“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you … If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” – Matthew 5:44 – 46
In a previous post, I wrote about a difficult situation at work where my manager is unfairly targeting and singling me out. This is arguably the worst treatment that’s ever been inflicted upon me by another human being. Throughout 2016, I’ve been asking myself why this is happening. I do believe that it’s a spiritual test and an opportunity: Can I forgive her? Will I able to love my enemy?
I’ve been a Christian for a long time. But I still struggle with sin and selfishness and constantly ask myself if my faith is truly reflected in my life. It’s well known that God’s greatest command is to love Him. Check – got that! His second greatest command is to love others. Ahem. Yeah, I’m still working on that one.
It’s easy for me to love God. Our Heavenly Father is perfect, after all. Other people? Not so much. Let’s just say that I’m all too aware of the sin and selfishness in people (and I include myself in this category). When someone disappoints me, it’s easy for me to walk away.
But in this case, with my manager, I couldn’t walk away because we work together. We are constantly forced to interact. I asked myself, “What would God want me to do in this situation?” And looking at Matthew 5, the answer I received was that I needed to forgive her and to love my enemy.
But it is so hard.
I’ve spent countless hours agonizing over this situation and analyzing my manager in a vain attempt to understand her. In my head, I wanted to forgive her and be obedient to God. But my heart was resistant; I had been mistreated for too long. My internal dialogue went something like this: “Where is the justice? So, I’m just going to let her get away with it?”
And I’ve spent hours talking to my dad (my earthly father – God bless him for his patience and support!) about it.
Me: I want to forgive her but it’s so hard. Look at Jesus … he’s able to love and forgive his enemies. Why can’t I be like that?
Dad: He’s Jesus. You’re not.
What I’ve concluded is that Jesus is able to see into the inner depths of our hearts and psyches; He knows everything about us and what drives us, including the experiences and pain that are often expressed in the mistreatment of others. Jesus, who knows everything, sees the ugliness and sin in people and He loves us anyway.
I don’t know my manager well enough on a personal level to understand what truly drives her. But I suspect that her unfair treatment of me stems from her character flaws and racial prejudice. Yes, Satan is working, big time. What allows me to hold my head up high is that I’m absolutely positive that I’ve done nothing to warrant the current situation.
I’ve listened to numerous sermons on the topic of forgiveness. On repeat. What I’ve learned is this: Forgiveness is for me. It’s not for the other person. A grudge is like a toxin that’s poisoning me. By forgiving, I’m releasing that poison.
I think I’m finally at a place where I’m ready to forgive. It’s a new year. I’m ready for a fresh start.
Me: I want to love my enemy, so it’s so hard!
Him: Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.