A life overflowing with Jesus is one that truly reflects His love for those around us. Often this really isn’t easy. People hurt us with their words, actions and attitudes, and we become offended by the way we are treated. Sometimes people disappoint us by the way they are reacting and, even after years of reaching out to them and praying for them, we see no difference. So, our reaction is often to withdraw from them in order to protect ourselves from further hurt. Or we may even get angry and lash out. Sometimes we give up on them and turn to criticising and judging.
The truth is that we do get hurt, disappointed and offended. These are all very real feelings and, when our motive towards someone else was sincere and from a place of godly love, their offensive ways can bring deep hurt and disappointment. Why should we continue caring, and why should we continue praying for them? The answer that always comes to my mind is that Jesus never stops loving us (the other person too!) and He never gives up on someone. And that settles it for me.
It’s not a matter of brushing your own hurt under the table, or even excusing the other person’s actions. We have to work through what happened, and the best way is to turn to God and tell Him exactly how you feel and why it hurts. Pour your heart and your frustrations out before Him. It also helps to look at the situation more objectively and ask yourself why the other person is reacting the way they are. Ask God to show you the reason and, in time, He will.
We don’t always like doing this, because often we like holding on to the offence for a while. We react self-righteously and that’s when we start criticising and judging. A few years ago I was in a similar situation where I, sadly, offended someone and, in the process of apologising, I was actually rejected. So, my natural reaction was to withdraw. When an offer to reconcile then came from the other person, I actually felt like protecting myself and giving up on the friendship.
But when I prayed about it, the message I received over the next few days was that I had to ‘get off my little pedestal’. Wow, that wasn’t what I had expected! I asked the Lord what that meant, and I realised that I was acting self-righteously and doing exactly the same as the other person had done. We were both reacting from a place of hurt. I was putting my own feelings first and not showing God’s love and forgiveness. Thankfully the friendship was restored.
There are times when we need to withdraw from a relationship, but it’s important to hear this from the Lord and to allow Him to heal any hurting places in order to free us from harbouring pain and offence. This will enable us to forgive and not condemn, as we read in today’s verse. This process often takes time, but don’t give up on this journey with the Lord, because the fruit will bring much joy to your heart and draw you nearer to your Father . “What you say flows from what is in your heart.” (Luke 6:45 NLT).
Prayer: Dear Lord, my desire is to follow in Your footsteps in all I do and say. So often I falter and fall. But in You there is endless mercy and grace - thank You so much for never giving up on me. Please help me to extend this mercy to the people in my life that have hurt me. Please heal my pain and guide me with Your wisdom in all the relationships and situations I find myself in. Amen.
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