We have all heard, at one point or another while growing up, the famous saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Let me tell you, I have experienced my fair share of broken bones and though it is a painful experience, the pain only lasts for a specific time frame even when we must rehab those injuries before they can be completely healed. Yet, hurtful words don’t always abide by this rule or the famous children’s saying. Words and actions by others not only can hurt us more than a broken bone can, they tend to last a lot longer than a physical injury.
The reality is we see this almost everywhere we turn. School bullying is a major problem with today’s youth. So much so that there have been a whole slew of laws and movements started to bring awareness to the issue, let alone the newest trend of cyberbullying. Bullying even recently spilled into the professional sports world. We see racial slurs, derogatory words and crude sayings in the media, in entertainment, and in our music.
With so much hurt affecting the world today, it is refreshing to turn to our fellow Christians and ministries for support. Yet, what if a Christian, a Church, or ministry has burned us? How do we act now?
In my life, I experienced this very thing – let me tell you, it hurts more than anything. I have experienced a Pastor leave the Church because he had an affair, I have had believers steal from me, and I have had a Christian ministry lie and leave me abandoned in ways you couldn’t imagine. In all of these cases the hurt was amplified because I wanted to believe that all Christians at least tried their best to treat people right. The fact of the matter is, Christians make the same mistakes everyone else does and leave a path of destruction as a result. The sad truth of the matter is, the destruction is not only within the physical world, but the spiritual one as well. So what do we do when someone treats us wrong? While it is extraordinary tough, Jesus calls us to forgive.
The Bible shows us all kinds of examples of strong believers being tempted and failing, but through forgiveness God gave them a second chance. Examples like King David, who was a man of God yet had an affair with Bathsheba and had her husband killed in the process; or Peter, who got so angry that he used a sword to cut a soldiers ear off; or Saul who both persecuted and hated Christians. If God can forgive those men, and forgave each of us of our many sins, how can we not forgive those who wronged us – even if they are Christians? We need to take a deep look at our heart and no matter how much pain resulted in their actions, and how much pain will result from forgiving the person who wronged us, we must be the Godly example of Christian forgiveness and reconcile with those who have hurt us. We need to remember that we are not perfect and follow Jesus’ example – forgiving all, even our brothers and sisters in Christ.