I don’t care how far along you are in your walk with God, none of us are immune. This is a point I was reminded of through an experience this past week. In ministry, I’ve always been told you have to develop a tough skin. But, still it must be balanced with a tender heart. Do you know how difficult that is? I thought I had come a long way in developing a tough skin and a tender heart—until it happened last week—my feelings were hurt.
Have you ever received an invitation to an event, party, or activity only to arrive and feel as if your name was accidentally included on the guest list? I’m not saying this is what happened, but when we get our feelings hurt we often feel just that way. We can feel insignificant and small, like we are at fault for showing up even though we were invited. People can often say hurtful things to us, or about us. Sometimes they ignore us or reject us. At other times the actions of another person whether intentional, or only perceived can slash us right across the heart.
Last week I realized just how much more sensitive women are to these feelings, and how great we are at hurting one another. Men don’t see things the way we women do most of the time. I’m thankful for my husband Bryan. Other than the Holy Spirit, Bryan is very often the voice of reason in my emotional out of sorts world. Even though I would often like to strangle him when he uses this voice of reason, I have to admit many times he is right. (And Babe, if you are reading this, I do take payment in the form of diamonds…just saying)!
But there is another voice that also vies for our attention, and that is Satan—the enemy of our souls. He uses his influences to cause us to dwell on the things that hurt us. Our feelings are very real to us, and we often feel justified in having bad feelings toward those who hurt us. But are we?
Jesus knew rejection to a degree that most of us will never face. Being rejected by His own, (John 1:11) He willingly went to the cross and laid down His life. As He hung there dying, He exclaimed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Jesus demonstrated perfect love and forgiveness through the ultimate sacrifice—giving His own life to pay for our sins, and giving the opportunity to experience eternal life to those who believe and accept His forgiveness.
But before Jesus went to the cross, He taught exactly how we should respond to those who hurt, or mistreat us.
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
We forgive because Jesus forgives, and He requires us to forgive if we are to be forgiven of our sins.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
We forgive so that God will not withhold His blessings from us.
1 Peter 3:9
“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.”
We forgive because we love one another. Real love forgives others of wrongdoing. And God commands us to love others even as we love ourselves. If we cannot forgive others, we do not love.
1 John 4:7-8
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
And 1 Corinthians chapter 13 tells us what love is, and what it looks like.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
So, while we are all susceptible to having our feelings hurt, and though we are all tempted to hold grudges, we can see it is Biblical to love and forgive. The flesh would have us to give in to the temptation to get mad, and pout about how mistreated we are, but the Spirit encourages us to let it go, and be free.
That being said, we don’t have to accept the invitation to put ourselves in situations where we know we will feel “uninvited” or left out. Sometimes resisting temptation requires us to protect ourselves (and our hearts) from situations where we know we will be hurt. So just remember, we must love and forgive, but sometimes we can do that from a distance. We don’t have to accept every invitation!