Hurt People Hurt People
Read: Proverbs 17:9-19
If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? - Luke 6:32
I was babysitting two 5-year-old boys while their mothers went shopping. They were having a fun time playing together until one of the children threw a ball that accidentally struck the other on the nose.
The boy who was hurt scolded his friend and said, "You can never come over to my house again!" "Is it true," I asked, "that you never want your friend to come over again?" "No," the boy responded. "But when someone hurts me, I say mean things to them."
Then he asked, "Would you show me how to not say mean things to people when they hurt me?"
I went from awe at this 5-year-old's self-awareness and repentant heart to a painful realization that I'm not qualified to teach this lesson. For I'm often prone to respond the same way: When someone hurts me, I sometimes use words to hurt back.
Referring to Balaam's anger at a donkey (granted, it was an animal, not a person—but the same concept) as told in Numbers 22:27-29, the Life Application Study Bible study notes say, "Lashing out at others can be a sign that something is wrong with us. Don't allow your hurt pride to lead you to hurt others."
Proverbs 17:9 speaks to me of the importance of a healthy response to those who wrong us: "Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends." When we apply this truth, we're less likely to respond to painful words or actions in a careless and hurtful way.
Even more poignant, Solomon wrote, "If you repay good with evil, evil will never leave your house" (Proverbs 17:13).
I'm thankful for a 5-year-old boy who reminded me that by forgiving, rather than using harsh words as revenge, we glorify God and restore relationships.