There is no excuse for hurting people, not even if the hurt felt is caused by the ones who inflicted injury to you. We each are responsible for ensuring that the actions done by us are pleasing unto God. He has given us His Word as a guideline for living holy lives which emphasizes that we are compassionate, understanding and forgiving (Ephesians 4:32). He expects us to truly love each other with genuine affection (Romans 12:10), to be able to bless those who persecute us (vs 14) and if possible, to certainly live peaceably with all men (Hebrews 12:14).
Let us take a closer look at Romans 12. The chapter starts out by saying that we need to be ‘living sacrifices to God’. A sacrifice can be defined as “the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals to a higher purpose, in particular divine beings, as an act of propitiation or worship” (Wikipedia).
Merriam Webster defines a sacrifice as “the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone.”
Looking at it in the scope of Christianity and bearing Romans 12:1-2 in mind we will realize that our lives is the sacrifice that God requires from us. This means that we no longer have power over bodies because we have given up all rights. As long as we are living, we must be vessels that He use for His purpose and dare say to help His children. It is a lifelong commitment. It requires that we have ‘blind faith’ and ‘unyielding trust’ in His ability at being God. He expects that we give ourselves entirely to Him so that He do with us whatever He pleases. We must firmly believe that His decisions concerning our lives are meant to bring Him glory and as such we are encouraged to remain upon the ‘altar’.
It further goes on to say that “we must not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.” Once we have our minds becoming more like the mind of Christ, we begin responding how He wants us to respond. We begin thinking His thoughts and certainly reflecting His attitude (Philippians 2:5). This means that we are not going to retaliate negatively when we are hurt as how others outside of the faith would.
At times we will be find that we have to seal our lips from responding to the hurt we feel and focus on God so that we can allow His peace to rule our thoughts (Isaiah 26:3). We will be propelled by His Spirit to respond in a Christ-like manner (Proverbs 14:29 and 15:1) because all that we do again, must show that God lives within us and that He is at work in our vessels since we offered Him our bodies and minds as sacrifices (2 Corinthians 7:1-2). In so doing, we will be sure that our lives reflect His life and the things that He requires.
Now you may begin wondering how we will be able to offer ourselves as sacrifices and even how to really love those who have hurt us. The answer is as simple as this. According to James 4:7, it says that we must “Submit ourselves to God.” When we do this, He becomes in charge of our activities, He takes authority of our minds (Philippians 4:6-7). We become transformed from carnal thinking when we allow Him to be in charge of our lives and as a result, every thought and subsequently actions becomes subjected to Him (Romans 8:5). We give Him complete domination to do whatsoever He will with our lives and as a result, He will teach us how to live Godly lives. Through Him we will be victorious over all the circumstances we face (Philippians 4:13).
Christ our greatest example showed that love could be extended even in the most dire of circumstances. He paid the ultimate sacrifice when He was nailed to the cross. He was mocked, beaten, starved, disgraced, spat on, misunderstood, rejected, betrayed, lied on, abandoned, tortured, ridiculed and received so much more unjust treatment yet He remained willing to bear our shame. Even at the point of ‘giving up the ghost’ He was still offering love and compassion to the ones who denied Him being the Messiah and had Him crucified. Through it all we see where He remained humble (Isaiah 53).
Stephen, a disciple and yes, a mortal man while being stoned asked God to pardon his murderers (Acts 8:60). He kept his focus on heaven and accepted that what was occurring was working out for his good (Romans 8:28). He refused to harbor hate for His fellow men and to think about it, if He did He would have certainly lost His way. Various martyrs throughout history faced similar persecutions yet they never ceased to embrace in love the very ones who decided their ultimate fate of death.
We can therefore conclude that love is not a passive word. It requires us to be active in our minds and in our actions to each other despite the position we may find ourselves in. The genuineness of love becomes truly tested when we receive no love from those around (1 Peter 1:7).
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” (Romans 12:9-16)