I get angry when I feel that I’m being treated unjust and have been wronged. I don’t always handle it in the best way. Very quickly I react with frustration, outrage and sometimes hot tears.
While anger is a very natural reaction, it is how we deal with our anger than can lead to sin and misery. It can lead to bitterness, a grudge, constant brooding and poor judgement. Of course, this is not how we are called to live as Christians. So we must follow Christ’s example and word.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Ephesians 4:31
How does Jesus tell us to deal with people who hurt us? Well, he wants us to:
- Turn the Other Cheek
- Forgive Them
TURN THE OTHER CHEEK
Quite simply, this means to not adopt an “eye for an eye” attitude. So don’t conspire to get back at that person; it’s not Christ-like at all. And we should always remember that “God will use the anger and jealousy of your enemies to bring about their own end” (Dr. Tony Evans). It’s not up to you to dish out your own brand of justice. Basically, don’t be Batman.
“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9
The hardest part is usually the forgiveness part. When someone who has hurt you does not take responsibility for their actions and apologize, it can make the pain even worse. It can make you remorseful, and your anger can easily turn into hatred. This is where anger becomes dangerous.
But how can I forgive someone who cannot even admit or see how they have done me wrong? How can I forgive a liar, a con man, a criticizer, a cheater, an unjust accusation?
By the grace of God.
“And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.” Luke 23:24
In my human-ness, I cannot and will never be able to forgive those who don’t deserve it. By human logic, why should I forgive someone who has done great wrong and hurt me? Especially if they don’t even apologize? My anger and hatred towards them is doomed to consume me, like a festering sore, so long as I have memory of the offense and hold on to unforgiveness.
We want to forgive, not just because Jesus commands us to but because it weighs down on our hearts and can cause bitterness and a grudge to grow out of control. We are essentially poisoning ourselves. But if we turn away from anger, turn away from the offense, and turn to God and his Word, which brings peace beyond understanding, then we can learn to forgive and heal, regardless of what the other person does to reconcile or not.
How does this happen? It’s a bit of a process.
4 Steps to Forgive Others:
- Humble yourself
- Thank God
HUMBLE YOURSELF – By Remembering Your Condition
One main trigger to feeling great hurt and anger when we are wronged is our sense of justice and pride. “How dare they do this to me! Who do they think they are? How could they lie to ME? Betray ME?” Etc. Yet, if we take a moment to look inside and recall our human condition, we can honestly say that we, too, are liars, cheaters, and criticizers. We, too, have hurt people. Does that not make us just as guilty as the person who has now wronged us? It can be easy to compare ourselves and think we are the better person, but that’s why it’s important to see things from God’s perspective.
We have done much to anger and offend God, yet he forgives US! When we humble ourselves, suddenly we realize that the offense of another human being doesn’t seem so large compared to how we have disappointed God.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
THANK GOD – For His Forgiving Nature
When you recognize that you are no better than the person who offended you, and that you have done the same and worse to God, it moves us to have a heart of thanksgiving. How can you not feel a sense of joy and thankfulness that God is merciful, patient and kind enough to forgive us lowly people? His greatest act of Love was that we wouldn’t have to get what we ultimately deserve. Instead, we receive grace and mercy. This should either make us weep or dance with joy or both!
PRAY – for Those that Hurt You
What? I have to pray for someone who probably doesn’t even know what is right or wrong? Yes, even more so for that reason. We should pray for those who hurt us since they do not have God speaking to them as He speaks to us. We are blessed to be in communion with God. It isn’t something we earned, “for it is by faith” that we have come into this beautiful relationship with the Creator. Those who are not in this relationship could have a completely upside down view of the world. They could be filled with their own pains, insecurities, confusion and a whole other slew of issues that we are ignorant of. Who will pray for them, if not you?
And if all of that is not a good enough reason, then you should also do it because Jesus commands us. You may be one of the few Christian people that person knows. What if your act of forgiveness softens their heart to the cause of Christ?
“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18: 21-22
REPEAT- Until you feel Peace
Emotions are hard to conquer. So it is likely that you will need to repeat some or all of these steps until you feel the peace of God subdue and replace your anger with understanding and joy. But that’s ok. There’s a reason it doesn’t feel easy to forgive others. It is difficult, but all the more rewarding. Not only do you let go of the hurt and bitterness that weighs you down, but you grow and mature spiritually, making yourself a greater tool for the Kingdom of God.
Do you find forgiving others difficult? For some, it is easier to forgive strangers than people we are closest to. This is an issue that I felt compelled to write about. This is my first (of hopefully many) faith-related post. Please feel free to ask a question, start a discussion, share a story or some insight in the comments below!