Forgiveness is a willingness to move in the opposite spirit. It's easy to be nice to people who are nice to you, but how do you react to people who are mean and hurtful to you? Dr. Dennis Rainey says, "The way to become willing [to forgive] is to trade the insult-for-insult relationship for a blessing-for-insult relationship."*
Doug Easterday says, "If someone is being unkind, what is the opposite? Be kind to them. If someone is berating you and being negative and demeaning, what's the opposite? Being encouraging, building him or her up and loving him or her. I believe that as you walk in the opposite spirit, you can expect God to work on your behalf."
God responds the same to all people. Jesus said the Father "causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matthew 5:45). His actions are based on who He is, not on how people treat Him or respond to Him. We are called to follow His example. In the Bible, Jesus offers a foundational new view for everyone who believes in Him and chooses to live for Him.
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. . . . If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? . . . And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? . . . Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:43-44, 46-48).
Holy Spirit, I can only do this through Your strength and enabling. I want to walk in the light of Your perfection. Amen.
* Staying Close: Stopping the Natural Drift Toward Isolation in Marriage by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. (Thomas Nelson, 1989), p. 262.