Sep 30, 2011

What to do with people who wound us...

Sometimes in life we face situations when friends wound us, or get offended with us and break off relationship. Maybe you stood up for what was right and someone got mad. Maybe you did something wrong and someone became offended, and refused to forgive when you asked for it. Whatever the situation, it can be difficult to respond with love to someone who is bitter towards us.
What do we do in times like that? How do we respond as a Christian?

Recently I was reading in Psalm 35 and was comforted, first by the fact that I am not the first person that has ever dealt with hard relationships, and second, by the wisdom David gives for how to handle people that hurt us.

First note: That the person is not your enemy.  Remember, "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12) Your enemy is a very real devil who would like nothing better than to cause you to stumble through anger, or hate, or offense of your own. Forgiveness, mercy, and love extended to the relationship is your best defense against him and your only hope for restoration of that relationship.

Plead my cause, O LORD, with those who strive with me;fight against those who fight against me. (verse 1)
Let God be your defense. He stands as our attorney in times when we are wronged. You cannot--must not--attempt to defend yourself.  Do as David did and take your complaint to the Lord only. Do not whine or complain to other people about how bad the person is treating you. Don't try to gather people to your side against that person; that will only serve to damage even more relationships.

...Say to my soul, 'I am your salvation." (verse 3)
Take refuge in God. HE is your Helper, your Comforter (John 17:7). You can hide in Him and find complete safety for bruised emotions and a wounded heart.

And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; I shall rejoice in His salvation. All my bones shall say, "Lord, who is like You, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?" (verse 9-10)
Make your soul take joy in the Lord. The most important key in relationship is not having a victim's attitude. Reject self-pity and anger before it has a chance to take root. Get out of the mulley-grubs. Don't let yourself become depressed by another's view of you. Stop and make a focused effort to fix your focus on God.  Remember, no matter what you face He is worthy of all praise and all thanksgiving. Besides, a joyful heart is "good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones." 

Fierce witnesses rise up; they ask me things that I do not know. they reward me evil for good, to the sorrow of my soul. (verse 11-12)
Recognize that sometimes people will be unfair. Sometimes they will not treat us well. Also remember that God is always, always faithful. ( 2 Timothy 2:13) He does not change based on our response or our worthiness, He is consistent.

But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; and my prayer would return to my own heart. I paced about as though he were my friend or brother; I bowed down heavily, as one who mourns for his mother. (verse 13-14)

Here's the part that makes me stop and ponder. Our attitude must remain one of tenderhearted kindness. In fact, it looks as though David extended even more kindness than normal to this person.
Pray for them when they are sick or hurting. Fast for them. Wow, intense! Deprive yourself of food and pleasure in order to intercede for them. Allow yourself to remain emotionally attached to their well-being as though they were a best friend or brother. That's Christ-like love!

Vindicate me, O LORD my God, according to Your righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me. (verse 24)
Realize that God will vindicate you in time. Everything in life will someday pass before the judgment seat of Christ, and at that time all wrongs will be made right. For now, lay the case to rest within your own heart and be cautious not to exact vengeance for yourself.

Our God is a God of reconciliation and restoration. Those that are His have a ministry of reconciliation. As such we must be watchful that our hearts remain forever soft towards those that have wronged us. Don't burn the bridges of relationship. Pave the way back in to the person's heart. Sure, you can't change them, you can't fix their attitude. Sometimes you just have to stand at a distance and hope they are willing to reconcile with you someday. But if the day comes that they return, receive them with open arms and willing the father did to the Prodigal Son (story here) Christ did with you when you returned after rejecting Him.

We who have been forgiven so much will find we have many opportunities to love much.


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