By Tonya Allen
If I walked up to everyone in the grocery store one by one, and asked each of you to tell me about an incident where someone had hurt you, I would probably never leave the building. No one makes it through life without injury. Someone, somewhere has hurt you. At some point in your life you’ve been a victim. Part of you is dying because someone in your life spoke too much. Part of you is dying because somewhere in your past, someone demanded too much. Part of you is dying because somewhere in your present, someone is neglecting you too much. Everyone gets wounded, and everyone deals with pain differently. As Christians, we must be cautious not to let our hurt turn into hatred.
Ephesians 4:32 reminds us to be kind and loving to each other. We must forgive each other just as God forgave us in Christ. So, if we know this bible verse, than why do we behave the way we do? It is amazing how creative we can be when we seek revenge. I am shocked at how some Christians dedicate so much of their time and efforts into getting even. They are blinded by so much hatred that they can’t make sound decisions. They look in the mirror and smile thinking they have won when in reality the world feels sorry for them because they have lost so much. They believe that justice is served and they feel content until they think of the situation again or see that person again.
When we harbor hatred we are not satisfied until we have settled the score. We use the silent treatment. We will ignore them when they speak or act as if they are not there. Another popular technique is keeping your distance. When you see them approaching you go the other way. People also use nagging as a tool for revenge. They find the meanest things they can say to hurt you, or they comment on every small detail.
When you let hatred seep deep into your inner being you are determined not to let the other person heal before you. As long as I suffer, you must suffer. As long as I hurt, you must hurt. You cut me, and I am going to make you feel bad as long as I bleed, even if I have to reopen the wound myself. Hatred works like a drug, it is easy to become addicted to hate. The habit starts out easy and we swear we have it under control. We indulge our hurt with doses of anger. The rush of anger numbs the hurt, so we come back for more and up the dosage.
Max Lucado’s book, “In the Grip of Grace” summarizes our actions quite nicely. Lucado states we despise what he did and who he is. It doesn’t matter that I told him I forgave him when I really didn’t. So, what do I do? Insult him. Shame him. Ridicule him. The surge energizes. Drugged on malice, the roles are reversed, we aren’t the victim, and we’re the victor. It feels good. Soon we have him and anyone like him. “All men are jerks.” “You can’t trust a woman.” The progression is predictable. Hurt becomes hate, and hate becomes rage as we become junkies unable to make it through the day without bigotry or bitterness.
So, what is the cure for hatred? G-R-A-C-E!!!! Where the grace of God is missed, bitterness is born. But where the grace of God is embraced, forgiveness flourishes. The more we immerse ourselves in grace, the more likely we are to give grace. The key is forgiving others is to quit focusing on what they did to you and start focusing on what God did for you.
I know what you are saying, “But Tonya, that’s not fair! Somebody has to pay for what he did.” Or, “Tonya, you don’t understand, this person doesn’t deserve grace, mercy, or forgiveness.” I’m not saying he does, that is not up to me or you, but do you deserve God’s grace, mercy, or forgiveness? Besides, what other choice do you have? Hatred will sour your outlook and break your back. The load of bitterness is too heavy. You knees will buckle under the strain, and your heart will break beneath the weight. The wisest choice you can make is to drop the anger. You will never be called upon to give anyone more grace that God has already given you.
Tonya can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tonya and her husband Robert were Married Couples Ministry leaders for 16 years at Freewill Missionary Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama.
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