The thought of spending an evening exchanging pleasantries with the one who stabbed you in the back can tie your stomach in knots. After you forgive, how do treat someone who hasn’t changed? Here are two guiding principles.
Don’t face this alone
Remember Jesus’ words: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” (Matt. 11:28-30, NASB)
A yoke “is a wooden beam, normally used between a pair of animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs.” When you are yoked to Jesus, He shares your burden. He shows you how to handle the situation as it unfolds
Claim His promises from Psalm 23.
- I believe my Shepherd provides everything I need, when I need it.
- I believe He is guiding my every step in the right way.
James 1:5-8 promises that God pours out wisdom on those who ask in faith. Instead of worrying about how to act, trust God to answer your prayer and lead you as you go.
Do the right thing
“ But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect,” (Matt. 5:34-38, NLT)
When Jesus taught us to love everyone, He wasn’t telling us to snuggle up and pretend to feel something we don’t. He’s saying, seek their highest good. A loving prayer for a destructive person is for them to come to their senses, come to Christ, and be set free from their selfishness.
Notice, God provides what the wicked need for life and a chance to know Him. But He still calls them wicked and doesn’t fellowship with them while they are wicked (1 Jn. 1:6).
God told the Israelites to rescue their brother’s ox if they found it (Deut. 22:1-4). He also said to rescue their enemy’s animal if they found it (Ex. 23:4-5). In other words, do the right thing.
God wants to protect your heart. He cares about who you’re becoming. When we are kind we strengthen our own souls. Icky feelings lose their power. We’re free!
You can’t give a wrong-doer a new heart, but you can protect your heart by following Jesus’ teaching. Seek their eternal good.
What do you think Jesus meant when He said, “love your enemies?” You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Deborah W. Wilson