Author: David Wilber
Have you ever heard the popular saying, “Hurt people hurt people”? The idea is that when someone acts like a jerk, someone else was likely a jerk to them. Someone planted that seed in his or her life. Thus, they don’t know what else to do except produce the fruit of death that comes forth from that seed.
Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve, our world has been in a constant state of corruption. Sin was brought into our world through Adam (Romans 5:12), and with sin came death, pain, suffering, and sorrow. As redeemed sons and daughters of the Most High and disciples of Yeshua (Jesus), how should we respond?
On one hand, we must accept the fact that evil and sin exist in our world. We await the “new heavens and new earth” when God will set everything right and restore all things back to perfection (Revelation 21-22). But that doesn’t mean we just sit on our hands and wait for God to fix everything. No, we are called to be part of God’s restoration process.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in. (Isaiah 58:12)
Our world is broken and corrupt, and God’s people are commissioned to reverse the curse by means of performing God’s mitzvot (commandments). We learn from the Bible that God’s mitzvot are ways of life. Indeed, following God’s instructions results in blessing and restoration. On the other hand, ignoring His instructions contributes to the death and corruption of our fallen world.
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Not only does following God’s mitzvot bring life, but it also helps prepare the world for the coming of Messiah’s Kingdom. In fact, Peter said that when we live a holy life we are “hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:11-12). Sometimes it’s difficult to believe that our actions make that big of an impact in this world, and this is mostly because we don’t often see the results. As humans, we have limited, finite perspectives. How does resting on the Sabbath, giving to the poor, or praying for our enemies practically bring restoration or hasten Yeshua’s coming? The simple answer is that we don’t always see it with our natural eyes, but we walk in faith. We don’t have to see the results because we are to trust God at His Word.
With that in mind, let’s get back to the “hurt people hurt people” concept. Have you ever considered that God allows certain people to insult or offend you so you can take the bullet and stop the cycle of hurt? What if God chose you to be hurt so that you can respond with a seed of life and love—thereby reversing the curse instead of perpetuating it? Perhaps God uses our spiritual maturity, through the grace and love of Messiah, to bring restoration in these small ways when we deal with hurt people.
The easy thing to do when someone acts like a jerk towards us is to react from the basis of the pain that person caused us. We immediately get defensive, seek validation, and often retaliate. Sometimes these conflicts will ruin our entire day to the point where we can’t even think about anything else. Reacting this way only adds to the corruption. When we retaliate and repay evil with evil, we continue to sow those same seeds of death that were just sown into us. This is not the spiritual response that Messiah expects of His ambassadors. Torah instructs us not to take vengeance, but to love those who have hurt us:
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:18)
Paul instructs us not to avenge ourselves, but to submit it to God. He further instructs us to love and care for our enemies and overcome evil with good:
If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)
We must remember that Yeshua loved us while we were still sinners. It’s only by His grace that we are a new creation. Therefore, we must display His love and grace to those who sin against us. That’s the ministry we’ve been given. And after all, it is God’s kindness that leads to repentance.
Love is the only thing that can truly repair this broken world.
One might say, “Well that sounds nice, but how do you expect me to actually do this? You don’t understand how badly I’ve been hurt. And some people just don’t change. They aren’t interested in healing or reconciliation.”
First of all, this goes back to walking in faith. Trust God and love beyond what you can see with your natural eyes. In other words, true love doesn’t depend on how others respond. Understand that your identity is in Yeshua, not in their acceptance of you or whether or not they ever change. Once you love truly, as Messiah loved you (even while you were still a sinner), you will be released from your need of acceptance from people. Even if they never repent for hurting you, don’t contribute to the corruption by repeating the cycle of hurt. (Now, that certainly doesn’t mean you must keep a close relationship with them or that there aren't consequences to their unrepentance.) We are called to subject ourselves to the Spirit, not our flesh. Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit and help you be the restorer you’re called to be.
Secondly, never lose hope. Pray for them. If God changed you, He can change them. Søren Kierkegaard once said, “Never cease loving a person, and never give up hope for him, for even the prodigal son who had fallen most low, could still be saved; the bitterest enemy and also he who was your friend could again be your friend; love that has grown cold can kindle.”
This is the hardest and most unreasonable commandment in Scripture. Everything inside of us does not want to love our enemies and pray for those who have hurt us. But according to Yeshua, that's part of what it means to be children of our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:45). We are to live a holy life. We are to have the heart of Yeshua who commanded us to turn the other cheek. We are to bring restoration and hasten the coming of the day of God. It's not easy, but if the Holy Spirit lives inside of you, He will help you. Walk in faith.
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