in your life this time. If you didn’t learn… well, then… isn’t about time you did learn?
If we are still making someone pay for the abuses we suffered in the past, then we have not completely moved on from them. We have not chased it to the end and experienced real freedom from it. It is a burden to carry. I get it. I do. I carry my own, but in looking around, even just in close proximity, I see it happening with others again and again. So I truly believe that, in these cases, we are not experiencing real and lasting freedom from our past. We owe it to the people in our lives now, the ones who love us in spite of where we have been and the hurts we carry. We owe it to them to stop making them pay for things they did not do to us.
To willingly pay for someone else’s sin is the sign of an extraordinary person. Jesus took the sin of the whole world, for all time, on His shoulders. Extraordinary does not come close to describing His sacrifice. Only He was equipped to handle such abuse. He has paid for it all, the sins you have committed and those committed against you. The bill is settled. Because of Jesus, we can walk in true freedom. We can leave the past in the past, and move forward to the abundant life He promised. Excusing our poor behavior because of a past experience only goes so far before we become the abuser. The people in our lives now deserve better than that.