Have you ever felt wronged, slandered, or humiliated? Chances are, you have. And it probably didn’t feel too good.
How did you react? As humans, our knee-jerk reaction is to come to our own defense (or the defense of our family, our faith…the list goes on). But have you ever come to regret your actions and pondered how, as Christians, we should react?
A choice stands before us at that crucial moment of stinging pain: to recognize that this other being who has offended you is also someone that God created, loves, and is longing to bring into communion with Himself. Or, we can choose to ignore the command of the Lord to love our enemies and those who persecute us, and let resentment grow as an ugly barrier between us and our brother or sister.
I once asked my dad what (I thought) was a difficult question. It was something I had been struggling with for so long! “How do you love someone, especially if they act wrongly towards you?”
He looked at me, and almost immediately answered, “Why, if you want to love someone, you do good to them, of course.”
His answer struck me like lightning in its simplicity. All this time, I had been missing what was so true, so clear, and so simple. Truth be told, Christ’s teaching is simple. It’s not complicated. It doesn’t require hours of studying, it doesn’t require a degree in theology. You don’t have to be a clever apologist. ‘Love your neighbors’, Jesus says, ‘Do good to those who don’t do good to you’…and yet, it’s the most simple things that come hardest, sometimes. But it is a command to all of us, from the greatest, to the least.
St. Francis of Assisi is credited with saying, “Preach the Gospel, if necessary, use words.” So even if you’re in the right, say nothing bad about the person that has wronged you. Take an extra step, and pray for them. With time, you’ll find that nothing they do bothers you anymore, because you’ll be too busy loving them. And who knows, maybe God will grant your light to shine in such a way that this person will see and ‘glorify God in the day of visitation.’
“For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” 1 Peter 2:15