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Making Room: A Study of Biblical Hospitality: Day 5

Making Room for Your Betrayers

by

Today's Text: Exodus 23:4-5, Matthew 18:15-20, Luke 6:27-36, John 18:15-18, John 21:15-19, Colossians 3:12-13

Text: Exodus 23:4-5, Matthew 18:15-20, Luke 6:27-36, John 18:15-18, John 21:15-19, Colossians 3:12-13

This is a true story.

I invited my enemy to dinner on purpose. There was no applause or great relief or gratefulness on her part. After all, she didn’t know she was my enemy. She didn’t know the words she’d said about me had made their rounds clear back to my ears. She didn’t know how wounded I’d felt by her piercing remarks about my life, my home, my personality, and my portion.

She didn’t know God had set that table for me in the presence of my enemy, and so she enjoyed my wine and my bread, my Brussels sprouts with bacon and pork loin roasted to perfection, my chocolate brownies still gooey from the oven with a small dollop of ice cream. She ate it all up and still left my enemy. Months later more of her words made their way back to me and I planned another dinner, determined to win her affections, her heart, her repentance, or at least the absence of her criticism.

This is a true story, of sorts, but not entirely the way I’ve told it to you. The truer story is that I was the enemy and God was my ever present and gracious host. Again and again, He laid the feast before me, knowing the wounds of words like mine. And He invited me back again, and again, and again. This is the God who loves us.

I have often thought about the small verse that follows Peter’s first denial:

“Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself” (John 18:18).

I think, here was Peter, denying Christ and warming himself by a fire God created. But Peter was not just denying his relationship with Christ. In a way, he was also denying Christ’s Godness. He partook of the hospitality of God in the common grace of warmth on a cold night, and then left the fire as God’s enemy.

We are no different.

There are books aplenty with ideas for dinner parties and table settings, inspirational images and four-course meal plans, but there is no recipe for showing hospitality to those who have cursed you, except one: the imitation of God. With unimaginable hospitality, God creates a feast, and invites all the world—His creation—to partake of it. And He does so in the face of our repeated wrongs done against Him. He invites His enemy to the fire to warm himself. He spreads a table in the presence of His enemies (Psalm 23:5). He rescues the oxen of those who hate him (Exodus 23:4-5). He blesses those who curse Him (Luke 6:28). And on and on. His hospitality knows no bounds.

The story I began with is true of me and it’s true of you, too. We were enemies of God (Romans 5:10). But the story is also true in other ways. There are those who have gossiped about me, who have slandered and cursed and wronged me. Yet God invites me to imitate Him, to offer the hospitality of my other cheek (Matthew 5:39). The world says to stop offering grace, to withhold good until it’s deserved. But the gospel saves the best wine for last and sets a finer spread than every time before.
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Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a writer, thinker, and learner. She blogs at Sayable, tweets @lorewilbert, and posts photos @loreferguson. She has a husband named Nate, a puppy named Harper Nelle, and too many books to read in one lifetime.

  • Kensley Goodman

    Lord not only help us to forgive those who have wronged us but help us forget about the wrong, so it does not sway our actions or thoughts any longer. That we can offer hospitality with truly an open heart and soul, with you at the head of our table.

  • Aretha Hughes

    amen Esther

  • Christine

    I think having the attitude God asks us to saves us. It allows us to free ourselves from the burden of pride, resentment, and self righteousness. It is for us, more so than our enemy. But it is for them too. Showing profound grace, making their harsh words fall away into meaning nothing. It takes away the power of spite, rudeness or whatever else they are flinging your way.

  • Sometimes I’ve secretly prayed for the opportunity to meet my enemy on the street, to show her how great I’m doing and how, despite her many attempts to hurt me and damage my family and my career, IM FINE!!! This is pride. This is not God working in me, this is my attempt to manipulate His goodness reflected in my life to make someone else feel bad for how they treated me. (And guess what- she probably won’t even feel bad, so this will backfire!) This is not who I want to be!! Lord that I would wish to see my enemy for the sake of showing her the biggest change you’ve made in my life — that You have won my heart with Your love, and that I forgive her. That she has no hold on me. That I will run to her and embrace her, knowing she may hurt me again and knowing You are a God who heals our hurts from the inside out, so no weapon formed against our hearts can truly prosper. May this be my attitude, God, and forgive me from my vindictive spirit. May i, and we all, learn to turn the other cheek, as Christ so turned his cheek for us.

