Before I was a Christian, if someone was unkind or rude to me, I responded to them even more rudely. After all, that is what our worldly culture says to do. It is all about revenge, an eye for an eye. You hurt me, I hurt you more. After awhile, treating people badly was my norm. It had become a habit.
After I became a Christian, I worked on staff at my former church. It had massive division problems, mainly from what I see now, many were not submitting to God’s will. I saw how much it damaged the mission of the church and how much it wounded people and promoted division—which is a fruit of Satan, not Jesus.
During this time, I realized I had a choice. I could return an eye for an eye or submit to Jesus and murder my will for revenge in exchange for His will.
I thought of how Jesus acted when he was unfairly accused before they murdered Him. He did not say a word to his accusers. I saw how I could diffuse negative situations by either not saying a word when people acted poorly, refusing to gossip, or responding to rudeness with kindness. Isaiah 53:7
It has not been easy, but the mission of the church is so badly damaged when we are divisive.
On the up side, when I feel particularly touched in a positive way by something someone in the church, or even outside the church, does or says, I try to acknowledge it. I compliment them and support them.
However, when I find myself in a conversation that appears to be leading to division, I purposefully don’t join in, and might even come to the defense of the one being talked about. And whenever someone does or says something hurtful, I try to think of Jesus on the cross saying, “Forgive them Father, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
Jesus defined forgiveness for me at that moment. He didn’t retaliate, seek revenge, hold a grudge, or cut off the ear of a Roman soldier who was arresting Him. He had been humiliated, tortured, condemned and was dying on the cross, and He was worried about US! He even miraculously grew the arresting soldier’s ear back and rebuked His disciple who had cut it off in defense of Jesus! Matthew 26:51; Mark 14:47; Luke 22:51; and John 18:10–11
He showed the kind of love and forgiveness to that Roman soldier that He wants me to show—to spread positive infection. He showed me how to live in the Spirit in a world filled with fleshly, imperfect people just like me. How to spread positive infection: live out of the love, submission, humility, trust and faith that IS Jesus Christ who died for my sins. He died for my sins so that I may have eternal life—a transformed life—that is able to positively “infect” others.
When someone hurts you, can you react in love? Wow! That is hard! But it is possible in Him!
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