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Tuesday: Loving Those Who Hurt Us — 17 Comments

  1. Today's topic can be a tough one, particularly for those who have been abused. Part of the issue is that we have been brainwashed into a sanitized view of emotional love rather than a practical working relationship. Sometimes the best way to love a person is to keep out of their way.

    Some friends of ours had a teenage child who had got into the drug scene. The child had become abusive and was stealing things from home. He was no longer living at home because the situation had become so confrontational. He wreaked furniture, punched holes in the walls, and so on. So he was living rough and couch surfing. The parent's made it clear that he was welcome to come home as long as he agreed to go into a drug rehabilitation program. They let him know that he was loved, but they avoided the unproductive confrontations. It was tough but in the end, they were successful.

    I am not saying it is the only way, or that such methods are always successful. But love sometimes has to be very different from the "good feeling" sort of love we have in our minds.

    Meekness does not mean "Put up with it".

  2. Jesus began His Sermon on the Mount thus:

    3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

    5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

    In this sermon, He enunciated the laws/principles of His Kingdom in ascending order. To be part of His Kingdom, we must first be aware of our need - to be "poor in spirit." We can begin to feel our need, our poverty of spirit, when we contemplate the life of Christ.

    When we contemplate the life of Christ - especially the closing moments of His suffering on the cross - we begin to mourn our sins that put Him there.

    This lesson focuses on the third principle - the principle of meekness. It occurred to me to wonder about the difference between meekness and humility. And though Google can find many "answers" to the question, I'm not sure that we can really separate the two. Before Christ, Moses was called the meekest man on this planet. (cf. Numbers 12:3) Most of the "meek" references in the Old Testament are tied to promises similar to Matthew 5:5. I conclude that the earth is promised to the "meek," in stark contrast to those who seek to gain possessions and status for themselves. Jesus was called meek. (Matt. 11:29, Matt. 21:5)

    Jesus was also said to "humble" Himself. (Phil. 2:8) From the biblical usage, according to the KJV, I get the idea that humility means being willing to take a lower place - letting others get the credit and the glory, no matter how "deserving" we might be. (That's what Jesus did when He came to this planet and risked everything to redeem a rebellious race, including you and me.)

    Thus I'm not sure that there is a distinct difference between "meek" and "humble" or that it matters. What does matter is that we keep Christ ever before us, so we might become more and more like Him. As He transforms us, as we yield ourselves to Him, we will become both humble and meek, fit to inherit the earth.

    It seems to me that the first step is to realize that every type of self-justification, self-aggrandizement, every attempt to get credit for something good done, etc. is not generated by the Spirit of Christ. For instance, every time we feel that we have been slighted, we can know that we still need to learn meekness. Every time we judge others as being prejudiced against us in any way, our self-seeking spirit is revealed. It is the spirit of the world and Satan.

    The laws of the Kingdom are totally counter-cultural, and we can't possibly live by them unless we take our focus off the world. And I believe that's where the Christian's struggle truly lies.

    What do you think?

    • “Every time we judge others as being prejudiced against us in any way, our self-seeking spirit is revealed. It is the spirit of the world and Satan.”

      What if there really is prejudice there? Not just by my judgement but by anyone’s standard, is it still my “self-seeking spirit” showing up?
      The way I see it is that there is evil in the world so the world and we who inhabit it are not “good,” intrinsically. To be born again into a life of/with Christ, is to be in opposition to the world. Seeing differences in others brings out the worst in us human beings sometimes. So people are going to hate us and do things to us that are, subtly or openly, prejudicial. They leave nothing to our own judgement at times. It is blatant!
      Our response to their prejudices and mean acts against us is what determines or rather reveals what kind of spirit we possess— of Satan and the world or of meekness, of Jesus and of His love.

      • You make a good point, Sandra. While much of what we judge as prejudice or intentional slight may be simply our over-vigilant protection of self (which is what I had in mind), there is genuine prejudice. So, what is the Christ-like way to deal with it?

        Is it possible that a meek person will not even recognize such intentional slights or acts of prejudice.

        It reminds me of an immigrant family close to us in my childhood. I remember my father speaking of people taking advantage of his friends. But the immigrant friend was perfectly happy, blissfully unaware of how people were taking advantage of him. He just thanked God for all his blessings.

        My question is this: Would the immigrant father have been better off realizing how he was being used?

        I believe that God's directions are intended to make maximize our joy. Is it possible that we lose much joy by looking out for self rather than putting first the Kingdom of God?

