"I always hated your guts," a woman laughingly told me after church one night. "It wasn't anything you did, I just couldn't stand who you are." She said this with a smile, and I was stunned. I hardly knew this women and had no idea that she hated me. To this day I've wondered why she felt compelled to tell me.
This reminded me of when I had a line of girls standing in front of me to ask for my forgiveness. The pastor had preached how we needed to forgive one another and encouraged the listeners to ask for forgiveness if they were offended with someone. This young lady asked me to forgive her because she was jealous of me.
There were several girls after her to tell me the same thing. Again, I had no idea that I was inciting jealousy. I never thought of myself as outstanding or beautiful. I was just trying to make it through college working 20 to 30 hours a week.
To this day I don't know why I inspire women to hate me. Women that hate me have actually helped me work hard at being free from offense. Since so many women have asked me for forgiveness, I've never felt the urgency to do that to someone else. If I have a problem with someone, I usually take care of it by praying.
If I feel the person is causing physical harm or that the offense is serious, then I try to talk to that person privately. I would rather have innocence and a pure heart towards someone than be a stumbling block for them. I've learned that God places a premium priority on how we relate to our brothers or sisters in the faith or people who we are close to. The first act of strife between Adam and Eve affects us today. And the first murder between two brothers because of envy, competition, pride and jealousy, opened the door to more darkness in mankind.
We see the long-term affects of hate in 1 John 2:9-11:
"Whoever says he is in the light but hates his brother is in darkness even until now. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in darkness, and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes."
When you hate the people that are close to you, you open yourself to darkness and confusion. Love removes any stumbling block in you. The benefits of loving your brother or sister are:
* You walk in the light. You have nothing to hide and you have a transparent life.
* You will not stumble or make a mistake or a blunder.
* You will know where you're going.
Hating your brother or sister is too costly. Forgive your brother or sister over and over again. Learn to love them unconditionally and you'll enjoy a life full of the light of God. And another takeaway here is to never feel compelled to go ask someone for forgiveness. I don't see one Scripture in the Bible that states you have to go ask for forgiveness.
I see Scriptures about confessing your sin to one another, but not a verse that you need to go tell someone that they offended you. Colossians 3:13 states, "Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive."
Did I have to forgive that woman who told me she hated me? No because I had nothing against her. I hold no grudge against that woman and I hope for the best for her. The girls that formed in the line in front of me became good friends that are still in my life today.
Leilani Haywood is the editor of Spirit Led Woman. An award-winning writer, Leilani is a frequent contributor to Charisma and has been published in Focus on The Family, The Kansas City Star, Metro Voice News and many other publications. Follow Leilani on Twitter @leilanihaywood.
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