My husband texted me the other day to let me know he was going to buy a hot dog for a homeless man that he runs into regularly. You see, my husband works in a town nearby, downtown for the City. His typical day is spent cleaning up the city and keeping it beautiful for the residents. Some days, it entails weed eating, other days, like this particular day, it entails cleaning up after people and the mess that they leave.
This man, in particular, is one of the many homeless people in the city that my husband sees on an almost daily basis. However, this man… he is never very friendly or kind to my husband, he leaves cigarettes all over the ground, among other things. My husband had politely asked this man, on this particular day, to dispose of his cigarettes in the trash can, the man responded with “that’s not in my religion”. Really?
Do you know how I would have responded? I probably would have walked off, on a worse day, I likely would have had a snippy remark right back to him. Just to get the last word. Instead, what did my husband do? He took part of his lunch money and bought the guy a hot dog. Then, my husband gave him his last drink out of his cooler for that day. How did the man respond? With “this was just what I needed”. Kindness.
[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. -Proverbs 19:17 ESV[/dropshadowbox]
A simple, yet eye opening example of someone who didn’t really deserve kindness that day.
A simple example of showing Christ to others.
Recently, our family has been hurt deeply by a couple of different situations. There have been some hurtful, even what some may call, spiteful things done and said to our family.
I will be the first to admit-I haven’t always acted like a Christian during the situations.
I have been angry.
I have wanted to shut our family off from these situations.
I have wanted to put forgiveness on the ‘back burner’.
I have wondered how someone could say and do such things to people they love.
[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. -Ephesians 4:32,ESV[/dropshadowbox]
Then I came across that verse. It kept playing in the back of my mind. He forgave me, why can’t I forgive them?
[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Because I am human. Because I am stubborn. Because I am a sinner.[/dropshadowbox]
That’s why. What do we do when people don’t deserve our kindness? Whether it’s a person on the street what we don’t know, or a person who has been in our life, for our entire life. What do we do? What are we called to do?
We are called to forgive. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32
It’s so difficult, isn’t it? To forgive. We don’t want to. But, I am forgiven! I have to constantly remind myself of that when someone wrongs me.
What is forgiveness? It is understanding that we are forgiven. It is understanding that even when we don’t feel like it, we need to forgive. We need to let go of the hurtful things-for their sake and ours.
What is forgiveness NOT? Forgiveness does not mean putting myself or my family in harms way. It does not mean stewing over things or rehashing them over and over again. It does not mean that I let that person babysit my child or have control over my life.
We are called to do good, and not harm. But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you – Luke 6:27
Do I sometimes want to spread the news of what that person did to me? Absolutely. That’s gossip though. That harms their reputation. I forgive them, I do good-in my husband’s situation, he gave the man lunch when he needed it.
Do we co-sign a loan for these people? Of course not. Do we let them sleep in our house? Sometimes, the answer is no. But we don’t go splattering their name and situation all over social media. If they are truly in need of food, we give it to them, we don’t withhold it just because they hurt us. Mainly, we don’t withhold the Gospel from them just because they hurt us.
I guard my heart. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. -Proverbs 4:23
Forgiving and doing good does not mean we open ourselves up to people who hurt us over and over again. We forgive “seven times seventy”…absolutely. I do believe though, that the Bible firmly distinguishes between forgiving and guarding our hearts. This includes protecting our families. Does it mean that sometimes we remove people and situations from our lives who are harming us and hurting us? Yes. Does it mean we protect our children and spouse with all that we have? Absolutely. Does it mean that if a situation is tempting me to be ungodly or lose my temper and patience, do I stop putting myself in that situation? Of course.
This world is full of hurts.
Forgive, do good, guard your heart.
How do you handle people and situations that hurt you?