Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
The other day I read an account of a woman who struggled with forgiveness. One day while volunteering at church she saw a woman sobbing in the back row. By the author's words the woman had “badly mistreated” her. Still she felt compelled to reach out. She did and found that her enemy had a good reason to be heartbroken. She found forgiveness in her heart and the two became friends. That's so nice. Doesn't it sound just like a thing God would do? Sure it does. I believe, however that God often does things a bit differently.
Through the last few years I've had opportunities to reach out to people who have been less than kind to me. I've been called upon by people who have treated me as less than but suddenly when they need help or prayer, find that I have value after all. I've reacted differently in each situation. At times, I have willingly responded to what I see as God's call on my life. Other times I've reluctantly responded and less often, thanks to God's grace, I've grudgingly responded. The results have been varied as well. I have had the experience where that connection opens the door to friendship but more often than not, the relationship doesn't change. The person to whom I've shown kindness, has received the kindness and seemed to appreciate it only to return to our original state of interaction once the issue is resolved.
At first I took that personally and so hard. How could that be? I obeyed my Abba. I reached out or responded to a person He set in my path, just to have her relegate me to the fringe of her life. As my faith and trust has matured I've come to see that my Abba always has His hand on my heart. The outcome to my responding to the call is not the important detail. What truly matters is doing God's will.
We can pray and hope that the kindness we extend is returned to us directly but when that is not the case, as often it is not, we need to know and believe that our Lord is never, ever outdone in generosity. Any kindness, favor, mercy or grace we extend to another will be poured into our own lives in ways that we could never ask or imagine.
Forgive as you are forgiven, not anticipating instant reconciliation or gratification. Give whenever you are offered the opportunity. Let grace flow in and out of your life because grace is always victorious.