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Sometimes we just need to be tough
- Jacob Ninan
Sometimes it happens that whatever we may do in order to get right with other people, they are unwilling to take any steps towards us. We apologise, but they don't accept it. We forgive, but they continue to trouble us. We return good for evil, but we get nothing but evil from them. We plead with them, but they only seem to get worse. We get other people to mediate, but that makes them more upset. Finally we grow so weary that we feel like giving up and retaliating with evil ourselves! What we need may be some toughness.
Don't we see that Satan is getting to us through some other people while we are watching out for his direct attacks? He is trying to wear us out by focussing on changing other people, which is rather difficult and almost impossible. By putting a lot of our energy in a direction where we are unlikely to succeed, we are only allowing ourselves to become worn out and finally give up!
We can try to be helpful, discuss, or do good in any other way, but if the other person is not willing to respond there is hardly anything we can do. We will spend our time and energy better if we put him out of our focus and concentrate on more useful activities. God says we are to pursue peace with others only as much as it lies within our powers (Ro.12:18) because He knows we can't control what others decide to do. But we don't recognise this limitation and get quite frustrated because we think we are unable to have peace with some others. On top of that we may also blame ourselves for what is really somebody else's fault.
When we wish to bless the others and have peace with them, we need to be 'tough' when we have to stand and watch them going wrong. We really can't do anything else, and it is good to recognise this quickly. We shouldn't let their evil ruin our peace. We know they are going to hurt themselves, but we are unable to help them because they don't want our help. It is not that we stop loving them. We keep ourselves ever ready to help if and when they want our help. In the meantime we keep praying that God would give them good sense. After that we need to stop feeling guilty or frustrated at our helplessness, and turn our attention to other things God wants us to do.
Think of how God watches people going in wrong directions. He longs to tell them how much He loves them and bless them with salvation. But He doesn't want to take away their freedom of choice, and so He bears His pain and sorrow as He 'helplessly' watches the ones He has created going away towards destruction. But He is perfectly at peace with Himself, because He knows He cannot do anything else for them and it is they who are making their choice.
Sometimes it is this tough love that will finally draw such people to us. They slowly recognise that we were 'for them' all along, and our goodness may lead them to repentance (Ro.2:4). On the other hand our 'running after them' may put them on the defensive and actually delay their repentance.