    • Laura McManus

      Your words are eoncrouaging and true. Thank you for sharing your heart!

  • When I saw the title of this study, I breathed in deep. Just recently I’ve been struggling with someone who constantly speaks ill of me to others. We recently got into some things and we were able to have a conversation and talk deeply. I don’t expect a lot of change but this has caused me to see how I hurt other people and how I’ve hurt the Lord. May I use this moments of pain to grow in my relationship with the Lord.

    • Hannah

      Hannah, I am reading Lysa Terkeurst’s book, Uninvited, and I think that you may find encouragement and wisdom that is applicable to your situation.

  • HeatherMarie

    Holy Father, thank you for your word, promises, and truth. Thank you that you will sustain your children with your strength and perfect love. Thank you that you forgive us for our doubts and fears, and even as they are echoing through our minds you lift us up. Father I pray for each of these ladies, for all of the heartache they are suffering through, and I thank you that they are seeking you in it. Lord I ask you to bless them, give them each a verse that they can hide deep in their hearts and that each time they repeat it they will know how wide and high and deep is your love. We know that your perfect love drives out fear. Please strengthen each of us, give us encouragement and fellowship, and light through the darkness. In Jesus name I ask this. Amen and praise you Lord Jesus for your faithfulness!

  • Stephanie

    I feel, and based on the comments, it seems like others do too, that this is so much easier said than done. I like to think that it’s easy for God- he loves us, and so coming back to us is easy even when we’ve hurt him. I’m sure it’s not easy, but I know I can’t even imagine preparing dinner over and over again for someone who had hurt me.

  • Heather Fringer

    My enemy was my ex-boss/entire place I worked for. I was treated awesome when I started, but over that year later it changed for no reason. They started making fun of me because I didn’t like to drink at the Christmas/work parties that alcohol was pushed on you at and they would constantly tell me “oh where’s your bible you little church girl?” They hated me for everything and everything, especially the day i handed in my resignation. Thankfully I was able to get out of there but it isn’t without fear/anger that I suffer from when I hear that companies name. It’s been two years since I left and they still have that little control over me. Sometimes it’s easier said then done “love your enemies.” But I am working on that!

  • Samantha Cordialini

    I knew that a study along these lines would be coming my way soon. I used to have a part-time job with a boss who was a Christian. Everyone loved her; she was personable, friendly, had great style and taste and would pray for those who came through her doors with the drop of a hat. But so often she would compliment me just to ridicule me after. She would insult me, my family and make me feel shameful. I never understood what I did to make her act this way toward me and eventually one day it hit me so hard I decided to quit right then and there. While I don’t regret that decision, I can’t stop thinking and letting those moments control me (this was over a year ago!) The place of this shop was a little town I loved to visit but now it’s a place I feel I can’t enter with fear of running into her and having to appear “fake” that what she said and did to me took no toll. I’ve often prayed that she would come apologizing to me, while at the same time harboring the thoughts of “if only everyone who loves her so much knew the way she treated me!” What good am I for not thinking kind thoughts? What good is fighting fire with fire? It’s hard when you’ve been hurt, but may God grant me the strength to show grace and mercy; to forgive even when there’s no apology and to love despite who I believe deserves it and who doesn’t.

  • I have no earthly idea how to deal with my betrayer. He has taken my children from me…betrayed me in the worst ways possible. He continues to control me through them and through legal processes. I want to forgive and let go, but the situation continues to show up over and over again. Where do I even start?! I suppose I can pray for him…well I know I can. The pain just goes on and on and on though and not only is he hurting me, he is hurting my girls.

    • AmyQ

      Praying for you!

    • Lacey

      The Lord always has the victory, and I thin, that’s why he te,[email protected] us to love and forgive our enemies. Not doing so only poisons us and does nothing going to change them. Its a long trust exercise with god. Praying for you and for your enemy… i understand how hard it is… i have a similar one.

