LOVING THE UNLOVABLE
“I say to you, love your enemies…”
Do we forgive those who hurt us? The answer lies in Matthew 5:44 where Jesus tells us our behavior must radically differ from that of the world. “I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
What should we do when someone offends us? To ensure that we react with a Christ-centered response, we should first forgive the offender. Hurt, when not addressed properly, turns into bitterness and an unforgiving spirit. Through the grace of Jesus Christ, we have been given the spiritual resources to forgive others.
Ephesians 4:32 says: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Matthew 18:21&22 says: Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
To forgive someone means that we release them from a debt. Therefore, when we release someone from the debt we believe he/she owes, the spirit of unforgiveness and bitterness no longer binds us. We are free to see that individual as Christ does. Anger no longer has the power to rule our life.
Forgiveness does not mean that what the person did was right. It means that we have turned the person over to God. We are no longer holding on to the unforgiveness and we are free to love and to live freely for Jesus Christ.
Secondly, we should seek to understand before seeking to be understood. By seeking to listen, we can better understand the perspective of the offender and what might have motivated their actions or what may be taking place in the person’s life. Many times a person who hurts others is also a victim of hurt. Understanding the offender’s pain could be a way to step toward reconciliation.
Lastly, we should respond to offenses with non-combative yet truthful and loving words. When we speak the truth in love, it does not mean that our words will lack impact. Sometimes the truth can be very unsettling and the one who is confronted with the truth needs time to grapple with these tough issues. Only the Lord can work in a person’s heart. We can pressure the person for an apology, but God is the one who must convict that person. Our best course of action is to extend patience, love and forgiveness because this is what the Lord extends to us. And perhaps one day, even our “worst enemy” could become our best friend in Christ. Whatever the result, we can be sure of God’s blessing as we seek His way of dealing with those who hurt us.
Proverbs 16:21 says: “The wise in heart will be called understanding and the sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.”
Dear Lord: We are asking you today to teach us how to love, understand, and speak truthfully to those we believe have hurt us. Please help us to see everyone as you do. Please help us to love our enemies because You have never stopped loving us. Amen.