I heard a statement recently, from someone who has been hurt by someone in the church. When I say "in the church", I mean within the body of believers that makes up the church, not the actual church building. (I realize my picture may have thrown you, but that's just a cute chapel that used to be nearby.) Anyway, that got me to thinking about what we do with the ways that people hurt us.
First, people are people and people are HUMAN. Not one of us is a perfect human being and because of our sin problem, we will always battle our "flesh" or worldly tendencies. We can let our flesh win, or we can operate by the power of the Holy Spirit. It's always a battle between the Spirit and the flesh. Operating by the power of the Holy Spirit requires time spent with Jesus in prayer and in reading His Word.
With sinful people all around, myself included, sometimes we say things we shouldn't or act in a way that is less than nice. We all give in to this from time to time, but when we act out in this way, it's important for us to make amends to anyone we may have hurt. Meaning, if I had a bad day and someone calls me on the phone and I am rude with them, it is my responsibility to own up to what I did and to apologize with heartfelt meaning.
When someone who is a believer hurts us, it's important to remember that they are equally as human as you and I are—and even if they never apologize, it's important to forgive them. I can speak to this, because up until recently, I have held a grudge against a pastor from long ago. I won't go into it, because it's water under the bridge now, but he never apologized and for my own good, I had to finally move on and forgive him even though he was never repentant.
Like I said, he is human and what he said is on him and between him and the Lord. Someday he will answer for what took place and how his harsh words caused both my husband and me to stumble in our walk with God. (We've since gotten over this.)
But see what I mean, when you don't let things go? People are human and though I'm not excusing him, by not forgiving him, it was like something was festering inside of me and it was growing and growing. That is exactly what bitterness and anger will do, if you let them go on unchecked. They eat away at you! There is a verse that talks about this, in Colossians 3:8—
But now, put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth.
In that same chapter, a bit further down, there are instructions on how we are to live, if have been saved from a life apart from Jesus, verses 12-15, and I'll write them out for you.
Therefore, as God's chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.
From these verses, do you see how when we act in those ways and put on those things, that peace rules in our hearts? It's true! The enemy likes to trick us into harboring a grudge and bitterness in our hearts. We have to be careful in NOT living like that, though or our hearts will become bitter and hardened. As believers and followers of Jesus, we should always be asking for a soft and pliable heart. We want the Word of God to change us within our heart, so that bitterness doesn't rot us from the inside out.
What is in our heart always comes out of our mouths.
A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart. An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of his heart. Luke 6:45
Something else I've learned about people who hurt people is that hurt people hurt people. Did you read that right? Read it again. Hurt people hurt people. People don't just do and say things because they're in the mood, they usually act out in a certain way because of the condition of their own heart. That is why I always take it back to everything being a heart issue between them and God. Either you are walking with Jesus or you are NOT. Put one person from both of those categories in a room full of people and you'll be able to tell them apart.
After realizing that people are human and nobody is perfect, it's important to let it go. Elsa had it right, it turns out, when she sang that infamous song. Most likely, they're not sitting around thinking about what they may or may not have done. So, accept their humanness and let it go and move on with your life. We all know people like this, who can't seem to move on and they're miserable people. I feel bad for them.
That is my encouragement for you today. I know I need this reminder every once in a while. Do you need this reminder today? If so, spend some time praying about the situation and release it to Jesus.
Love to all.