27"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Loving the unloveable is a tough job! It is easy to love those that are kind, generous, humble, gentle in spirit but what about those that are mean, nasty, unfair, unkind and down right rude? I learned that hurting people hurt others. It doesn’t make the hurt go away, but it helps to try to understand their motives. Many times when we have done individual prayer sessions and we go back to traumatic events and hurts of the past we begin to look at the circumstances that surround the person but also to look at the key players in the event. When we look at the persons that were the perpetrators, they are often ones that were hurt themselves and really didn’t know any better. It is helpful to have the victim understand that, for it is easier to forgive the person if you know that they were hurt and in such pain that was why they had to act out those aggressive acts. It was not about the victim but it was about the person acting out their own hurts. It does not excuse the act itself, but it helps in the healing process and in forgiving the person. Jesus forgave those that condemned him, beat him, mocked him, nailed him to the cross and put him to death. And STILL, as he hung on the cross, he said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. How much more can we forgive our enemies and those that have hurt us? Jesus is our model to true forgiveness of others. Every time I hold onto feelings of bitterness or resentment and I feel justified that I was right, then I hold bitterness in my heart and it gives the enemy a foothold. If I release it all then I am not allowing the enemy in. May I always remember how Jesus handled persecution and to not hold onto anything.
Question: Are you holding onto any bitterness or resentment? Is there anyone you need to forgive?