“You cut people off too quickly”…”You never allow people to right their wrong”…”You have justice issues”…These are words my mother has spoken to me plenty of times throughout life. She’s right, for as long as I can remember, I have struggled with how to interact with people after they hurt or offend me. Instead of talking things out, if someone hurt me, I cut them off or, I went into revenge mode…and then I cut them off. Often my revenge looked like saying the meanest things possible so that my offender could feel pain like I had. Or, it looked like being completely cold as I watched them struggle with my treatment of them. I’ve always felt justified in this behavior. After all, if you do something wrong, you should pay the consequence, right? I’d be nice to say that I have become a super saint and I no longer possess this trait. But, the truth is, I do. I can reconcile with someone if we were both wrong in the situation; “hey let’s forgive each other”. However, if I am right and you have wronged me, farewell.
More recently, I have been reflecting on how I feel towards, and treat, those who have disrespected, used, hurt or offended me. As you may have guessed, anyone in this category of my life has been cut off. In social media terms, “My fall back game is strong,” And while I have been okay with treating my enemies however I see fit, God has been dealing with my heart on the matter. Well, to be honest, while I was searching for scripture trying to justify my stance, God slapped me a couple times with some of his words in Luke 6:27-36:
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But, love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be the children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your father is merciful” NIV
When your trying to find a scripture to justify treating your enemies like they are disposable, this is probably not the scripture you want to find. Crazy thing is, I did not find this scripture, it found me and, it found me exactly when I needed to be reminded how God calls Christians to love differently than those of the world. I’ve read and reflected on this scripture daily. Initially, after reading it, I said, “Now I ain’t nobody’s punk, Jesus.” Reading it through the lens of my flesh, that is what I felt like the scripture was telling me. I felt like God was saying, “Yeah Britt, if someone just mollywhops you on one side of your head, turn to the other side and let them get a two for one, smile and say God bless you.” I felt like he was telling me, “When someone walks all over you, dust yourself off, lay back down, and let them trample over you a second time.” Despite feeling like this, I read the scripture and prayed about it daily and then I heard God tell me say, “I was not a punk when I laid down my life for a sinner like you even when I knew you’d repeatedly offend me during your life.”
I wish this was a message where I could end telling you it is easy to learn to love your enemies in the way that Christ commands. I wish this was a blog that could end in me sharing steps about how to show love to those who have wronged you. The fact of the matter is I’m not there yet. I have a coworker at work who I ignore, I have people in my life who I stopped speaking to without even giving them the opportunity to acknowledge and right their wrong. There’s a person who has apologized to me and yet I still barely acknowledge their existence.
This message ends in me asking for prayer. And, I am certain that there is someone reading who needs the same prayer as I do. I am at a point where I am getting better with not committing the more obvious sins that we always seem to harp on. Nevertheless, my heart is unforgiving and at times I can be cold. Being right doesn’t justify my lack of forgiveness. I must learn to show mercy as God has shown unto me. I am challenging myself to love and forgive when it is not easy. If we share the same struggle, I challenge you to do so as well. Christ loved us enough to forgive us of our transgressions. He calls us to do the same. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 NIV