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Being A Good Neighbor 2: Loving People Who Hurt Us

Being A Good Neighbor Day 2 – Loving People Who Hurt Us

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18, ESV)

“Do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the LORD.” (Zechariah 8:17, ESV)

This is a difficult subject, and not one I approach without some experience, although maybe not to the same degree as you. Being hurt hurts! And before I go any further in today’s devotional topic, I want us to spend a few moments considering the thoughts and feelings of Jesus on the cross. 

Beaten, shamed, spit on, blasphemed, stripped, betrayed—while suffering immensely as He hung there to pay the price for our sins, He said these astounding words: “Father, forgive them . . .” If this doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, I don’t know what else could. 

When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, He does so from a place of experience and authority because He perfectly demonstrated it on the cross. And so we must ask ourselves: Do I love my enemies, or do I speak out against them and criticize them before other people? When my own heart was shattered, this was something that became highly personal to me. How would I speak to others about the one who had broken my heart, and if I spoke poorly, how would that reflect on the Christ I claimed to serve? Would spreading negativity about this person be in any way profitable, or would it grieve the Spirit within me? I think we know the answer to this searching question. 

Sometimes people try to show their loyalty to us by speaking out against those who hurt us, but, as believers, this is not what we are called to do. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of gossiping about people who’ve messed up, who’ve hurt someone we care about, or have fallen into sin. We are tempted to jump on the bandwagon and join in with our own two cents. Sadly, I’ve fallen into that circle far too many times—as much as I hate to admit it—but it was always the wrong choice.

One of the most profound ways we can love our neighbors as ourselves is to choose to love the people who hurt us most. This doesn’t mean we have to agree with their behavior or submit ourselves to being hurt over and over again by the same person, but it does mean that we speak the truth in love and willingly forgive, even when we don’t receive an apology. It also means that we refuse to gossip about the person or slander them in any way. These loving actions are contrary to our flesh and will require the help of the Holy Spirit to carry them out.

Who has hurt or betrayed you? Who has let you down and consistently disregarded your feelings? How do you speak about this person to others? Do you feel justified in speaking poorly about them just because of your hurt? Jesus doesn’t give us a pass—He asks us to forgive, just as He did on the cross: “Father, forgive them…”

Forgive them for hurting me. Forgive them for walking away when I was counting on them. Forgive them for what they said about me. Forgive them for hurting my child. Forgive them for lying to me. These are all difficult things to experience from others, and yet we have the example of Jesus to follow, beckoning us to forgive no matter the offense. 

“Father, it’s so hard when I’m hurt. Grant me the grace to forgive those who have hurt and betrayed me. Help me display love to my neighbors when it’s difficult. Enable me to stand strong when I’m tempted to lash out and gossip about the people who have hurt me most. Help me to walk away from conversations that center around putting others down; it’s so hard to stand tall in those situations, and I ask for Your help, Father. It’s in Jesus’ name that we pray with boldness and confidence. Amen.”

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