Responding To Those Who Did Us Wrong
“I can’t believe he did that!” “What a jerk!” “They are morons!” We often feel like this when people have hurt us, whether on purpose or carelessly. When we are hurt, we act in different ways—perhaps we want to run away, perhaps we want to lash out, perhaps we want to pretend it never happened, perhaps we want to “talk it out.” Jesus and his followers say that the way to respond to those who hurt us is to attempt to make peace, instead of hostility. The way of peace is to listen, confront and to accept. How to do this is explained below:
Stop ourselves from being hostile. (Romans 12:17, 21)
When we have been wronged, we often want to respond in kind or to hurt the other person in some way. Sometimes we want to just separate ourselves from the one who hurt us and never come back. Sometimes we want to lash out at the person, verbally or even physically. The first thing we must do is to ask for God’s strength to be “slow to anger”, and to not respond with punishment.
Check our principles for judging (Matthew 7:1-2)
We have to decide if we have the right to judge the one who hurt us. Are we judging them by God’s standards of right and wrong, or our own? Are we assuming what their motivation was, or do we know? Do we have our facts straight? To help with this process, you might want to look at another tract, “Judging With a Right Judgement”.
Check our motivation for responding (I Corinthians 16:14)
In everything we do to another, if we do it according to the Lord, we do it for the benefit of the other person. Do we want to respond to the hurt in order to hurt in return? Do we want to just make ourselves feel better? Do we want the other person to admit they did wrong? Do we want to insist upon our “rights”? None of these motivations are according to the Lord. Instead, if we respond to someone who hurt us, we want to help them to grow in the Lord or to allow there to be reconciliation between us.
Ask the other person for their perspective and listen (James 1:19)
Rather than being hostile, which is an easy out, our first task is to listen to the other person’s perspective. Most of the time, we will find, that people either didn’t intend to hurt us at all, or they were responding to a misunderstanding of our words or actions which caused them to be hurt. If we can understand what they were really doing, then we can better evaluate how to prevent such a situation happening again.
Speak about how we were hurt (Matthew 18:15; Luke 17:3; Galatians 6:1)
We need to let the person who hurt us know how they hurt us and what they did. This step is essential, for the person might not know that they have done anything wrong, or not know that they have hurt anyone else. Even if it seems like it is obvious, we need to tell them. We should try not to say, “you did this wrong”, but talk about the actions that hurt us, and anything Jesus and the apostles say about that kind of action. When we speak about our hurt, we need to be brief and to be gentle, hoping for reconciliation.
Listen again. (Matthew 18:15-16)
We need to give the other person a chance to respond to our statement. Perhaps they will want to reconcile, perhaps they will want to say how we misunderstood what they intended. Of course, they may also want to excuse their behavior and claim that they were right to hurt. Whatever the response, we need to give them the opportunity to show how they really feel about their action.
Accept any attempt at repentance and reconciliation.(Luke 17:3-4)
If the person who did wrong makes some attempt at correcting their wrong, we should accept them. We must not look for a particular formula of apology or reconciliation. If the person, in some way, admits a wrong they have done, and is looking for the relationship to be restored, then we need to do our part and try to restore the relationship. This is the case, even if they have hurt us time and time again!
If they don’t want to reconcile, then get someone else involved. (Matthew 18:16)
If either party of a hurt doesn’t want to reconcile—either because one thinks they haven’t done anything wrong, or because one doesn’t want to forgive a repented wrong done—then someone who is of the peaceful Holy Spirit and is objective in the situation should come in to attempt to restore the relationship. That person should be able to listen to both sides fairly and to determine, according to Jesus, what could be done.
If trust isn’t possible, bear with each other (Galatians 6:2)
If the two of us were unable to completely resolve the conflict, then the teaching of Jesus is that we are still to love each other and care for each other. That doesn’t mean that we need to be “best friends”, but we need to be able to live together and at times serve together in the community. Perhaps, over time, the issues will be resolved.
Work something out to prevent the situation from happening again. (Matthew 18:15-17)
The ones involved in the hurt should make some kind of informal (or sometimes, formal) plan to prevent the hurt from happening again. This should almost always involve action on both sides, in order not to cause another to fall away from God or His ways (Mark 7:42-50). If one party refuses to reconcile, then a separation may be necessary until they are willing to.
If the way of Jesus’ peace sounds appealing, but too difficult, consult with your local pastor to gain spiritual strength and counsel, or call the number below.
In as much as we are able, let us be at peace with everyone.