    • Tina

      Heather, I am sorry for your troubles…praying for you, yours and your ‘enemy’ who was once someone you loved…pain and hurt make us do crazy things…we want to hurt back….not right, but it happens…your girls need you to be strong, to be you..they need you…
      I like that you say I suppose Ican pray for him…yes, pray for your ‘enemy’ , pray gentleness of heart, pray peace, pray grace, pray love over him…pray good things… for it is in praying these things over him that you will see the change in both of you….trust in the Lord. ? He will not fail you..
      Lifting you up now in prayer dear Heather, that God give you the wisdom and peace to do this and be a conqueror in the Mighty and powerful name of Jesus…Amen..
      Sending you hugs from across the mighty ocean…a pond to the Lord God…xx

    • Amy

      Praying <3

  • My “enemy” is currently my boss – even though a Christian, she is constantly mistreating and hurting me, and my response is to tell others in a very gossipy way. The shame she brings upon me often feels insurmountable, and I feel smaller and smaller and weaker and weaker every day that I’m with her. Unfortunately, God has not given me a way out yet, but I know He will in His time. This, however, does NOT give me the right to talk bad about her to anyone! There is a point of expressing frustration and hurt, but once it crosses the line if gossiping (which it often does), it is no longer acceptable. This study has been reminding me of that every day! No matter how hard it may be to break this habit, I can overcome through Christ; and I know that He will provide me a way out in due time! I’m thankful that even though I may not be able to change my boss, I can change my attitude and outlook on the situation, and I have the strength and power of Christ to get me through.

    • Lynn

      Very good! What an encouragement!!!

    • Debbie in AZ

      Hi F. I understand your situation. The Bible says that when you are offended to go and speak with the person. Sometimes, though this can feel impossible, this is the very answer needed. As a Christian she should be willing to have a discussion with you, and most likely she doesn’t even realizing what damage she is causing. I’m praying that the Lord gives you guidance on how to approach this and what to say that will totally turn this situation around for you.

    • Marie

      So GOOD. I am in the same situation. God has not shown me a way out but I have to remain gossip free and remember to always stay grateful. Thank you for writing this..

  • This devotional was perfect timing. I’m in the process of preparing for a major exam that is in 13 days and the so called, “love of my life” decides that it just isn’t working out and completely stopped talking to me within a day. I am utterly confused and hurt but in my lowest moment today I was reminded of God’s fire that ignites my heart daily. I will rely on that unconditional burning love to get me through the next 13 days.

    • Lynn

      I am so sorry. The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy but Christ comes so we will have life and have it abundantly! God bless you! I will be praying that your head will be clear for your exam. ❤️

    • Christine Marie

      I know you are hurting right now. I’m so sorry about your heartache. I do believe this is a perfect opportunity to make Jesus the love of your life. He is inviting us all to seek Him in this way :) Praying for you during this difficult time. God has you in His loving arms!

      • Gretchen

        Once upon a time almost the very same thing happened to me. I was about to finish university and the “love of my life” broke up with me with no warning and left me hurt and confused. God used it in my life in the most powerful way to teach me that my trust and hope needed to be solely in Him and not in any person. It is many years later now and I am happily married to a wonderful and Godly man. I pray God will fill you with hope and deepen your reliance on Him.

  • I read this devotional this morning with great peace and conviction, and much to think about.

    Funny how, sometimes, as the day progresses, you realize that the devotion was a word of preparation from the Lord for something that was yet to come that day.

    Struggling in a wholly different way than I was this morning (when I simply took in the vague general idea of the themes of these Scriptures and the text), and now have to revisit everything in a much more specific way.

    What if the one you have to forgive is the one your are closest to? The one you live with? The one with the power to dismantle and crush you most? How do you pick up the fragments of yourself when there is much to process, much to immediately still confront in the physical world as you deal with the situation, and much you still feel you have to “make right” – how do we glue ourselves back together, let alone extend grace and forgiveness to that person?

    The air feels sucked out of me as I contemplate what this devotion and the passages from the Word mean in light of this new outburst I must now confront in my life. I feel so hurt, and I suppose sometimes, we have to feel utterly in despair and reliant on the Lord’s comfort as we trust Him to make all things new and repair our circumstances, not seeking that validation from anyone else. It is only then, I imagine, in that really hard weak place, that we can even begin to find room to forgive someone who has so hurt us. How hard this is! I feel flailing, vulnerable, like I need help to survive each moment I am breathing. May I fix my eyes on You, Jesus, knowing you are aware of this situation and how weak and small I feel. Please Lord, help me and those suffering in similar ways to find room for forgiveness and grace as You heal us and direct us. May I remember that there is no “end all be all” worst moment, that there is always hope, always another chance, always new opportunity for us, no matter how many times we’ve repeated our mistakes – that there is sometimes even room for redemption in the present circumstance we feel we messed up. We are never finished, never “through”, no matter how bleak and messy our situation and no matter how we feel, because we are your children and You have given us a plan for our lives. Help me to repair as You would have me, Lord, and in my process and brokenness, still find room to forgive others. I can do nothing without you.

