To show grace is to be kind, merciful, benevolent and lenient in your thoughts and actions toward others. To show grace is to be a blessing and to pray for the person. We know that when a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. —Proverbs 16:7
Jesus asks us to love our enemies and do good to those who hurt us. Sometimes this is a very difficult thing to do.
If you grew up in an abusive home, if you have been betrayed by someone you loved and trusted, if you have been the subject of ugly gossip, or have suffered wrong in another way, just looking at the person can bring back those feelings of hurt. How can you show grace to those who have victimized you, when you do not even want to be around them?
In the Old Testament, David cried out to the Lord:
Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul. He shall reward evil unto mine enemies: cut them off in thy truth. —Psalm 54:4-5
David asked God to save him from his enemies, to bring evil and destruction on those who sought to hurt him. God delivered David, and made him king over all Israel. However, when God sent His Son, Jesus, as the true King of Israel, Jesus came with a new message of grace towards those who are our enemies.
When we are faced with thoughts of those who have wounded us, the first reaction might be to think like David, and want to ask God to deal harshly with our enemies. However, this is not what Jesus wants. One thing that helps is to remember what Jesus said about our enemies.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is 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. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. —Mathew 5:43-48
How to show grace to your enemies
The best action to take is to pray for the people who have done wrong to you.
- Ask God to forgive them
- Ask God to give you a heart of forgiveness towards them
- Ask God to bless them
As you continue in prayer, you will find that over time you will begin to forgive the person. You may not develop a relationship with that person, but Jesus does not ask us to befriend our enemies, only have grace towards them.
- When you see the person, make an effort to smile at him or her. A smile is a way of showing grace.
- Do not talk to your friends about how the person hurt you, or keep the cycle going in any way. If someone asks, simply respond saying you have prayed about the situation behind you and would rather not talk about it. Doing this will help you by not adding fuel to a fire of sadness or bitterness in your heart
- Memorize this scripture and repeat it to yourself when you are tempted to relive the hurt or betrayal: If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. —Romans 12:18-21