Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.
When someone does something you never expected of them—something you perceive as hurtful, how do you react? Do you walk in love and forgiveness? Or do you carry hurt in your heart until it turns into bitterness?
What you may have perceived as an offense may not have been intentional. Many times people who act in an offensive manner, don’t do it intentionally. Sometimes they just unconsciously act in a way that gives a wrong impression. Most people who offend or hurt someone don’t even realize how their action is perceived.
Has anyone ever questioned your motive about something you said or did? It may have surprised you to find out what others thought about you. You may have meant something entirely different from what others perceived. When you learn that others have misunderstood you, don’t you wish they would just give you the benefit of the doubt? Don’t you wish they would not hurry to judge you for something you never intended?
“Whatever you want men to do to you,” Jesus said, “do also to them” (Matthew 7:12).
If you wish someone to treat you with consideration, you need to do the same with them. If someone does something offensive, do you rush to judge and condemn them for their action, or do you take the other person into consideration? Perhaps, you have misunderstood their intention. And if you haven’t misunderstood them, what do you do with their offense? Do you return it to them by reacting in hurt and bitterness?
Years ago as a young woman, I was deeply wounded by the action of someone who hurt me. A very wise person came to me and just told me to let it roll off my shoulder—that I didn’t want to carry that weight on my back. And when I let it go, my eyes were opened to the emotional pain the person who had offended me was experiencing. I saw how her action was in response to something she had perceived that was not true. Together we overcame issues. We each extended grace and reached beyond our misunderstanding to experience the freedom of forgiveness.
Just as you would appreciate others extending grace to you, you also need not to rush to judgment and extend grace to them.
Grace is extended in humility, and it is received in humility. When you humble yourself, you receive more grace. If you extend the same grace to others that you wish to receive in return, you will not suffer offense. There is a spiritual law that says you will reap what you sow. If you sow mercy in others, you will reap mercy from others when you need it in your life.
Before you allow yourself to get hurt and upset the next time someone offends you, remember that, in all likelihood, you have also been offensive at some time in your life. When you are tempted to be offended, you need to calm yourself. Remind yourself of the times you have offended someone unintentionally, and they forgave you. Freely forgive as you have been forgiven.
“Therefore receive one another just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God” (Romans 15:7).
If you study the word “receive” in this verse, it gives instruction on how to experience peace with others. “Receive” is derived from the Greek word “proslambano”, which is a combination of the Greek words, “pros” and “lambano”. The Greek word “pros” means “toward” as if you are moving closely toward something. The word “lambano” means to take or receive. These two words together mean to receive closely.
How did Jesus receive you? Didn’t He take you just as you were in all your offenses? Didn’t He draw you close despite your failures and imperfections? Jesus responded to the offensives against Him by giving His life for those who offended Him.
The word “proslambano” that is used in Romans 15:7 makes it clear that we are to closely receive each other with forgiveness just as Jesus closely received us. However, if we are going to do this, we have to intentionally forgive and overlook the things people do that offend us.
Don’t focus so strongly on the faults of others and, instead, focus on extending forgiveness and grace. Remember the times you have been misunderstood and shown mercy when you didn’t deserve it. If you sow mercy, you will receive mercy. If you choose mercy, you will experience far less emotional stress and have a lot more peace in your life.
Jesus said that you without sin cast the first stone. He forgave you for all your offenses. He forgave you for being offensive and harsh and judgmental at times in your life. Freely give to others what you have closely received from Him. Give others the same forgiveness and mercy you want them to give you.