The Lord is very good at bringing circumstances into our lives that truly challenge us to become more like Him. It is not enough to say, “Lord, I want to be what you want me to be.” We have to actually be willing to do it. I’m feeling challenged right now, almost beyond my capacity.
I had been seriously slandered a week or two ago. I confronted the person who perpetrated such a hurtful act and he promptly apologized, explaining he had gotten his feelings hurt and lashed out by lying and vilifying me. I apologized for hurting his feelings. He promised to rectify the situation, as he should. After all, it is my reputation. The Scriptures plainly tell us a good name is to be desired above riches. Not to mention all that stuff about not bearing false witness. I was truly hurt because I had gone to great lengths to protect his reputation many times.
It was recently brought to my attention that he not only did NOT rectify the situation, but continued to flame and espouse the lies. It truly was like a dagger to my heart. I had many reasons not to trust him, but in every circumstance had consistently taken each apology and promise to repent and do better as sincere. I could no longer do that. My first reaction was unrestrained anger. I cried out to God requesting he be held accountable for his actions. I wanted him punished.
My next reaction was self preservation. I can be longsuffering, but at some point I have to protect myself. I would slowly distance myself from him so I would no longer have to deal with the hypocrisy. I tend to pull inward when betrayed. Then I went to the Lord in prayer for guidance. Why was that my third response? Shouldn’t it have been my first? I’m ashamed of that.
Often when I am seeking guidance from my Heavenly Father in prayer my next step is to read my Scriptures. That is where I feel the Spirit speak to me most specifically. Asking God to guide me to what I needed to understand about this situation, I opened my treasure from Heaven.
To be honest (and this shows just how unkind I can be) I half expected He would direct me to passages that talked about us trusting in Him and promising that the wicked would face judgment in due time. Instead I read this:
“But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust……Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect.”
Frankly, I wasn’t sure I could. How can I possibly interact with him as if he doesn’t deserve to be wacked upside the head? Shouldn’t I confront him again? (Fortunately he doesn’t read blogs, so I’m free to explore and reason through my thoughts and emotions). I felt he deserved to be held to account so it would be hypocritical to interact with him otherwise. But, there is the part of that passage that says, “He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good”. So, it appears, if I truly want to be like my Heavenly Father, I need to do the same.
I have two choices. I could behave as the unrighteous sons of Lehi and say, “It is a hard thing you have required of me.”, or I can respond as the righteous Nephi and say, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded.” I know which choice is right. Somehow just typing this out makes it easier. Don’t ask me why.
I really do want to honor my Heavenly Father in everything. I wish it were easier sometimes. But, I can see Him skillfully, one by one, peeling back my natural man to reveal the ugly cancers in my soul, and with unprecedented skill help me remove the unrighteousness that would destroy my soul. I’m grateful to Him for it, and will cheerfully (or at least willingly) do what my Father asks.