Summary: When a person mistreats you or performs evil against you, what is a positive way to respond? Why is it important that we respond this way?
Let’s go a little further in Jesus words in Matthew 5…
Matthew 5:43-48 (NLT)
“You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Love your neighbour’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
If your relationship with God really makes a difference in your life, it’s going to be evident in the way you treat the people who treat you poorly. It’s easy to be nice to the people who treat you well. And it’s easy to brag up your friends. But if you’re able to show love and compassion and forgiveness and generosity for the person you may even consider an enemy, and you can honestly and truly wish them well, it’s a pretty God sign that God’s been working in your life.
How you respond speaks to your character, not theirs.
Just quickly as we finish up, let me outline for you four benefits of a positive response to the people who mistreat you:
Four Benefits of a Positive Response:
A. It’s good for your physical and spiritual health
We read earlier that God’s forgiveness for you is dependent on your willingness to forgive others. An unforgiving spirit is going to hold His forgiveness back, it’s going to limit your own spiritual growth, and it will hold you in bondage. On the other hand, if you forgive others you’ll be in a position to receive God’s forgiveness, it will spur on your spiritual growth and development, and you won’t be bound by that moment in the past when someone did you wrong… you’ll be able to move beyond it. That’s how it’s good for you spiritually.
But I mentioned that it’s also good for you physically. How?
(ulcers, stress, tension, restlessness, insomnia, bitterness, peace of mind…)
B. It stops the cycle of evil
An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind, right?
Speaking of going blind, it was quite the blackout this week, eh? 50 million people lost their electricity this week in Ontario and the Northeastern US. Right now, it looks like they’ve traced the problem back to the failure of three transmission lines in Ohio. But it’ll probably be a while before we hear anything definite. But this blackout was huge. It covered an area of 2400 square miles, shutting down 100 power plants including 22 nuclear plants.
Here’s a map of the area affected (PowerPoint).
And here’s a picture of the area from outer-space before… and after. (PowerPoint)
You know what I found out? There was a 700 megawatt surge that hit New Brunswick that day which tripped the appropriate breakers and sealed off the provinces generators from the grid. Otherwise, New Brunswick would have been part of the blackout. And since PEI buys most of its power from New Brunswick, we would have been affected, too.