“And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.” –Deuteronomy 10:19 (NIV)
The Israelites had gone through untold suffering in Egypt. As slaves under their Egyptian overlords, the Israelites were an oppressed people; discriminated against and forced to endure miserable conditions because of their Hebrew blood. For centuries they prayed for deliverance, and in His perfect timing God rescued them out of their enslavement in Egypt and into freedom. However, God warns them not to use the freedom He is given them to become oppressors themselves. The Israelites had been through a lot and it would have been natural for them to treat the foreigners in their midst with contempt as a way of exercising the power they were once denied. Yet God called them, and us to a higher standard; loving others regardless of who they are so that His love and righteousness may be displayed to the world.
When we have gone through suffering ourselves, we can go either two ways. We can choose to allow our suffering to taint our interactions with others and subject them to the tyranny we experienced, or to love others remembering what it was like when we were in their position. Too often we gravitate to the former because our sinful nature wants to restore our broken pride at all costs; even if that means shattering the pride and dignity of others. Instead of bringing healing however, this only serves to continue a destructive cycle of misery that no one truly benefits from. The only way we have any hope of breaking this cycle is when we have allowed ourselves to be transformed by the love of Christ. When we have allowed Him to enter our hearts, he will teach us how to love in the way which He did for us, sacrificially and unconditional. Rooting ourselves in Christ we will no longer feel bound to our past hurts for we have been restored by the work of His Spirit within us. Having found our confidence and security in Him, we will allow His love to overflow from our hearts, knowing that we live in a broken world in desperate need of the healing work of Christ.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.