In Matthew 5:44, Jesus reveals what to do when people hurt you. Pray for them. Release them to God. Entrust your well-being to Him, who rightfully measures vengeance and saves the repentant.
When they accuse you, pray for them. When they insult you, pray for them. When you find they have used you, pray for them. When you find they will even pursue you to cause you to suffer, pray for them.
In this way, you protect your own heart and direct their attention to the God of Heaven. You show holiness. You show that you bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, which is self-control (Galatians 5:22, 23).
You see, true Christians are becoming like Christ. When He was vilified, He did not reply in the same manner or spirit. When He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to God, His Heavenly Father. (Read 1 Peter 2:19-23.) This example He left for us, knowing that those who follow in His footsteps would likewise suffer persecution. Like Job, the disciples of Christ, and the early church, we would be targets of satanic attack.
Peter, once known for sudden and decisive vengeance, when he was truly converted, became like Christ. He said if anyone patiently endures grief, suffering wrongfully, such behavior is acceptable with God. That is to which a Christian is called. There is no glory, he contends, to those who patiently receive punishment for wrongs of their own doing.
You see, God is a righteous judge. In fact, vengeance belongs to Him. He promises to repay those who do wickedly. The Bible is replete with the acts of God against those who wrong those who are His.
Christians are to do that which does not come naturally for mankind. In the moment of attack, like Stephen (Acts 7), maintain focus on Christ. Confidently rest in Him, knowing some day we will delight ourselves in the abundance of peace. But until then, while we exist in a sinful world, we can experience great peace in loving God’s law. When we truly love His law, nothing will cause us to sin (Psalm 119:165). Those truly borne of God will not sin, because they can no longer sin against God (1 John 3:9). They fully belong to God and are filled with His Holy Spirit of love.
When the love of Christ is perfected in His own, they show no fear. For you see, it is fear that fights back. Distrusting God, the fearful acts out of self-preservation. Given to God, we readily recognize that we war not against flesh. We recognize the perpetrator is not the husband, not the wife, not the sister or brother, parent or child, friend or stranger. Rather, he or she is the victim of satanic influence. So we pray for their release from evil and do good, according to Jesus in Matthew 5. Once released, they will ask for your forgiveness. Don’t withhold it. Actually, have it waiting.
Better yet, offer it, as God’s Spirit leads. Although it took years for me to tell an offender that I held no more anger in my heart about a matter, it was well worth it. I received a deep and ready apology beyond my expectations—and not only to me but also to another loved one. I was encouraged to continue being Christlike in the way that was rarely seen in that person’s experience of more than seventy years. It meant a lot to me to hear the words of appreciation I heard that day. The investment of simply offering mercy returned with immediate interest for my own well-being and that of my family.
I realize not every case can be settled in peace. The Bible says, as far as it is possible, live peaceably with all men. That suggests sometimes it won’t be possible. In such cases, there is comfort in knowing God will handle it masterfully. King David testifies to that in Psalm 37 for our benefit.