    • R

      Thank you for sharing your heart and the questions you asked. This is helpful as I navigate something similar.

      • J

        I am so sorry you are experiencing something similar, R. I obviously know how you feel and want you to know that I am praying for you – for your strength, for your healing, and for resolution in Christ Jesus, whatever you may be facing. Sending love, sister.

    • Christine Marie

      Beautiful :)

    • Olivia

      I fell behind in study and so am only now reading this comment..if I had been on track, our situations would have been exactly similar. Conflict began 5 nights ago. It has been ongoing. And it is tearing me apart. Thankful to read your comment today.

  • Melody Suarez

    I’ve been challenged with the pain of hearing people talk about me or gossip about me, and I honestly didn’t feel like being nice back but this commandment really challenges me to love my enemies with no bounds even when they do things that are hurtful.

  • Keri McCue

    To think we are given grace after grace but yet we refuse to give it is so humbling. We are so selfish! Today’s reading was so needed. I need to be reminded that I am sometimes the enemy that God tries to win over. But yet I point fingers and act like everyone else is the enemy! Thankful for SRT always bringing the truth!

    http://www.littlelightonahill.com

  • I was reading in Galatians today. Chapter 5:14 says, the entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But also if you read verse 15 it says, If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. I thought this was very powerful! I need to always remember in my life to not bite back or “devour” someone who has hurt me. I need to pray for them and God’s love will shine through!! Thank you Jesus! ❤️

    • Stacey

      I read this yesterday and am still coming back to it today. Though my husband is not my enemy, he IS my neighbor. And verse 15 is so true..if I do not stop “biting” back when he hurts me, we will destroy each other (our hearts, our marriage, our hopes, our family). Thank you for this timely scripture.

    • Kara

      Thank you. I needed to read these words as well for my marriage.

  • Oh to be reminded of where we are in comparison to where we’ve been. Many times it puts things in proper perspective. Living in this world often means combating the world’s selfish thoughts so that we can keep God’s Word at the center. This part reminded me of how the world tries to get us to act and react as it does, when truly we are called to live as Christ:” The world says to stop offering grace, to withhold good until it’s deserved. But the gospel saves the best wine for last and sets a finer spread than every time before.”

  • This couldn’t hit home any more for today as this is recently what happened to me and although not easy, I opened up my home to the very one who hurt me. Thank you for this powerful reminder today. How many times has God forgiven me and loved me? How many times has he blessed me when I have cursed him?

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • Kelly R Smith

    “There is no recipe for showing hospitality to those who have cursed you, except one: the imitation of God.” Yes! And with the measure we are shown grace, it is a privilege to give it to others.

  • Agreed, I needed this lesson, thanks SRT! And amen!

  • Loved today’s lesson and needed it.

  • This was the lesson I was most nervous about. I have an ex and his family who did me so much wrong, it’s been so hard to let go of that pain. To forgive the way God has forgiven me. My biggest struggle is this and I pray that God gives me the courage to finally let all that anger go. I don’t want to keep living feeling like this but it’s so hard. It’s been the biggest struggle i’ve had for a while. But I know God will help me and teach me His ways because it’ll only benefit me in the end and I’d be doing it for Him.

    • beth

      Katalina,
      I too went through the process where I wrote my own story as a victim. I learned through counseling to ask myself the question: what do I gain from holding on to this pain? By telling my victim story (to myself and others) of how I was wronged, what do I get from this — pity, sympathy, indignation, self-righteousness, validation, protection from future pain? What drives me to tell the story over and over? I came to the conclusion that my victim story served to give me protection. It helped me wall off my heart so that it could turn to stone. Once I gave up my innocent victim fictional persona and allowed myself to take responsibility for my part in flawed human relationship, only then could I open my heart to allow God to show me who I am in Him. He created me to serve Him, not to have a happy life. He showed me that I never put Him first, but rather 3rd or 4th. Once I allowed Him to grab my total attention, He showed me that I need to make different choices to put Him first, and when I do, I can look at my former enemies through His eyes, not mine. This has been a 20+ year journey for me to give God my broken heart and let Him heal it. He’s the God of the Universe. He can make a way where no way exists. His Word can break a rock (like my heart) in pieces. He’s the God of Broken Pieces. He can create a beautiful mosaic from what looks like sharp shards of heart-shrapnel. My hope for you is that you can ask God to show you what He wants you to see about yourself and your situation. He has a plan for you, and it may not look at all like the plan you envisioned for yourself. I love who I am now through God’s eyes. I’m a work in progress for the rest of my life. You will be too. Take heart (whole, unyielding heart)!

