Think of an individual, family member, colleague at work, neighbour or group of people that really get under your skin or rubs you the wrong way. You just cannot stand them or they cannot stand you and they criticize you, talk behind your back or put you down.
Take it a notch further, not only do you dislike that person, but you detest him / her / “those people” – you just “hate their guts” or they hate yours.
Maybe your case is not that extreme. Maybe you are not that kind of person. You just love everyone and everyone loves you. But, let’s be honest. While we may claim to love everyone, not everyone may like us. And we may not like what they are, how they behave, do or what they stand for. It works both ways. There is a great difference between loving and liking, especially from the biblical definition of the word love.
God is love, the Bible says (1 John 4:8). He loves everyone in the world (John 3:16), but surely God doesn’t like, let alone love what we down here are, do and how we treat each other. In His first public “sermon on the Mount”, Jesus commanded His followers to love our enemies, treat them kindly, do them good, not retaliate and fight them, but wish them the best and pray for them. Jesus said this is what God is like, as He is kind and merciful to the most undeserving.
This picture of our Heavenly Father is much different from the picture well-meaning Christians over the millennia made of Him: “Do good and God will reward you, do wrong and He will zap you!” There is some truth that doing good carries some benefits and doing bad in time brings its reward. However God has much bigger picture in mind and so should we. God is in the business of changing human hearts. According to apostle Paul, it is “the goodness (mercy, kindness, compassion, pity) of God that leads to our repentance.” Romans 2:4.
There is one effective way how to get even with our enemies, though. Apostle Paul wrote about this in Romans 12:17-22: “If someone has done you wrong, do not repay him with a wrong… Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. Never take revenge, my friends, but instead let God’s (righteous) indignation do it. For the scripture says, “I will take revenge (administer justice at right time in right way), I will pay back, says the Lord.” Instead, as the scripture says: “If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them a drink; for by doing this you will make them burn with shame.” Do not let evil defeat you; instead, conquer evil with good.”
Next time someone offends you, take God’s kind of “revenge”. By being kind, praying for, when appropriate doing the offenders good in their crisis you may make some people think, feel ashamed, change their thinking and become people who will show respect and friendship.
For more information, see www. ashcroft22.adventistchurchconnect.org/