Has Your Heart Been Hurt by Someone You Trusted?
You’ve been hurt. It’s a bold statement but I can say it with 100% certainty because everyone has. You live in a sin-filled world where people hurt others, whether intentionally or unintentionally, all the time. It’s hard when this happens. Your trust of that person diminishes. If you break communication with him or her, that’s the last memory you’ll hold of that relationship, which shapes your understanding and image of him/her.
The consequences of sin and the acknowledgement of human fallibility hurt. It feels especially heavy when it is someone in a position of leadership. Your understanding of the person shifts. Questions consume your mind of what happened to get him/her to this place? Why would he do such a thing? How could he have let that happen? Why didn’t anyone speak up earlier?
Fear and judgement well up. “I thought that person was better than she clearly is. How could I have trusted her? I would never do something like that. I can’t be seen with her. I must no longer associate with such a sinner.”
There was a situation in the early church of Corinth. A man had committed a sin of which he was unrepentant. Because of the context, church discipline was required to deal with the situation. He was sent away from the church for a time. This was a very difficult moment for this church, as Paul firmly handled it. Moments like this, especially of public discipline can leave wounds in many; not just those closely involved.
“If anyone has caused pain, he has caused pain not so much to me but to some degree—not to exaggerate—to all of you. “This punishment by the majority is sufficient for that person. As a result, you should instead forgive and comfort him. Otherwise, he may be overwhelmed by excessive grief. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. I wrote for this purpose: to test your character to see if you are obedient in everything. Anyone you forgive, I do too. For what I have forgiven—if I have forgiven anything—it is for your benefit in the presence of Christ, so that we may not be taken advantage of by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:5-11
Think about a situation you’ve had in the past where someone wronged you. How did you handle it? Have you forgiven him or her? Do you still talk with that person?
Boundaries are healthy. It’s good to keep distance from someone who repeatedly violates your trust and/or abuses you. But I bet there is someone that comes to mind who hurt you, whether closely or in association, that you perhaps no longer talk to because of that one moment?
Or, not to push too hard on this, but do you no longer attend a church in general because a former church hurt you in some way, so you’ve written off every other church under the same umbrella of judgement?
Paul again addressed the discipline of the church in Corinth in a later letter that informed the church that the discipline of the man who had sinned was sufficient. There was a time of discipline, and then there needed to be a time of grace, forgiveness, comfort, and love. He was welcomed to return to his church family, “Otherwise he may be overwhelmed with excessive grief” (2 Corinthians 2:7).
James addresses a Christian brother or sister’s sin issue this way,
“My brothers and sisters, if any among you strays from the truth, and someone turns him back, let that person know that whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:19-20
Addressing sin in someone else’s life is difficult, especially when your heart is right with the Lord and your own sin is before you. This is to keep you humble and free of wrong judgement. But, by being courageous and sharing the truth in love, you help to, “save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” That’s powerful. Though you might be hurt by the person, it is good to communicate the situation in order to bring resolution and peace. If it is not possible, and others have then tried to mediate the situation with no avail, then you must disassociate with that person for a time. After a while, by the prayerful work of forgiveness, you must return to the person and extend grace and comfort.
The danger with abandoning someone after their exposed sinful moment is that last memory you have of them from that difficult time. Because of that, you might be missing out on witnessing the redemptive gift of God’s grace.
You see, no one is outside of the gift of God’s salvation, both for eternity, and also for our daily need. All who choose Jesus are included in His redemptive work. The same Spirit who is alive in you, is also in that person.
Therefore, you must believe and pray that God’s grace is still working and transforming him or her into the likeness of Christ. He is meeting them where they are at and working on their hearts as much as He is yours.
You see, though people have hurt you in the past, you’ve wounded others too, because we’re all sinners; and if Christians, all sinners saved by the same grace. If you get stuck with that hurtful memory from someone’s past, what are others carrying around about you?
It makes me think of all the publicly disciplined pastors who have done horrible things. It grieves our hearts and affects all of us to some degree, because of the tainted image of Christ it shares with the world. Do you wonder where they are today? Can you imagine the weight of shame they carry around with them everywhere they go? Though they fell from the positions they once held, have they repented? Are they receiving forgiveness and comfort?
Christ calls us to be one unified body under Him as the head of the church, so that we might represent Him as a whole to this lost and hurting world. If we don’t resolve our own hurts within the church as Christ calls us, how will the world understand how to do it? How will they see the hope of Christ when we’re being the same example as them?
Dream with me for a moment of the church living in the way Christ calls us to in the Bible. What would that look like? How would the church operate? How would Christian families live? Do you think the Gospel would be shared more? And if so, how do you think it would affect the world?
Is there someone God is bringing to mind as you read this that you need to prayerfully contact?
- Perhaps there is someone you are struggling with right now. Remember, this is only for a time. Pray that the Lord convicts and restores both of your hearts into right relationship with Him and with each other. Just because the relationship is wounded right now, doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way forever.
- It might be to offer forgiveness and comfort. Welcome that sinner back home. The church is the representation of God’s family’s home. It is a physical gathering to remind us we are one family under Him. So, each person who calls Jesus, Lord and Saviour, is part of your family. Love them like they are.
- It might just be to reconnect after months or years and hear the testimony of God’s redemptive work in him/her. Then in turn, you’ll be able to share yours as well, and God will receive His rightful glory as you two celebrate the amazing, gracious Lord you both serve.