Love Hopes All Things
We’ve all probably been in a situation where someone unexpectedly tells us about a person who has hurt them. It is unexpected because maybe we were not involved in the original situation, and we know the person in question and our dealings with that person have always been positive.
The person is venting to us, and this understandable. Hurt feelings are real. We’ve been there. Maybe we’ve even been the person who is venting about our hurt feelings.
But let’s think about being on the other side of that conversation.
What can we do? In the absence of witnesses to corroborate the story...nothing. We can’t just act on every accusation. This is neither Scriptural nor fair (Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Timothy 5:19). In some situations there may not be much that we can do, even with witnesses. Too much time may have passed, or the person in question may even be deceased. We may miss some opportunities to seek reconciliation, and the only thing that we will be able to do is repent and try to make sure that we do not let it happen again.
Also, consider the fact that the person that we are venting to may very well be quite fond of the person that we are venting about. Our venting may affect how they feel about us or change how they feel about the person that we are venting about. Meanwhile, there is nothing that can really be done about the situation because the person in question is deceased. Venting may help us work through some of our feelings, if we are dealing with someone who can help us to confront the fact that our emotions may be hindering us from loving others the way God wants us to love. However, our venting could also tempt others to join us in our bitterness, so be careful.
But is it really possible that we could have a good experience with a person and that someone else could have a bad experience with the same person? Yes. People change. Sometimes they change for the worse, but sometimes they change for the better, and after some time has passed they behave very differently. In fact, a previously discouraging person may become quite skilled at encouraging. This is why we must continue to cultivate the hope of love and never give up the hope of being reconciled with those who have wronged us. Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) Love believes that people can change, and love endures the pain and embarrassment of being wronged with the hope that all will eventually be made right.
However, if we hold on to our pain and resentment we will negate the power of love. It is hard, if not impossible, to desire reconciliation with a person while at the same time harboring bitterness toward them. When we harbor resentment we also disobey the command of God to love our neighbor as ourself - to give others the same leniency and prospect of redemption that God gave us and that we would want for ourselves. Finally, when we harbor resentment toward others, we do not help others to see God and His love. Do we suppose that our pain gives us the right to withhold mercy? God sent His Son to die for sinners, and God sends out those who have been redeemed to show His love to the world: “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12)