“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
~Matthew 25:40, NLT
How we treat those who mistreat us is the real test of character.
According to Jesus and Matthew 25, we will be judged by how we relate to others. Jesus reminded the Pharisees in Matthew 22 that the two great commandments are:  Love God with all your heart, mind and soul and  Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. What if our neighbor hurts us? What if others are unkind toward us; does this mean we are off the hook? The answer is no! If we are going to love those who are unkind to us, those who betray us and those who deeply disappoint us by acting in such a way that it is evident they are not giving any preference to us, how are we going to do it? I can answer this question also, we do it by grace. As the writer of Hebrews reminds us, none of us have ever been treated as badly as Jesus was treated when He was on the cross and yet He prayed, “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.” It is a good prayer but how could Jesus mean it? In one sense of the word, they knew exactly what they were doing. They were crucifying Jesus, inflicting as much hurt as possible and they knew He was a better man than themselves.
There is an unwritten rule in counseling: “Hurting people hurt others.” It is the same principle as a wounded animal on the highway. You don’t try to move a wounded dog; if it is hurting on the inside, it will bit. This is the animal’s way of protecting itself from what it perceives as more hurt. You may have the best of intentions but the animal doesn’t know your intentions. As I said a few days ago, insecurity will cause us to be defensive. It also increases our resistance to change and makes us more aggressive about control. The person who lashes out and says hurtful things is a person who has unresolved emotional issues and he or she is hurting on the inside. We would have less of a problem loving others if we knew what was going on inside them. A big bully on the outside is a little baby on the inside. Control freaks and bullies are not all bad, they have some redeeming qualities if we are willing to look for them. By the way, Jesus was right, “They don’t know what they are doing.” God knows and even I have figured it out but they don’t know. Once you understand this, it will be much easier to pray for them. Once you began praying for them, God will give you the grace to love them.
Will our understanding of the problem and the person change them? Unfortunately the answer to this question is a probable ‘no’ but understanding them will help you love them. There is a sweet little lady in our church who told me a couple of years ago, “I reckon I am attracted to A-holes. I married one and all his friends are A-holes.” Yet she loved her husband with all her heart. Understanding what he is doesn’t distract from her love. We have to reach this level of love. We must learn to love people warts and all. By the way, I am one of her husband’s friends.
- A fun day for me yesterday: I got to preach twice and enjoyed both opts. Another great crowd at DBC last night. Noah having the Guatemala meeting after the service didn’t hurt. It was good to see those young people.
- Praise the LORD, we finally got a good rain Saturday night. It will make our second corn crop. I found one dead coon caught in a foot trap last night. I set three more so I hope to find more dead coons today. The little thieves are destroying our corn patch.
- Kay found me a coon dog. He is laying our our steps in the garage as I type. June carried him so water just a minute ago. I hope in doesn’t stay in the garage all night. I have walked him to the garden at least two times. If the coons see him, they will stay away. He is an Austrian Brown Healer. If Buddy don’t get the job done, I may have to borrow Woody. I bet Woody would tear a coon into pieces.