The books of Matthew and Luke both talk about our behavior as it relates to those who treat us poorly:
Matthew 5: 44-45 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Luke 6:28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
What comes as not a surprise to me but something that I have a question about is how to rid myself of bitterness, anger, and resentment against those that I’m loving and praying for. I’m hopeful that if I keep doing what I’m supposed to be doing—loving and praying and blessing—that eventually I won’t feel the bitterness, anger, and resentment. The more time goes by and the less those feelings fade, the weaker my hope becomes.
Trouble is, if I’m hating the person I’m praying for God knows it and I feel guilty. My prayer is tainted with insincerity. I don’t really want the person to be blessed. I want them to die and go away. I want God to smite them with His righteous wrath, hit them with a lightning bolt or something epic.
The quote goes “bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” This doesn’t sound like too bad an idea, really. Eventually, either I’ll die from the poison or the other person will die of something else. One way or another I’ll be rid of the feelings that threaten to eat away my heart and poison my soul.
I grow weary of people who spend their time proclaiming what worries them, what they don’t like, what they don’t understand and then they walk away without offering something toward a solution. I pray for these people, too. So rather than be one of those people, I confess my answer is I don’t yet have an answer. All I can offer is a plan of action—to be obedient, give the question to God, and focus on activities outside of the resentment-anger-bitterness-filled environment. Hope or no hope, whether the feelings go away or not, I choose to serve God by being obedient.
That sounds so churchy, and so not-an-answer. It is true, however, and that is all I can put forth. Other people may have tips and techniques and acronyms that are supposed to help. I pray for the tips and techniques people, too, but I don’t buy their books or go to their churches.