  • Enemy is such a strong word…. Like hate, it conjures up bad with a capital B…, awful, with a no way out, anger, with hope so far removed you can hardly see it.. injustice, wrapped around us so tight, its become our second skin….
    But God…
    But God…
    But God…

    In my true story, he walked beside me through the tears of betrayal, of loss, of rejection…
    When my daughter died, my husband found solace in another…she offered him what I couldn’t. I was in no place to even comfort the two living children I had, let alone a man who tried to make things right for us all…so he found his needs elsewhere…under the guise of going for walks, he would dissappear for hours…until one day he didnt come home til the small hours of the morning… he confessed then, and told us he was leaving to see if he could make it work with her…Wow…!
    Like any betrayed woman of sound mind,(lol) I started looking through his phone when he was in the shower, and found pictures, that she had sent him, and had continued to send him, of her in bed, in the bath, alluring pictures..on the days following the burial of my daughter…oh absolutely I was fumming, angry, I was completely raging, not because I had been betrayed, but this woman had no respect for those of us grieving..there and then she became my enemy…..
    But God…
    But God

    Oh but God….

    He let me have my moments of madness, my rants, my fall to my knees with the double grief of loss… and unworthiness, of broken now shattered…and He continued to love me…He continued to hold me up even when I felt life was over, what was the point…He hugged me in the nights, I struggled both with the loss of my daughter and the good man whose head had been turned by this woman…I was lost..confused…
    But God…
    But God…
    Slowly He worked through me …He showed me strength I never knew I had, He showed me through His word and people He put in place that He had me right there in his arms, and on His bench I was being moulded to be the woman He calls me to be and am in Him..
    I was angry, yet He showed me love..I was lost, He led me home, the injustice of it all, ready to consume me was replaced with hope…hope….hope..
    Today, my ‘enemy’ is not my friend..(yet), but you know what, we can be in the same room and I feel nothing towards her..she is Gods child as I am, and can I really cast the first stone…
    With God in the mix, alongside who can be against us…
    Recently, we were at a funeral and there was a seating plan, for all sorts of reasons. I was to be on the opposite end with my son, whilst his father and the lady sat the other…as God would have it, things didn’t go accordingly and we ended up sitting behind them…what happened…nothing..absolutely nothing…I was free. My orayer was that I would find a moment to talk to her, or maybe start with a smile…it will happen, in Gods time…
    For now, I am just making room for my ex husband’s new wife…

    I’ve gone on…oops. ..sorry.

    Blessings and love to you all.

    • Cynthia

      God bless you,Tina!

    • Jessica

      Oh Tina, how I wish we could meet face to face over some coffee (or tea!) and have a good long chat. Your testimony, and your willingness to share it, is such an encouragement to me. Please keep posting. Please keep “going on”. I’ve started to adopt your matra of “But God…” and it’s so applicable to so many things in my life. The world would have it one way (and of course it would be a selfish, broken, unfulfilling way), but God… the perfector of our faith, the author of salvation, the beginning and end, the source of love and light and truth- turns our lives upside down in the best possible way.
      Blessings to you, my sister in Christ. I look forward to giving you a hug in the age to come!

      • Tina

        Jessica, wouldnt that be amazing, to sit and share…looking forward to thst day…Thank you for your encouragement and love..,
        Every blessing and a happy weekend…xxx

    • Cindy

      No words….. But thankfulness of the work God has done and continues to do in your heart….. Thank you for you presence with us here, Tina….

    • Alexandria

      Tina, I love reading comments and I always see yours. And the things you say always give me perspective on what I’ve just read. Your story broke my heart and made me so angry for you….but God. This shows me that even in the worst of times He is greater always….I just hope one day you will have this chance as you’ve said to show her His grace! Much love and blessings to you dear sister.

