Get Some Distance

Read

Matthew 5:44-45 (CEB)
44But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you 45so that you will be acting as children of your Father who is in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous.

Reflect

In Jesus’ day, this was groundbreaking stuff. The law was clear: “If someone injures a fellow citizen, they will suffer the same injury they inflicted: broken bone for broken bone, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. The same injury the person inflicted on the other will be inflicted on them.” (Leviticus 24:19-20) But Jesus was saying that we can—and should—do better than that. He asks this question: If you love only the people who love you, does that make you any better than anyone else? After all, even nonbelievers do that. What sets us apart as Christians is that we love all God’s children, even those who would hurt us.

Now, that’s a pretty lofty goal, because as humans, our basic wiring has us wanting vengeance when somebody does us wrong. But do you know the truth about revenge? Somebody else’s suffering doesn’t make us feel any better at all. In fact, ultimately, we’ll feel guilty over the pain we’ve caused another person. Plus, we will have put ourselves contrary to God’s will.

It would be great if there was a big bubble around us to protect us from nasty people trying to hurt us, but unfortunately no such bubble exists. So, we are going get hurt sometimes, and we are going to want to strike back.

Respond

The first thing to do in that kind of a situation is to get some distance. You’re going to be angry—and it’s OK to be angry, but you don’t want your anger to lead you into being a sinner yourself. So take some time, and, as Jesus says, pray for that person. Someone who willingly hurts another person has rejected God and desperately needs our prayers. Pray for your anger to subside and ask for wisdom in how you interact with that person in the future.

Relate

If today’s devotion spoke to you in a particular way and you feel led to share your thoughts with others, please do so.