I had coffee with some friends this week and, in the course of our chatting, we discussed the difficult subject of confronting people who have caused us pain. It was something we’d all experienced, and most of us shared that we were reluctant to confront those who had hurt us because we’d probably only be hurt again.
But one of the group encouraged us to speak up in those situations, because the Lord teaches us to speak the truth. However, he continued, we must speak the truth with love and with charity, even when speaking to those who have wronged us. We are meant to hold each other accountable, but we need to be careful not to multiply the wrongs by answering anger with anger, or falsehood with falsehood.
I was inspired in the moment, but after our conversation ended, doubt crept back in. When I think of those who have hurt me, my first response is sadness and anger. How can I find a way to let love and charity lead the conversation?
The answer is, of course, prayer. By taking the time to pray first, I open my heart to the love and charity God would have me show to everyone, even those who have wronged me. And I do not pray just for the right words for that person. I pray for that person, that God might enter his or her heart and heal the brokenness within that led them to be hurtful. I also pray for the people I have hurt, and for my own forgiveness and healing.
Anger and hate are like wildfires in the spirit – flaring up, doing great damage, leaping from one heart to the other with great speed. To beat back the flames, we must speak as the Lord did, with strong truths framed in love and charity. We must pray for others and for ourselves, that all hearts may be cleansed and renewed, all falsehood abandoned and all truth embraced.
Let us be guided by His Word and fill our words, and our hearts, with love and truth in all we say and do.
“…God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
1 John 1:5-7