Letting Go of Resentment
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Luke 6:27-28
Today’s passage is one of those which, when I first read it, I just don’t see the application for my life. I don’t have any enemies. I know there are people who don’t like me but I’m unaware of anyone who is actively trying to curse or abuse me. If I’m willing to admit it though, there are those whom I really don’t desire to treat well, bless, or pray for. I may not consider them enemies, but I really don’t want anything to do with them.
Unfortunately, it’s often other Christians with whom I disagree and find myself at odds with the most. It’s not that I wish destruction upon them, but I certainly don’t naturally wish them well. In Christian addiction work, there is a lot of what I consider to be inaccurate and hurtful teaching. When I see another Christian leading an addict down a destructive path, I get not only frustrated, but angry. Once someone has offended me in this manner, it’s my tendency to just be done with them. If I’m being completely honest, I must admit that I harbor resentment, anger, and bitterness towards the one I consider to be spreading bad theology.
The problem of course, is that in my bitterness and resentment, I engage in spiritually destructive behavior myself. I might hide my dark thoughts behind a facade of caring for my fellow addict, but my fellow addict benefits nothing from my animosity towards another. My anger only hurts me and my relationship with the father.
In today’s passage, Jesus taught that we must love those with whom we find ourselves in conflict. Doing good, blessing, and praying for them may certainly have some transformative effect on those we dislike, but ultimately, Jesus’ teaching is for us. We aren’t responsible for the behavior of others, but we’re absolutely responsible for acting rightly ourselves.
Love your enemies . . . and your reward will be great (Luke 6:35). In hanging on to the resentment, we cling to conflict, poisoning our spiritual lives. It is only in blessing and praying for those we find ourselves at odds with, that we let go of the bitterness and anger, finding joy and peace ourselves.