The Heart Of Peace (ATP)
In a recent sermon, Pastor Jeff touched on letting it go when people are mean to you. I’m struggling with this, not the idea, but how to do it. I have people in my life who regularly do or say very hurtful things… some are even Christians. I cannot confront them because no matter how lovingly I do, it’s turned around on me and they become a victim. I’m in a situation where there’s a couple people who are coming against me for this very reason. I know I need to let it go but it continues to happen and I continue to walk away feeing hurt and sad. How can I overcome this without drastically limiting their role in my life, if that’s possible?
Forgiveness is maybe one of the hardest tests we will have to pass. This is because the very basis of what it deals with is our feelings. Really, forgiveness or the lack there of, is all about how we feel. I’m going to share some scripture, but also some testimony.
I’ve been an emotional person all my life. I’ve also dealt with a lot of personal hurt. One of the earliest concepts we come across as a Christian is that of forgiveness. Why, you may wonder is this? I believe that it is because it deals with the core thing we all must overcome… ourselves. The inability to forgive is actually selfish. To go even further, selfishness is really a form of pride! Pride is self-centeredness and when people struggle with the inability to forgive it is because their pride is hurt. Now before I go on, you who are asking this question may feel like I am beating up on you when you only came for answers! I assure you I am not, however we can’t fix a problem until we get to the root. No judgement on you, all people (as in every single person) will deal with this.
There were some key people I have had to forgive in life. In fact, because of what I am called to do for the Lord, it was IMPOSSIBLE for me to go further without forgiving these people. Most Christians would agree that we are called to love people, even our enemies. Well let’s look at some scripture the Lord always points me to when I am mad or upset at someone. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 says, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;” Let’s look at a few key parts of these two scriptures. Love suffers long and is kind and love does not seek its own. Love never seeks to be treated the way it would treat others. The Bible really draws us to what seems like a hard place. That is, do right by people without expecting them to do right by you! Really God?!?
This is a hard concept for us to receive and in reality, it filters into many areas of life of which I will not now go into. Living in forgiveness is important to God because when we do so we live in peace. 2 Corinthians 13:11 says, “Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” I think this scripture is a key to why. Notice the last part tells us God is a god of love and peace. He wants our nature to be His nature. That is because His nature is where His fullness and true fellowship is found. Living in love and peace puts us in His presence. He knows this but so does the devil, which is why we have to learn to deal with it right. Forgiveness really has very little to do with the other person but it has a lot to do with the one who is hurt.
When I am dealing with why I have to forgive people the Lord reminds me, because He did for me. “But God, they hurt me!” They did also to Jesus. “They are insulting me!” They did also to Jesus. “This isn’t fair!” It likewise wasn’t to Jesus. We are supposed to act like Him. We see in Stephen the martyr, even as they were stoning him and gnawing at his flesh, he responded, “Forgive them Lord, they don’t know what they do!” Wow!
Now forgiveness deals with our feelings and our attitude. What about all the other aspects. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” If it is possible and if it is up to you, you choose peace. Sometimes people make it impossible. When they do then we have to choose accordingly. The basic premise is this, I should get my feelings settled to the point where they can’t be hurt. If I do this but someone insists on abuse or attacking me even though I act right I may have to peacefully separate myself from them. Either way we have to work on our heart until what people say and do makes no difference to us. I once had a situation where this man hated me and not for good reasons. He would say terrible things to other people about me and treated me horrible if I ever ran into him. Well one day I ran across him at a little diner in the middle of nowhere. He didn’t see me but I saw him, it was quite busy that day. Well the Holy Spirit started dealing with my heart and I knew what I was to do. I went to the waitress and bought his breakfast. Now I would have just as soon spit in it as buy it but that wouldn’t have been very Christlike! You know what’s amazing? He thanked me and from that day on was much more pleasant toward me. I’m not saying we get together and enjoy each other’s company, but when I’ve had to be around him it’s not near as bad. That one Holy Ghost inspired act made a huge difference!
Something happened that day that the Lord has shown me that many people may never see. That man’s hatred for me, founded or unfounded also caused him to sin which only gives the devil more ground. By doing something that eliminated that hate, the devil’s power was neutralized. If more people would get that revelation, imagine the change the world would see! As much as it’s up to us, we must choose love and peace!
What I encourage you to do is forgive, even if you have no reason to. Don’t let the devil have any ground in your life or around you. Look to God to heal hurt and ask Him for the strength. In it you will find His grace will put you right where you need to be. If you patiently wait on and look to the Lord, He will use these uncomfortable situations to teach and grow you. Never accept abuse, but as much as it’s possible, live in peace.