14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. - 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18
See that no one relays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another means when people treat you poorly, your response is for their best interest. We all have those difficult people in our lives who seem to know exactly how to challenge us or hurt us. They are often demanding or harsh, inconsiderate or self-focused. These difficult people can play the victim game, or they seem to always be surrounded by drama.
But here we are commanded to repay their hurtful or harsh words, their drama and their challenges with good. This can be most difficult to live out in the heat of the moment when hurtful words start to fly. Our defenses go up, we want to protect, and we want attack. If we are going to rely on God in moments like these, then we must be in His Word daily, it must be stored in our hearts to rise up over the powerful emotions in the moment. His Word needs to live in our hearts to battle the stream of thoughts that come after an emotional encounter as our flesh works to justify our actions.
For God to protect my heart in moments like these, I must remember the bigger picture - His greatest priority is to see all people come to know Him as their Lord and Savior, even those people who may have hurt me with their words or actions. And since the people who hurt us are generally the same people who we're praying for salvation, how we respond in the moment can have a huge impact.
Seeing the other person through the eyes of Jesus helps me to change my response. People are defined by experiences. If we are bitter, or harsh, or filled with drama, it is because our experiences have taught us to respond in this way. If we are tempted toward a particular sin, our experiences have rewarded that behavior when we’ve struggled. It’s not an excuse for wrong behavior, but it is an explanation for why people behave in a certain way. My disposition and my strongholds are a product of my experiences, but these are the very things that God continues to refine in me. He has broken generational strongholds and changed my disposition through years of work on my heart. He has revealed things to me over time through prayer, through His Word, through teaching from the pulpit, and through the influence of Godly people in my life. There are things about my behavior that I simply did not see until He revealed them to me. I work hard to see those difficult people in my life in the same way - people that God is at work revealing and refining their hearts.
Knowing my response has the power to draw them closer to God or the power to push them away has taught me to temper what I do and say. I don’t ever want to be a roadblock to refining or saving work of Jesus. I want the difficult people in my life to see Christ reflected in me. Do not repay evil with evil. If we seek His will, He will not let us repay evil with evil. His will for us is not to give back to people what they deserve, but to do good to everyone - even the ones that hurt us the most.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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