Think of a time that you were offended by someone.
You very probably had every justifiable right to be offended by someone else’s actions.
They could have done something that would be considered as hurtful by any reasonable person in the same situation.
It was something that would have caused anyone to be hurt, and so you feel fully reasonable and justified in feeling hurt by their actions.
Now, at this point you have a choice.
Yes, even though you might be completely justified in being hurt, you still have a choice.
Popular psychology, society, your parents, friends, and favorite tv personalities would all say that you don’t have a choice. That if someone does something hurtful to you, you don’t have a choice but to feel hurt. That if you don’t accept the hurt and learn to cope with it, that you are in denial.
I’m not talking about denying that someone did something hurtful. I’m not talking about saying that what they did was in any way “right”, “ok”, acceptable, permissible, or something that can be ignored or rationalized away. I’m not even saying that they don’t deserve to be punished for what they did.
Truly, if someone does something hurtful to you, they are responsible for those actions and the consequences regardless of how you react to it.
Hello, did you get that? If someone does something hurtful to you, they are responsible for those actions and their consequences regardless of how you react to it.
Choosing not to react in kind to someone’s offense does not alleviate that person of the responsibility for what they have done; all you do is decide to let God judge them instead of you.
Trust me, God is a much better judge than you ever could be.
What I am saying is that you have a choice in how much you let what they did impact your life.
It will only impact you as much as you let it. It will only have as much power over you as you let it. It will only be as big as you make it. It will only control you as much as you tolerate it. You will only be victim to it as much as you allow it.
It doesn’t take any faith or special talent for you to accept the hurt and let it take root in your heart. Anyone can do that.
It is the natural reaction of your flesh. The flesh will want to internalize the hurt, and use the hurt as an excuse to have a pity party and pass that hurt on to someone else.
Your flesh loves pity parties. Your flesh loves it when people feel sorry for you and sympathize with you. Your flesh wants to have everyone agree with you, that you have been wronged, and the other person is the bad guy. Your flesh wants the excuse of being a victim for your own poor behavior. Your flesh wants the excuse to turn around and do hurtful things back and feel fully justified in your reaction. Your flesh wants you to listen to your emotions and feelings.
I tell you, when you do that, when you internalize that hurt and react to it, it is its own “reward”.
Otherwise, when you do that, you are reacting under your own power and not trusting God to act on your behalf. If you are not trusting God to act in your behalf, then He won’t.
By not trusting God to act, you are effectively saying: “God, this person deserves my scorn and I don’t want you to interfere. I can handle it, I can punish them better than you can.”
Interestingly enough, people will react this way, and then turn around and get mad at God for not doing anything about their situation.
They will let the evil act plant a seed of bitterness in them. They will water those bitter seeds by “meditating” or rehearsing/replaying the hurt over and over (oh, yeah, the flesh really loves to do that too!) that way they can feel the hurt over and over again.
The more they do this, the stronger it takes root in their heart. Out of the overflow of hurt and bitterness in their heart, they turn around and pour it out on people around them. This continues the cycle of hurt, it sows hurt and bitterness in others around you.
Instead of letting it get so far, nip it immediately. Choose not to be offended.
If you choose not to be offended, if you choose not to be hurt, then this is effectively saying: “God, I trust you to take care of me. I see your love as being bigger, more influential, and more powerful than anything anyone else can do to me.”
Repay no one evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as far as is in you, being in peace with all men. Not avenging yourselves, beloved, but giving place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him. If he thirsts, give him drink. For in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The Message Bible puts it this way:
Rom 12:19 Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
Would God tell you how to react without giving you the ability to choose to do it that way?
What does it mean to do something in faith?
Particularly in this case, reacting in faith is to choose to put more trust in God’s Word than in feelings. Acting in faith is to obey God’s Word rather than what your flesh is crying out for.
We can do everything God says we can do because of the strength that Jesus has given us. the Holy Spirit (the Comforter; the Spirit of power, love, and a sound mind) gives us the strength to manage our thoughts and reactions. change the way you think, your feelings will eventually catch up.
Pro 23:7 for as he thinks in his heart, so is he
When you put your trust in God, then that is saying to God: “I trust you to hold this person accountable for their actions. I know you can have a greater impact on them than I ever could myself.”
When you react spitefully, all you will accomplish is returning bitterness back to the person who hurt you. You react this way because you doubt that God will do anything about the situation, even though scripture clearly says that He will.
Reacting out of bitterness will only serve to harden their hearts. Within their own minds they will reason that now they are a victim and are justified in reacting… and so on the cycle goes.
By your choice you can break this cycle.
By choosing to react with love and grace this leaves the other person’s heart open to the ministering of the Spirit and the person will be more likely to realize the hurt they have done.
“For in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head”
Ok, so how do we prepare ourselves to react this way? Here are two areas to work on for starters.
The first area deals with what you are full of.
When offenses come, just like any other form of stress, it is a kind of pressure or press. Just like a grape (or a bug) when the pressure is on (when it is squished), whatever is inside will come out.
Luk 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
What is inside of you? What have you been spending your time on? What have you been “consuming”? What have you been meditating on?
The second area involves the importance you place on yourself — a topic being treated in a future article.