    • Candy

      Dear Tina, you are such a blessing to us!! Thank you !

    • Elle

      Amen to what God has done and is continuing to do in you, Tina! God bless!

    • Kendra

      Thank you for reminding me of the, “But God”.

    • Jacqueline Mace

      Thank you so much for sharing that.

    • Jess Gardiner

      So many tears reading this Tina. Not only has God worked so powerfully in your life in such heartbreak, but your story will move and impact so many. It impacts me. Your faith, your humility, your love for God… blessings dear sister!

      • Tina

        Cindy, Alexandria, Candy, Elle, Kendra, Jacqueline, Jess…. sending you all huge hugs wrapped in love and gratitude for your kind words and love to me….But for God, there w ould be no testimony, no grace, no hope…..But God…Amen. xxxxxxx

    • Blessed

      Wow Tina! You are an inspiration! A warrior! I am in awe of your strength and your continued love and faith in God after what you’ve been through. When others would give up, you kept going. Wow! Amazing! I am blessed by you. Thank you for sharing.

      • Tina

        Blessed…thank you for your encouragement, but the thing is, this has been a work in progress… it has taken years and layer removing to get here to this testimony that is not finished, but ongoing…
        For sure my life is but in Gods hands…
        Bless you …,
        Tina..xxx

    • Rachel

      Tina thank you for sharing your situation and what “But God” looks like in your life. I needed to hear that. I have more hope, strength as a result of your testimony. Thank you. God bless you and I’m praying for you.

    • Samantha Cordialini

      I am so blessed by the comments you share and the Truth that is spoken through your words. You are such a gift, sweet sister. I am praying that God continues to reveal His goodness in your life and that each day he strengthens you to achieve these goals you have set for yourself. How sweet it is to see fruits being harvested. I am adapting your mantra “But God …” to my life daily. He is always greater, may we praise Him in all of our days. Love to you, friend.

  • Each time I am wronged and I decide to discuss it with a close family member (less frequently now), this family member simply tells me, “then stop being nice” or “then don’t show them you care because they don’t deserve it”. That’s something I can’t and won’t do, because then the person that wronged me will never know forgiveness. I am humbled by today’s reading and by realizing that sometimes I can be the enemy, but I don’t have to be.

  • this not only brought me to tears but was also perfection. That was a wonderful analogy to start with–definitely set the right tone to understand what God truly does with us and for us. How he invites us in time and time again–not because we’re in any way deserving but because he is gracious and merciful.

    Thank you.

  • I was floored by “give to everyone who begs from you” (Luke 6:30). In the past I’ve always wondered: but what will they do with the money? Why is this person in the situation they’re in? What if I’m being swindled? But I realize that this command is about my heart. Being generous and not their judge. Love like that will shine a light on this dark world.

    • Anna

      It doesn’t say “give money” though. Sometimes, giving money is appropriate. Sometimes, a sandwich or a piece of fruit. Sometimes, time, conversation, a friendly ear and a smile. Sometimes, a blanket or hat.

      • Eva

        And sometimes, a deeper relationship with someone who is “different.”

  • Teri Lynne Underwood

    This: “The world says to stop offering grace, to withhold good until it’s deserved. But the gospel saves the best wine for last and sets a finer spread than every time before.”

    I am so thankful for the lavish grace of God! May what He has poured out on me overflow into my relationships with others, even the hardest ones in my life.

  • Thank you Jesus for loving me so.
    Thank you Lore for presenting the truth in a new light, His light.

  • This hit very close to home this morning. During the holidays I was thrown under a bus and talked about by someone I care deeply for. It was gut wrenching. After I had time to process the betrayal, I knew the Lord was going to teach me about true forgiveness. I knew he was asking me to forgive like he forgives me. He repeatedly brings me back to His table after I wound him and I am humbled by the depth of love that displays. In the midst of my circumstances I am seeing how hard it would be to welcome her to my table and so I am humbled and thankful that the Lord is always ready to extend grace and forgiveness to me.

