Jesus taught us to “bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:28). If this is true with regard to our relationship to our enemies, how much more of our relationship to an offending brother or sister? When someone does something to hurt us, we should pray that God would grant him repentance, give him the same grace we need, and make him fruitful. It is a mark of humility when we do so.
As the culture war rages on, there is another battle raging to which we must turn our attention. When I was a boy, my dad would sometimes tell me, “No one will hurt you so much as others in the church.” In my lifetime, this has generally proven to be true. Believers sometimes experience the greatest hurt in their relationships with other professing believers in the church at large.
When a professing believer hurts our feelings or reputation, how should we respond? Should we, in turn, demean that individual by telling others (whether privately or publicly), “I can’t stand him,” or “she’s such a mess” or “I’m not even sure that he or she is a Christian.” To our shame, most of us are guilty of having responded in such sinful ways. When someone hurts us, the instinct of our flesh is to hurt them back.
Thankfully, God does not leave us to our fleshly instincts to learn how to respond. Instead, He instructs us in very specific ways about how we should respond when someone does us harm. By virtue of our union with Christ—in His death and resurrection—we can learn to put the following into practice:
1. Remember the spiritual identity of the offending brother or sister.
The Scriptures differentiate between the children of God and unbelievers. Everyone who is united to Christ by faith has been adopted into God’s family. None of us deserves to be adopted into God’s family.