There are so many of us dealing with unresolved anger, disappointment, and hurt from the actions (or lack there of) of people in our lives. As a result it seems as if many of us have adopted a new mentality, 'Treat Others Exactly How They Treat You'. Which pretty much means if someone does you wrong, then you should pay them back, maybe even 10 times over. Or completely remove them from your life because if someone hurts you, they don't deserve another chance or forgiveness, right? Well if you are looking for a worldly perspective based on human logic than maybe this is what you want to hear. But this is not what the bible teaches us. This is not even what our elders instilled in us years ago. Growing up I was told over and over again to 'Treat others the way you want to be treated.' Any time I did or said something my parents (or any elder) did not like, regardless of what was done to me, they would quickly correct me with these very wise words.
But as a society we have grown tired of trying to do the right thing, when others treat us badly with no consequences. Sometimes is seems like doing 'the right thing' is getting us no where. So many of us take matters into our own hands. We get tired of waiting on God. We are expecting God to either change that persons heart or to give them some consequences, but he does not seem to be working fast enough or at all. But could it be that while we are 'waiting' on God, God is actually waiting on us. Waiting on us to take our attention off of our hurt, and focus on him. Maybe before he can change them, he has to change us. He needs us to understand that in the midst of your pain, he needs us to trust him and be obedient. But in order to be obedient we have to know what God is asking us to do.
'Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse.' Romans 12:14 NIV
Being a Christian is about living life that is like Christ. This does not mean perfection. But it does mean giving an honest effort to be as much like Christ as you can possibly be. The bible teaches us that no matter how someone treats us it is our job, as Christians, to forgive them and treat them with the love of Christ. Ok, I know what you are thinking. I don't understand how badly people have mistreated, hurt, and abused you. If I did understand then I wouldn't be talking about forgiveness and treating them with love. You are right I do not know what you have been through, but I have been through some hurt, heartache and disappointment caused by people I love and trusted. So I get it, believe me. But lets get a little perspective here. Jesus was betrayed by his own disciples. But when he was dying on the cross, he did not curse the names of those who put him there. He did not tell God to punish them. He also did not get down off the cross and try and punish them himself. Jesus asked God to forgive them, because they know not what they do. If thats not love I do not know what is.
Jesus's died for us so that our sins would be forgiven. It didn't take him decades and years to forgive like most of us. While he was literally hanging on the cross, dying and his response was to forgive us and love us anyway. Think about that for a second. We are so imperfect. We dishonor God. We are disobedient to God. We ignore God. We think we know better than God. Some of us completely disregard God all together. But he still sent his son to die so that our sins are forgiven. God treats us way better than we treat him. And using his example he expects us to do the same for other people. Treat other people BETTER than they treat you. There are so many bible verses to back this up I don't even have time to list them all, but here is a few: Romans 12:17, 2 Corinthians 2:10, Colossians 3:13, Mathew 6:14.
Ultimately when we forgive someone, we are letting go of anger and hurt that is in our hearts and making more room for God to reside there. And when we respond to that person the way God responds to us, with grace, mercy and love, we are showing them a glimpse of God through our actions. That glimpse could spark a change in their heart. Our love and forgiveness may bring them to God. Never pass up an opportunity to show other people the God in you.