Psalm 11:2 For look! The wicked bend their bow, They make ready their arrow on the string, That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart. (NKJV)
It is part of the human experience to be attacked by someone else. It is even more a part of Christianity to be persecuted further simply for loving Jesus. Our fleshly response is to be defensive or to retaliate.
There are many different reasons why the attacks happen, either by unbelievers or fellow Christians. The mature Christian will learn to discern these motives and respond accordingly. Very often, the attacker is hurting, stressed, confused or misled. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t times when the attacks are just simply evil being played out. Most certainly that happens routinely but sometimes, I’d even say in my experience, MOST of the time, there are circumstances behind the motives that open a door of ministry for us.
Hurt & Sympathy
Have you ever been attacked by someone you love or someone who is usually kind and it absolutely shocks you? When a person attacks you and it is totally out of their usual behavior, often you will find that they themselves are hurting over something. That doesn’t excuse their actions and it leaves some character work for them to do, but it also opens a door for you to show them understanding and forgiveness.
Being hurt doesn’t excuse the attacker,
but it does give us a chance to minister.
Sometimes people lash out at us because of hurt in their own life. It’s hard to explain why people do this but it’s a pretty common phenomenon. Perhaps it is the distraction, or maybe it’s just frustration being played out without concern for others. When an unbeliever is hurting, they simply do not have the power or resources available to Christians through the Holy Spirit. They have no Comforter, no Counselor, no One to see them through the valley of shadows. When a hurting Christian attacks, it is because they have not availed themselves of the comfort available to them.
Attacks are painful no matter what someone’s motives are but Christians have the unique opportunity to see past the attack and look with sympathy at a person who is lashing out in pain and despair. Empowered by the Holy Spirit we can actually have sympathy rather than anger because we understand that this hurting person has no access to the only Person who can truly heal their pain.
What is sympathy? Is it pity? Is it being soft towards their sinful behavior? Is it the ability to disregard the pain they’ve caused you?
The word sympathy is a combination of two thoughts that mean “from common feelings or experience”. In other words, it is the ability to understand another person because 1) you’ve been there, or 2) you deliberately put yourself in their shoes, from their perspective, in an effort to “experience” or understand their feelings or circumstances.
Would we react differently if we knew that the reason our co-worker is bad mouthing us is because they are hurting over their spouse cheating on them? Would we retaliate or minister to the person who just cussed you out if you knew one of their children was in total rebellion creating havoc at home? Would we want to punish or reach out to the family member who is attacking us if we knew that secretly they were on the edge of suicide from emotional distress?
It’s very difficult to list a bunch of easy-to-identify reasons or situations that constitute hurt. It’s takes an alert, forgiving and discerning Christian to see past the attack and into the heart. Next time someone slings an arrow at you, look carefully for signs that this person might be reacting to hurt in their own lives without the Great Physician to heal them. Then take that wonderful opportunity to show God’s love and forgiveness and perhaps that person will be drawn to the Lord through your response.
This is a tough part of the Christian character to develop because you have to quit caring about your own well being and your own reputation so much – and that is a monumental task for prideful man. In the end though, does it really matter if someone attacks you? Does it change who you are? Does it change your eternal destiny? Does it change God’s love for you? Does God believe the attacks are true about you? No, no, no and no.
So get past wanting to be vindicated or defend yourself. Look to the greater task of wanting to help your attacker find peace and comfort in the Lord.
Tomorrow we’ll look at attacks coming from stressed out people.
Lord God, help us to respond in righteousness to those who attack us. Help us to respond in such a way that our attackers clearly see their need for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Application: To be able to respond in love and compassion to an attacker takes a willful decision AHEAD of time. Rarely are we ready to respond instinctively with patience and understanding if we simply react to an attacker. We must decide proactive NOW to respond in love THEN. We can save ourselves so much stress and aggravation if we respond in righteousness to those who attack us rather than respond through our flesh with revenge and defensiveness.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?