“It is far easier to forgive an enemy after you’ve got even with him,” wrote Olin Miller.
Of Eleanor Roosevelt, Ralph McGill wrote: “She got even in a way that was almost cruel. She forgave them.”
Thousands of years ago, a man named Solomon expressed similar sentiments. He said that if you want to heap hot coals on the heads of your enemies, be kind to them. He also said, “And the Lord will reward you” (Proverbs 25:21-22).
How would our personal worlds change if we heaped hot coals on our enemies’ heads by being kind to them? Jolt your enemy’s conscience into gear by returning kindness for cruelty.
Now, let’s hear from the experts. “For one thing, he might keep you from getting hurt anymore,” says Mikelle, 11. “He will punish the person himself. You don’t need to take it into your own hands.”
When we take vengeance on our enemies, we open ourselves to further retaliation. Please understand that this doesn’t mean we have to be naive about the intentions of our enemies. Rather, it means we can trust God to correct whatever wrongs we have suffered.
“When someone hurts you, this doesn’t mean you come out swinging. You should pray for them,” says Kirby, 11.
Yes, Jesus said we should pray for our enemies. It’s much easier to talk about praying for our enemies than to actually do it.
Although some people prefer to settle disputes with fists, most resort to words. This is where it gets difficult. “Once you talk back, you lose,” says John, 8.
The Bible compares the tongue to a spark that burns down an entire forest. One spark of revengeful talk or gossip can wreak havoc. If we wouldn’t say something about a person when he or she is present, we should keep our mouths shut when he or she is absent.
Do we really believe God is everywhere present? Imagine Jesus listening in this week as you talk with friends on the phone.
“God wants us, His people, to forgive those who hurt us. So many people ridiculed and hurt Jesus, but He forgave them,” says Kaci, 11.
If anyone deserved vindication, it was Jesus on the cross. Yet, as he hung between two criminals with his arms stretched out on a cross, he said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).
People who intentionally hurt others are walking or living in darkness. Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you can’t resort to the same vengeful tactics that characterize those who live in darkness apart from God. The difference is that Christians have a reason to forgive and access to the restraining power of the Holy Spirit.
Showing kindness to those who mistreat us is an effective way to let the Light of Christ shine through us. Jesus promised that we would have trouble in this world. Why are we surprised when we’re treated unjustly?
Think about this: Peace of mind is an immediate reward for turning revenge over to God. Planning and executing revenge will drain your mental and spiritual batteries. Instead, get out your shovel, and start heaping those coals of kindness on your enemies.
Memorize this truth: “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25).
Ask this question: Have you forgiven those who have sinned against you?
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Bible quotations are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
COPYRIGHT 2006 CAREY KINSOLVING