Grace. I want to receive it when I’ve offended someone. I want to receive it from God, too. But oh, me! To offer it to someone who has offended me? Oh, it’s so hard! You too?
Like today. I had an encounter with someone I only see once or twice a year. She has spoken to me with a judgmental tone any number of times since we became acquainted, but I never see it coming. Today, she actually apologized for being out of line the last time, and for just a second I felt joy. Until she followed it with the words, “but you were, too.” But I think she would probably think I was out of line if I responded to that, so I kept my mouth shut.
I had already forgiven her for the last time, but now I had to forgive her for this time, too, without letting her know that she was offending me again. I know God says I should forgive, so I did. But it wasn’t easy.
It’s really hard to get my brain wrapped around what Jesus would do in situations like this, because my feelings are so involved. I walked away from there feeling kind of depressed instead of joyful even though we had otherwise enjoyed a perfectly good meal and a good time of seeing the other people present, and I had actually had a good conversation with this offensive person earlier in the meal before she dropped the bomb.
What would Jesus do?
He who was led “as a lamb to the slaughter,” yet He opened not His mouth. Isaiah 53:7
He who went to the cross to die for all my offenses toward Him. And yes, every sin is an offense toward Him, even the ones society considers normal reactions and the church often calls “little” sins.
So is belittling someone a “little” sin? It sure doesn’t feel like it when you’re on the receiving end!
Jesus gave us His teaching on this in Matthew 5:39,44-46a:
“whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?”
So, yeah. Grace.
God shows it to the evil and the good by causing the sun to rise on both and by sending rain to both.
He loves me and that offensive person equally.
And He actually offers us some kind of reward for loving those who don’t love us, (translation: who treat us unlovingly). I don’t know what the reward is, nor when I will receive it, but God gives some pretty amazing awards! They are worth waiting for.
“Be…humble in spirit…not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9 NASB
So, no matter how hard it is, I plan on loving this person anyway. Like God does. Only I definitely will need His help, because the only way I have it in me is by the Holy Spirit that God gave me when I accepted His offer of grace through Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross. (It would also help if you would pray for me. Thanks!)
“His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3 NASB