He betrayed your childhood guy friend. She dumped your brother. She backstabbed your best friend. He slandered your sister. If you’re close to a person who was hurt by another, there’s a level of righteous indignation to be expected from your heart. But acting on it—in word or deed—should be approached very carefully if you’re a follower of Christ.
Of all the posts I’ve written for Project Inspired, this is one of the hardest. As I write to you, I’m also writing to myself on a subject I have far from mastered. It’s very difficult for me to love a person who has hurt a friend or family member of mine! I want justice; I want to show the person just how awful they are for hurting someone close to me. I want to defend, correct and set the record straight.
But that’s not my role—and it’s not yours.
Here are three things to remember next time your friend, sister or brother has been hurt by someone.
Vengeance Isn’t Ours
God has said that He—not we—is the One who will repay people according to their deeds. While this might be discouraging at first, when you really think about it, it’s a major positive! When we try to mete out justice according to our own wisdom and time frame, we can’t do it adequately. We could never be as just as God is; we could never judge impartially on such an offense. If vengeance and consequences are due, God will see to it that the person who hurt your friend learns a lesson.
But we shouldn’t spend our time wishing for that kind of vengeance. God’s justice releases us from that burden and responsibility. We don’t need to take back up what He has already carried!
We Love Best by Loving Like Christ
We love our wounded friends best when we love the way Christ did. Christ entrusted justice to His Father God. He knew that the persecution He experienced would also happen to His disciples, and though He could have stopped it, many of them suffered as much as He did—even unto death. Their justice came much later, as God was glorified through their lives and testimonies.
By refraining from retaliation, you can comfort your friend in their need and show them how to trust God for justice. They can use their testimony and future healing to help comfort others who have been wounded.
God’s Justice Is Always Fair
Finally, remember that God’s justice is always fair. It may not make sense, and from the outside it may seem like the person who hurt your friend is getting off without a consequence. But you don’t know everything that’s going on in that person’s life and mind! Many times, when people wound others, they are facing an internal struggle with God. How they treat people is just a symptom of an inner spiritual problem. When we retaliate, we’re missing the point. The action isn’t the real issue; the spiritual root is. And until that person’s heart is changed, the actions will continue to wound.
That’s why God’s justice is the best for these situations. Release both your friend and your perceived Enemy to the Lord. Let Him work healing and conviction in their lives. Be supportive where you can, but refuse to gossip; only discuss the situation if you can bring it back to a biblical conclusion. As you practice prayer and choose love, you will also be free from the burden of offense we so often carry on behalf of our friends.