It is easy to miss our own failures when our eyes are on the failures of others. When we have been wronged, we dwell on every aspect of the injustice. We turn it over in our minds enough to know every nuance of the wrong done to us. We consider how easily we see how they should have behaved. The matter is settled in our minds. We are the intentional victims of the actions of another.
Now we nurse our wounds. Maybe we do so in seclusion, gallantly protecting the wrong doer. Or maybe we enlist the sympathy of our friends to our plight. Misery loves company.
Time passes. Maybe a little, maybe a lot depending on how long our heart takes to soften. Then we forgive the person. We begin to realize they are trapped in their own wounds. Maybe they did not do it intentionally. Maybe they did not realize the extent of their behavior.
This process goes on, but the whole time it is other focused. We are still the victim. We may even give a cursory acknowledgment of our faults in the past, but today we are the victim. Today they are the perpetrator. We are the one suffering the injury, the insult, the injustice.
Our vision, impeded by the plank, sees the speck as larger than life. We know we did not do this particular wrong at this moment in time, so we believe we have no plank to remove. They have to do all the work to restore their wrong. We can forgive, but they have to fix it.
In fact, we can be so convinced of this that the whole time we are reading this, we are thinking of how much another person that comes to the forefront of our mind needs to be reading this.
We can proceed in this manner as the rightful sufferer of injustice or we can try a more excellent way. Love keeps no records of wrongs suffered. Love always preservers.
Galatians 6:1 “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently”
When we follow the way of love, we are going to be more concerned about the restoration of the person who sinned against us, than our own wound. We are going to suffer the blow and check to see if they are doing alright.
As long as our eyes are fixed on the wrong suffered we will sow into the Kingdom of darkness. We will respond wrongly. It is not about what was done, it is about the quality of our love. It does not matter who did the most wrong, it only matters who is going to love the most to restore the connection.
Matthew 7:3-5 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Notice it is always a plank in our own eye and a speck in our brother’s eye. Only when we humble ourselves to see ourselves as the greater problem and position ourselves to work on that problem, can we see clearly to help another. As long as we remain the victim we will always be the victim.
There are no victims in the Kingdom of God. We are all empowered by God’s love to love God and love our neighbor. If we do not love our neighbor (who may be our friend, coworker, spouse, sibling, parent, or enemy) we do not love God with our whole mind, soul, and strength.
We might have believed a lie up to this point. The lie tells us we have a right to turn off our love. We have a right to not extend mercy. We have a right to stop forgiving. The lie may tell us the other person has more responsibility than we do to set things right. The lie may tell us that all of this is a great lesson for someone else and if only they would live this way then things would be better. But the lie keeps us from the truth.
The truth is that we each hold the power of love in our hands. We can give it or restrict it. If the wrong suffered can extinguish our love, we have a love problem not a being wronged problem. The question is why did we react? Why did we make the wrong suffered too big to be overcome? Where is our love? Why did we lose it?
It is never too late for repentance. It is never too late to humble ourselves and make things right as far as we are able. Do not let the enemy tell you there has been too much damage for restoration. God is a God of restoration and He restored a fallen people to Himself. Jesus, who did no wrong, humbled himself unto death so that we might live. That resistance we feel is not coming from love, but from fear. Fear will bind us to death and destruction. Love will kill us in order to free us to life and liberty. The only way to save our life is to lay it down. Love never fails, if it seems to be failing, we are likely the ones failing to love.