Steve’s sermon Sunday was “Relationships with Those Who Hurt You”—a tough topic on any level. That topic was a request or he might not have had the courage to tackle it. But, as it turns out, a basic Bible principle pretty much covers it: “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19, NIV). (Of course, as Steve said, you can pretty much get your guidelines for interpersonal interaction from Romans 12.)
The hurts he discussed were both physical and emotional, but most of us have more emotional hurts than physical ones.
One of his points, suggested by another member at Central, was that we must leave vengeance to God because only God knows the heart. I remember times that, as a teacher, I was quick to punish a child for hitting someone else, only to discover that it was in defense of an underdog. Of course that didn’t make it right, but it reminds me that I didn’t know that child’s heart as God did.
In our Life Group following lunch, we shared stories of times we were hurt and how we handled it—both well and poorly. For me, discussing the sermon during Life Groups is an incredible opportunity, because often I think of things during the sermon and would like to discuss them with someone. Most sermons trigger some sort of memories!
One story was that our friend’s mother had had a falling out with her own sister and didn’t speak for years. But our friend did not break her relationship with her aunt, in spite of family pressure to do so. She refused to become involved against someone she loved.
Another part of the discussion was on how to handle relatives that you know are going to hurt your feelings. Now that’s cutting to the heart of the matter—that relative that knows you well enough to push your buttons OR the relative that is clueless as to how he or she is continually hurting your feelings. Several of Steve’s summary points addressed that situation:
- Expect to be mistreated. (One member said it helps to know going in that he’s going to hurt your feelings, so you prepare yourself to shrug it off.)
- Talk to the person. (This is not easy but often useful.)
- Develop a tough skin. (And I’d add to that a sense of humor. “Oh, crazy Uncle Fred again!”)
- Forgive and move on. (Hard to do.)
Steve ended with the saying that “forgiving is for the other person; forgetting is for yourself.” I think the forgiving is for yourself as well. When I have truly forgiven someone who wronged me (or mine), I feel as if a literal load has been lifted from my shoulders; it seems that instead Jesus throws his arm around my shoulders and gives me a squeeze as though to say, “Now isn’t that better?”
How have you handled a situation when you have been hurt by someone?