  • Churchmouse

    These verses are sand in my shoes. I’m just being honest here. I don’t like to reward bad behavior. I didn’t like to sweep things under the rug or pretend that it’s no big deal that you’ve talked behind my back or in some way done me wrong. And I want you to deal the same with me. I prefer to sit down over coffee and talk through any hurt or misunderstanding or deliberate offense. I say what I’m feeling. You say what you’re feeling. The goal is reconciliation or even just an uneasy peace. At least there’s no second guessing and no silent harboring of grievances. This is also how I approach God in prayer. Honestly. Directly. Listening. More often than not, I end up feeling closer to Him. Sometimes I still don’t understand and so there is an uneasy peace. If I ignore the sand in my shoes, I just end up with very sore feet. But if I take off my shoes, shake out the sand, then I’m good to go. Yes I’ll invite you to dinner but we have to talk. Because I care too much to let something be between us, even if you are unaware. Please feel free to do the same for me. Let’s refuse to put up with any sand.

    • Amber

      Thank you for adding what was missing. We must remember the whole counsel of God. There are times when we must “shake the dust from our feet”. Sometimes love and forgiveness must be from a distance because someone has shown that reconciliation is not presently possible. Sometimes biblical confrontation brings greater division.

    • Samantha Cordialini

      Yes! Amen. Thank you for sharing this. I am the same way in not wanting to let things just go on the way they are when there is clearly something going on. That’s when, at least for me, I see passive actions coming up; from me and sometimes the other person. I’d much rather sit down and talk things through, even if it’s hard and uncomfortable.

  • Might only be me, but I didn´t get her story. So who was gossiping – the guest or the writer? And why did she invite her enemy? To leave a good impression? That´s not what Jesus means when he tells us to love our enemy, right? Sorry, as much as I love SRT, but sometimes I find the introductory stories somewhat distracting …

    • Meg

      I think it’s the writer who is all the guest in a sense… She’s demonstrating how good is continually loving us and caring for us even when we neglect our relationship with him

    • Aubrey

      Marianne, the guest in this story ends up being the writer and the host is Jesus. Time and time again, because of our humannness we deny Christ or we say something that hurts Him or is not appropriate to say as a Christian, so we are the offender… but Jesus lovingly invites us in and back into His presence each time because He longs for us to put aside our selfish, betrayals of Him and bask in His presence moment by moment, day by day.

    • Victoria

      I think she was telling a story about how someone had wronged her, but she was still there for her and showed love to her. And then she was shifting gears to say that God “sets a table” for us everyday, yet we always go against him, but nonetheless, He will continue to give us His best every day and love us no matter what. I hope that helps…

    • Marianne

      @all: Thx for clarifying! I didn´t get the shift in thoughts – now I do. :)

  • learning to float

    So timely. Within 24 hours I had 2 people upset with me for apparently neglecting them. 2 times when I was criticised for their unreasonable expectation I would meet their needs. Then this study appears and shows me that instead of being upset, I’m to follow God’s example and continue to care, to love, to forgive. It’s the behaviour that in the world loses people friends, but we’re called to follow our Daddy’s example and continue to offer friendship.

  • Alice Carroll

    When I read the first part I wanted to hear the end of the story – hear about the woman confronted and humbled. I wanted revenge for the writer. A natural emotion, but it is the glory of God that He does not treat us like this – He’s not interested in comeuppance or revenge, but in drawing us back to Him.

    • Kathy

      I felt the same way. I wanted an ending of the wrong doer crying and begging forgiveness. It kind of made my heart hurt when I realized she was talking about herself and about me. God is so gracious and so merciful even when, and especially when, I am so undeserving.

      • Kelsie

        I felt the same way. When I read the first betrayal I thought, that must be hurting her. Then I read the second betrayal and thought, how dare this woman? When she said that was you and me, my heart broke.

    • Kristine L

      Agreed. I kept expecting to see the hidden motive… maybe she was going to spit in her guest’s soup, or make this big “I knew you were my enemy all along!” reveal. But God doesn’t continually invite us back just to throw our sin in our face. He just wants us back. Sometimes when I try to love my enemy, I get all self-righteous about it. “I’ll show them! I’m gonna turn my cheek! See how they like that! I’m so Christ-like!” But God calls us just to quietly keep loving.

      • Hilary

        Yikes. You make a good point about self-righteously loving our enemy that hits a little too close to home.

      • Ani_KS

        I felt the same way and was humbled by the twist. God is good and I pray I can remain humble as I walk through life.

  • Jesus please help me. Give me the grace. Remind me how I have always betrayed you before I seek validation for my hurt. Help me to imitate you only.

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