  3. Consistent with what today's lesson presents, it is absolutely true that (self-renouncing) love for our enemies is fundamentally not merely a feeling we have for them, but rather our entire 'orientation' to them (of which specific actions toward them that reveal care and consideration are an inherent 'out-flow'). Consequently, as the lesson also notes, having such a commitment and orientation towards those that are non-beneficent (ie, maleficent) towards us is not possible unless we have been 'reborn' with a "new heart and right Spirit (John 3:3-6; Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26).

    To illustrate how deep this concept and reality is, consider whether you would you go so far as to give up your place in eternal life to have your enemy saved and restored (Exodus 32:32)? It's a sobering consideration illustrating the depth of what today's lesson is touching on...

    • Phil van der Klift,
      I read your question "consider whether you would go so far as to give up your place in eternal life to have your enemy saved and restored" and then started to consider it from the perspective of Jesus leaving heaven, impossible for me to even comprehend Jesus' willingness and sacrifice. THEN I read Exodus 32:32. Wait!! it is totally possible for me to reach that point of "self-renouncing" love as Moses did. Moses is human just as I am. Still hard for me to fathom, but shows that it is possible.

      Thanks, Phil for your thought-provoking post.

  4. Meekness is related to submission! When I am really submissive to God I let Him fight for me. Dealing with the pain caused by someone you love, for example, is quite challenging! It truly fells like you are fighting and being hurt by yourself, and you are! "Because my own feelings can betray myself!" I do not know which is worst, to be hurt by someone you love or by a complete stranger. In either case I must learn to forgive! God is perfect and His Grace is for all, besides, forgiveness level us all! We all need Jesus for salvation, there is nothing we can do to deserve it, but accept it (Him)! For inner peace, the focus must not rely on the enemy, but on The Grace!

  5. Thank God for today's lesson which is one of the most difficult practice of christians.
    I come from a polygamous home i.e my Dad of blessed memory had 2 wives. My Mum being the oldest and her co wife who is late too. There are 7 of us siblings, 4 from my Mum and 3 from the other woman. Actually people from polygamous home will understand the kind of relationship that existed an unpleasant one.
    To cut the long story short, my half siblings go round town and say all manner of ill things about my Mum and her children, Yet this same persons benefits from us financially and other wise. My Mum and her 4 children had a family reunion last month and we resolved to restrain from any kind of help to them again since we have done our possible best to bring them closer to us as older siblings not minding the hell we went through their late Mother but all to no avail.
    My Question is was our decision right or wrong? Moreso we don't hate them but have nothing to do with them.

    • It is ok to put distance between those who hurt us. We should ask the Lord to help us to forgive them, since forgiveness comes from the Lord and is not a natural inclination of the human heart; and we must forgive. But, by all means, disconnect yourself totally from them, your mental and emotional health must be protected.

    • Whether your decision is right or wrong we cannot know. It is between you and the Lord. But there are biblical principles to guide you, such as, giving food to your enemy if he is hungry (Prov. 25:21) balanced by 2 Thess. 3:10 (Read the context).

      The question is whether your half siblings are in genuine need (whether their own fault or not). It seems to me that you are not obligated to bring them up to your standard of living, if they essentially reject you. But as Christians, you are obligated to help them if they are in genuine need.

      It sounds like a difficult situation. And I pray that the Lord will give you wisdom.

  6. It really is not easy to love those who hurt us but, we can do ALL things, through Christ. I’ve been through so much growing up as a child and even more so being an adult. If I didn’t have a heart of love and forgiveness, I would have been consumed by bitterness; but God! We have to see others through the lenses of God and treat them accordingly because sometimes it’s not them to be blamed but genetics goes a far way. Let us purpose in our hearts to be like Christ and live in accordance to His will so that His light can be seen in us that will lead even our enemies to Him. 🙏

  7. I found a key to ease suffering from insults and actions that may hurt. It is by depending totally on Jesus for my self-esteem. Then I find it easy to dismiss what people say that can cause pain and suffering since what they say doesn't really matter. If I do suffer from their harmful words, I can tell that it is because I am focused on myself and turned to depend on people for my worth, which I find is the way of the world. If they do something like stealing from me or physically harm me, I find myself fearing what God might due in judgement of them and pray that He would forgive them. I probably wouldn't do this if God hadn't changed my heart during my walk with Him. May God bless others to enjoy God's changes that bring His grace into their hearts so that they can share it with others as well.

    • I was also thinking this, Celeste. When we know we are God's precious and dearly beloved children and we understand our own value, we can accept ill treatment because we know that it doesn't change who we are. In fact, I believe it reflects on the person who is causing harm, that they may well have a poor understanding of their own value, therefore they feel a need for outward displays of power and strength to make others believe they are strong when actually they are weak. Meekness and humility require inner strength.


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