“…Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…” Mt. 5:44
This may come as a surprise. Maybe something you don’t want to hear. Or heard before and shoved away. Maybe you need the reminder. Is someone hurting you? Is there some sort of ongoing hurt in your life? Hurt like heck? Some days it’s an ache? Some days a wide open wound? Sometimes you hurt so badly you feel you can’t see around the hurt? Like the hurt’s going to swallow you alive? This message may be for you, but it’s not about you. It’s about the person hurting you.
The person hurting you may be someone in need. It may be hard to think about, but I beg you to consider this. The Lord commands us to love and forgive people. That goes without saying. Pastors, Christian counselors, devotionals, Christian books, followers of Christ mentoring us, Christian retreat speakers, etc. typically remind us God commands us to have mercy on the people who hurt us. But sometimes we fail to go one vitally important step further. In preaching. In hearing. In doing. The step beyond loving and forgiving with Christ’s love in God’s strength. The step of seeing the person hurting us as someone in need of the Lord Jesus Christ, of the Gospel message, of Christ’s love, of God’s forgiveness through Christ, of healing, hope, mercy, God’s Word, encouragement, help, support, peace, of finding Christ, of learning how to follow Christ, of prayer, of seeing Christ in us, and through us, of needing God’s grace and to see it visibly, tangibly, blatantly, of needing to see Christ’s light through a human, to hear the message of Christ and to see it in human skin.
What if concerning the person hurting you is an opportunity to love, to forgive – and to demonstrate the love of Christ in action, whether through prayer, even ongoing prayer, kindness, a loving word, the gift of a Bible, a hug, mercy, compassion, support, help with something, modeling Christlikeness, to bestow a blessing upon, or many blessings, etc.? Seems impossible, right? But when it’s God’s will, He by His Spirit via His Word will equip us to love, help, and bless the one hurting us.
Need a role model? Think this isn’t biblical? Christ on the cross, being crucified, bearing all the world’s sins and God’s wrath at us for our sins upon Himself so we could have eternal life if we repent and believe in Him, devoting our lives to Him, did this: He loved. He forgave. And gave. He laid down His life for the world for whom He was crucified, for whom He endured more pain than anyone will ever endure. He loved, forgave, and sacrificed His life for us. Is there someone hurting you the Holy Spirit is leading you to love, forgive, and help and bless in Christ’s name?