This is part one in a four part series dealing with hurt based out of Matthew 5:43-48.
Recently, my wife wrote an article titled “3 Ways to Pray for Those Who Are Hurting.” Be sure to check it out. The response to the article has been very positive, with some folks writing and telling her how it was a help and a blessing to them. I am becoming increasingly aware that there are hurting people everywhere. Hurt comes in many forms. It may be from friends, family, work, school, church, etc. For me, personally, rejection is the hardest hurt to overcome.
Rejection, too, comes in many forms. There were times I brought it upon myself, due to pride or my own failure. Sometimes, it just happened, and I am still not sure the reason why. Even though the hurt was real and no fun to experience, as I look back, I am thankful that the situation turned out the way that it did. I think the hurt from rejection is greatest and cuts the deepest when you do everything to remain loyal and avoid it, yet you are rejected anyway. (There is an expectation that loyalty is rewarded, not punished.) I have seen this hurt destroy Christians because they didn’t know how to properly respond. I remember a time when I saw someone who was influential in my life, and he purposefully hung his head and looked the other way as I passed by. I walked away from that with this thought, “What did I do to deserve that? I have been nothing but kind, gracious, and loyal to a fault with that person. If I make them feel uncomfortable…well, that is completely on them; they own it!” Then, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” (1 Sam 8:7)
My mind began to wander about how we, as God’s creation, often reject Him in our own lives. We declare what we want, when we want it; and we sacrifice God’s best for our own wants and desires. Oh, how that must make Him feel! Jesus is very acquainted with hurt and rejection. Isaiah 53:3 says that Jesus was, “…despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” In Hebrews 12:3, we are told to, “consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” When hurt comes, if we fail to consider our Saviour and what He went through to bring us salvation, we will faint at the site of a much lesser hurt. Many saints have given up. I have heard stories from many different people telling how they were wronged, usually by other Christians in the church and, sometimes, even by the pastor. I know that the hurt is real, but what does the Bible say about hurt? Over the course of the next few articles, we will take a look at Matthew 5:43-48 to see how Jesus instructs us to respond.
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Some would be quick to run to Matthew 18:15-17, where we find clear instructions regarding when direct confrontation is needed to make a wrong against a fellow Christian right. I have personally used the steps listed in Matthew 18 and found that they do work for their intended purpose of restoring or disciplining someone within the church body. Here in Matthew 5, however, we have instructions given for those who are outside the church. This may apply to unsaved friends, neighbors, relatives, acquaintances, co-workers, bosses, or even (gulp!) enemies. Some of these people may or may not be Christians; but what they have in common is that they don’t fall under the same church authority found in Matthew 18. Though it would be very beneficial to study Matthew 18 for its practical application, for the purpose of this article I will limit my topic to Matthew 5.
If you respond properly to hurt, you will be communicating two things to those around you and to the one who hurt you. The first is found in verse forty five, “That ye may be the children of your Father…” Remember that you are not your own anymore (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). You belong to the Father, and He cares about how you respond to hurt. We are to respond the way God would have us to respond because we are his children. We may dwell in this world, but we are not of this world anymore. We belong to a kingdom that is above, and we should behave like we belong there. The second thing you will be communicating is found in verse forty eight, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” The idea behind the word perfect doesn’t mean “without fault”; it simply means mature. In response to having to deal with some immature parents, I have commented before, “What, are we still in Jr. High?” (There really is nothing worse than an adult acting like a child.) The childlike response when you are hurt is to lash out and hurt back, but a perfect and mature Christian doesn’t do this. He rises above, separates the hurt from the reaction, and responds properly. When you do, it is a direct reflection upon your relationship with God; and it tells others how big or small He is to you. Responding properly and Biblically doesn’t lesson the pain. It doesn’t even make it easier to cope with, but what it does do is allow you to walk away from the situation, after it is all over, with a clear conscience and a character that is above reproach.
You may never get over the hurt, but what is important is that you get past it. The Lord has no desire for you to remain suffering. You may not even get back what you lost, but you can move on from it. Do you remember Daniel’s three friends (Daniel 3:1-30)? They went through a furnace that was seven times hotter than normal. It may be that you will go through a painful experience that seems like it is seven times worse than what those around you have gone through, but it will be the Lord who sees you through it. He may have even ordained it to be. (Job 1:7-12) Let’s respond like we are a child of the King, and a mature and perfect one at that. One day, you will look back with gladness and say, “That was the perfect way to handle that hurt.”
I hope that this series of articles will be a blessing to you. My goal is to release the next article in the series each week. This may not always be the case due to other responsibilities, but check back often!