When was the last time someone sinned against you?
It can be a harsh and perplexing reality, but in his divine wisdom, God has chosen to keep us in a world populated with flawed individuals. There's no covenant promise that includes an exemption clause from being sinned against. In fact, Jesus predicted just the opposite! (See Matthew 18:15, Luke 17:4, and John 16:33)
Many times, these sins will be indirect, impersonal, or unintentional, the natural result of colliding sinners. But there will also be moments when another person crafts a malicious plan against us, or knowingly advances their selfish agenda at our expense.
Either way, we're going to be hurt, and we're going to respond in some fashion. This week, I want to share 8 common responses we have when we've been wounded by another:
- Regret: We'll wish that we had acted or spoke differently in the past so as to potentially avoid this present hardship.
- Fear: We'll begin to expect the worst in people and live paralyzed and skeptical lives as we prepare for future betrayal.
- Defend: We'll promise ourselves that we won't be hurt again and withdraw into a bunker of self-protection.
- Withhold: Forgetting how much we've been forgiven in Christ, we'll slip into a cocoon of silence and refuse to deal with the person who has hurt us.
- Retaliate: For those of us who aren't as passive, we'll be angry and struggle not to devise words or actions that will repay others for the hurt they inflicted upon us.
- React: For those of us who are more impulsive, we'll say or do things that aren't necessarily retaliatory, but that are unwise decisions made in haste.
- Judge: On a vertical level, we'll bring God into the court of our judgement and demand an explanation as to why he allowed this suffering in our lives.
- Doubt: Similiarly, we'll begin to doubt the Lord and his characteristics - his love, mercy, and grace. After all, how could a good God allow such things to happen?
These are instinctive and understandable reactions; I've experienced them all in some capacity. But what do each of these responses have in common? They make our suffering and pain the most important thing in our life.
The fact of the matter is that God has designed for us to endure these painful experiences. He has us exactly where he wants us. He never manages a poor schedule, and he never gets a wrong address. He places us in interpersonal difficulty because he intends that difficulty to be a workroom of redemption.
So the next time you're sinned against, remember that you're not alone, and remember that what's happening to you isn’t an accident or an oversight. In ways that are hard to grasp, you're being loved.
Rest in that love and run to its source, saying no to all those other responses that only add further trouble to the trouble you are already experiencing.
P.S. - Next week I'll share 4 God-centered, grace-recognizing ways to respond when we've been sinned against again.
- How were you sinned against this past week?
- How did you react when you were wounded? Be specific when evaluating your words or actions.
- In what ways was your response self-centered and self-focused?