Whether it is a spouse, family member, friend, or co-worker, we’ve all had situations where no matter how well we treat someone – they often harm us or do us wrong.
If we listen to our flesh, we’ll seek to retaliate or “one up them” – to “pay them back” and hurt them the way they hurt us.
But as believers in Christ, we are called to a higher standing – so just how do we balance setting healthy boundaries and still loving those who harm us? Here are a few tips to get you started.
Set Healthy Boundaries
If you have a friend who always seems to take her “bad days” out on you whenever you talk – even going so far as to be verbally abusive in her language and lash out at you– it’s critical you set a healthy boundary.
You can be loving, yet firm, and say something like, “Hey, I’m really sorry you had a bad day at work today, I love you, but it isn’t appropriate for you to take out your anger and snap at me. I am here for you and will listen, but if you are going to continue to speak to me this way, I’m going to have to end this conversation for today.”
Or, you can flip the script and say something like, “Hey you seem pretty upset right now, why don’t we take a moment to pray?”
A simple pause and disruption in the rant can shift the paradigm and lovingly alert your friend to their behavior.
Pray For Them
Do not underestimate the power of prayer.
When people hurt us, sometimes the LAST thing we want to do is pray for them!
Often times we pray for another person asking God to change them…
… but in the process, we are the ones who end up changed.
After all, it’s hard to stay mad at someone you are praying for every day, right?
Pray and ask God to help you see this person as He sees them.
You might develop a new sense of compassion for them.
Despite our best efforts, some people are unhealthy and “unsafe” – and will continue to be abusive no matter what boundaries you set.
Depending on the circumstances, it may be best to let go of the relationship completely.
If you have a toxic boss or are in an unsafe work environment – the solution might really be to leave and find a new job.
This doesn’t mean leave your job if a coworker is just having a bad day and happens to snap at you… but if you notice a continual culture of negativity – it truly might be best to remove yourself from the situation.
With that said – be quick to forgive – especially if someone humbles themselves and apologizes to you.
When we think about how much we sin and fail God daily, and how much He forgives us, it isn’t right to think we’re somehow above forgiving others.
You may think you are hurting someone who wronged you by not forgiving them, but you are only harming yourself.
Jesus does command us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
This does NOT mean becoming a doormat, but it does mean showing them what it truly means to live out your Christian faith and show love.
Showing love and kindness to those who are harsh is a powerful witness – especially to non-believers.
Of course, we can’t do any of this in our own strength, and being able to love others who have wronged us can only be done the right way if we are filled with the supernatural strength of God!
Let us continue to pray for God to grant us all the wisdom and discernment to handle the tricky situations in life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17
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