True Confession: I am not as mature as I think I am or want to be. I know this because of how I experience a flip in my stomach when a “friend” who has hurt me in the past posts something spiritual on social media. They are not writing anything about me, mind you. It is not directed at me at all. Usually the post is some spiritual platitude or Bible verse or how God has been speaking to them or blessed them in some fashion. My default response to such a posting too often is: “Really? God has been speaking to you? I think if God was really speaking to you, the Almighty would have first reminded you how much your actions have hurt good ol’ Rob Prince.”
I don’t like that like that about myself. It is so petty. I have preached on loving our enemies dozens of times, and yet such petty-mindedness still creeps into my heart. Here’s what I have found: I think it’s easier to “love our enemies” if the enemy is a faceless enemy like a terrorist who hasn’t encountered Jesus or an atheistic blowhard that hasn’t met a “true Christian.” When my enemy is a “Facebook friend” that has wronged me or spoken ill of me I want God to right the offender and do something about it. Oh I don’t want the Almighty to send a lightning bolt in their direction (I’m not that extreme), but a wart on the end of their nose or a case of head lice would be nice.
Obviously, I am still working on forgiveness. Forgiveness means forgiving even when the other person doesn’t ask for forgiveness. Sometime forgiveness means forgiving even when the offending person doesn’t realize how deeply they have hurt you.
Here’s what I’ve decided to do (I hope this helps): When I see a social media post from such a “friend” who has hurt me, I’ve determined to pray for him or her. Not pray that God would send the fleas of a thousand camels to infest their armpits, but pray that God would truly bless them. I want to genuinely pray that they would experience the power and majesty of God and know the joy of the Lord. I want to pray this not so that they will have some revelation that they have hurt me. I want to pray with the expectation that they may never know how deeply they have hurt me, but quite frankly (and to be honest somewhat selfishly), I need to see them in another way other than bitterness. Carrying in my mind a list of hurtful people is crippling and not particularly healthy. Resentment is a joy thief.
I’ve been camping out in Ephesians 4:32: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Oh how I want to live out that verse. Bottom line: Bitterness and forgiveness cannot fill the same heart. I want to choose forgiveness.