It is human to want to retaliate when we are hurt. For some of us who do not wish to avenge ourselves, we deal with an emotional tug-of-war where we silently (or not so silently) wish for God to discipline our enemies with His judgment on their lives. We think to ourselves: Isn’t God a God of justice? Won’t He do good on my behalf?
In Luke 9:51-58, we read of a time when Jesus and His disciples entered a Samaritan village. He was not received well, so James and John asked Him: “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” The way Jesus responds is beautiful. He rebukes them and says, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”
Many times, we are like James and John. Something bad happens to us and quickly, we declare the Lord’s judgment on those who hurt us, or we implore God to make things right in the way that seems best for us. We want wrath. We want fire. We want vengeance. We fail to see God’s heart of life and love and reconciliation wanting to operate in people’s lives.
The Lord is not blind. He knows every bit of injustice and evil happening to us. However, with every wrong done, He invites us to a higher degree of perception—His perception. Mercy will always triumph over judgment (James 2:13b), and it is His kindness that brings people to repentance (Romans 2:4). If we say that we love God and want people to know Him, then we must have His heart to do good to those who hurt us; to choose life over death; to transform what was meant for evil into something good.
The Bible is clear:
Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9
It also says:
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.” Luke 6:27-29
Jesus wants us to love people who hate us; to bless those who curse us; to pray for those who abuse us. He wants us to be a people of a Kingdom where LOVE is the highest order of thought and behavior.
It is a big challenge, but can we show love, forgiveness, and kindness to people who have hurt us? Our wounds should be an arena where love grows strongest and where Christ is most visible in our lives.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.