I’ve worked with so many people who, having been hurt by another, seem determined to return the hurt, or at the very least, withhold their love from the person who hurt them. The mind set that causes this to happen is one in which the other person is seen as evil, lacking any good characteristics, beyond redemption.
The thing about a relationship with Jesus is that it begins with Him helping us see ourselves as we truly are. We are forced to acknowledge that our good intentions do not always translate into good behaviours. We are forced to admit that our motives are more often than not, corrupt. Jesus brings into clear focus that even our very best and most altruistic behaviours are tainted by a self-serving bias.
When we mature in our relationship with Jesus we cannot help but admit that others, even those who hurt us, are just like us, a mixture of good and bad. They have the same hopes and dreams and longings and desires. Just like us, they screw up from time to time.
Now, it’s true that some people don’t need Jesus to make this type of growth. They are sufficient in themselves. But those aren’t the kind of people that Jesus calls. Jesus seeks out those of us who need salvation. He came to save those of us who recognise that we are corrupt to the core. He works in those of us who are willing to see our need for healing. I digress.
When we see “our enemies” in this light, we are not only able to change our opinion of them from evil to “just like me,” we are able to allow mercy to enter the relationship. Compassion begins to build a bridge to forgiveness. Understanding causes us to release our death grip on the need for revenge.
We may never get to the place where the relationship is restored. In fact, restoration may be the wrong thing to do. As well, the other person may not allow restoration or even want it to happen. However, with understanding and forgiveness on our part, we are freed from bitterness, and obsession. We are able to let go of hate and the desire to destroy.
God is good!