“Everything would be easy if I didn’t have to deal with people.”
We chuckle over that comment in workplaces across the world. Our jobs and lives WOULD be easier without the human variable! But they would also be extremely boring. The love, joy and fulfillment we get out of life is largely fueled by our relationships. We are relational creatures, designed by God to enjoy the fellowship of other humans.
But those same humans hurt us, betray us and let us down at times. The longer we walk with our friends and family, the more their flaws show through. Even our spouses let us down in the gravest of ways. How do we keep loving people who hurt us?
We Let God Down Every Day
The most important thing to remember is the easiest to forget: We let God down every single day. As humans in a fallen world, we’re most concerned with how WE are treated. When people hurt us, we naturally want to defend ourselves. We want justice.
But God, the Creator of the universe, the Author of Life, is wounded by humanity every moment of every day. His heart was grieved by us from the day Adam and Eve first sinned. Even so, God has striven with man for thousands of years. He has shown mercy, kindness and sacrifice in order to stay in relationship with us. He died to make a way for our failures to be accounted for. That puts the sins committed against us in a different perspective.
Grace Is a Choice
This grace God shows us is a conscious choice. God is both justice and love, but to show us love, He had to suspend His justice—and then pour it out on Jesus. He CHOSE to show grace through this ultimate sacrifice.
We shouldn’t be surprised that grace is a choice for us, too. We have to decide to show mercy to those who offend us. It’s not easy, but it wasn’t easy for God, either! He can sympathize with the difficulty of forgiveness, and He will enable you to live it out.
God Is Our Justifier
Forgiveness isn’t letting someone off without consequences. It’s committing their case to the only Justifier who judges correctly: God Himself. When you forgive someone, you’re saying, “I will not hold you accountable for this. I am not the one who judges your life actions. I release myself from that responsibility.” In so doing, you allow God to work His own conviction and justice in that person’s life.
Does this mean they will change? Unfortunately, no. But the incredible thing about grace is that it’s quite motivating. Many people exposed to grace never forget what it felt like. There is a good chance your forgiveness and love will make an impact on that person’s life. Though they might not change immediately, it could be the first experience that leads them to do so.
Loving those who let us down is difficult and countercultural. But as people of faith, we’re equipped with what we need to show mercy.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36)