For the next few weeks we will be looking at the Connect theme that we focused on while we were at camp with some after camp messages. This week we looked at "Relating to Those Who Hurt Us". When we are hurt it is our natural human desire to retaliate, however we learn from the life of Jesus that this is not what our response should be. We see how Peter hurts Jesus in Luke 22:54-61 as he denies Jesus three times. At this moment is says that Jesus looks at Peter. It is not that He looks at him with anger, but because He is hurt. Of course we do not see Jesus retaliate. We know that Jesus' forgives Peter and makes it known to Peter himself in John 21:15-17. It is apparent that Jesus has forgiven Peter by the fact that He commands Peter to do His work. Someone would not give another person such an important job to do if they had not forgiven them.
This forgiveness is exactly what Jesus had taught His disciples in the past in Matthew 5:38-41. In Jewish society a slap was not considered violent like we would consider it, but was instead the highest insult one could give someone. Also in Jewish society of a person was sued, they were never expected to give up their outer cloak because it might be their only way of keeping warm. Then under Roman law a soldier had the right to force a person to carry a message for them at least one mile. Jesus is not telling them to let people take advantage of them and to hurt them without defending themselves. Instead He is teaching the importance of not retaliating when we are hurt. Retaliation and revenge is not motivated by justice, but is motivated by anger. Jesus expects His followers to act toward others as He has acted toward us, by grace and forgiveness. We must consider Jesus' forgiveness and grace toward our own sin and forgive those who have hurt us. If you are struggling in this area, ask God to give you His heart of love and mercy for those who have hurt you. Ask Him to give you the strength to forgive.