When I Feel Justified To Be Mean

by Lysa TerKeurst February 16, 2023
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)

I looked at the text message in complete disbelief. Why couldn’t this person see how insensitive and hurtful she was being?

I don’t know who made up the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Either they had nerves of steel or they lived on a deserted island with no other people. Because not only do words hurt me but they make me want to fight back and be mean too.

Have you ever had a situation with someone where you just knew you were right and they were wrong? Or at least you could make a really good case for your side of things?

Oh, how I have this burning need to state my case in these kinds of situations. It’s like an inner attorney rises up, desperate to defend my rights and get the other person to see things my way. This is pretty normal, right?

Yes. But normal doesn’t always mean good. Especially in light of Colossians 2:6-7, which reminds me, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

I should live rooted in Jesus’ teaching and overflow with thankfulness. The opposite of this is when I’m rooted in self-centered opinions and overflowing with grumbling. I need to let God show me how to see things from this other person’s side and gain a different perspective. In doing so, I will be strengthened and taught.

Colossians 3:12-14 reminds me, “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (NIV).

My job isn’t to fix this person or make them see my side of things. Even when I feel justified to be mean, I have an opportunity to obey God by offering an extension of the forgiveness I’ve been given. But I can also stay healthy in this situation by remembering forgiveness doesn’t mean giving this person access in my life that sets me up for destructive patterns. Boundaries are biblical and should be considered when and where they may be necessary.

Finally, Colossians 3:17 reminds me, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (NIV).

Everything I do and say tells a story of whom I serve. If I act out of anger and spite, I give in to the ways of the enemy, spreading his darkness. If I honor the Lord with my actions, I serve to further the name of Jesus and spread His light.

At the end of the day, honoring God leads to good things. Anything else leads to confusion, emotional exhaustion, and ultimately a lack of good things.

I processed the text message mentioned above with a family member, who said something that brought much clarity. “You know, when you’ve taken the high road, God blesses you. You’ve seen these blessings over and over as you’ve made choices that honor God. So choose a blessing today and save yourself the emotional turmoil of trying to prove you’re right.”

I know this isn’t easy stuff. I’m having to live it in the midst of feeling hurt. But just because I feel hurt doesn’t mean I have to add to the chaos by returning the hurt. Responding to something mean with more meanness will only lead to conflict escalation, not resolution. While I can’t immediately fix the hard situation with my friend, I can have a healthier perspective. And when I am more at peace with a healthier perspective, I have a much greater chance of responding in a way that’s a truer reflection of my heart.

The best time to forgive is before we are ever offended. The next best time is right now.

Dear Lord, You know the hurtful words and actions that have come my way. Please give me Your strength not to retaliate but instead react based on Your Truth. Thank You for the gift of forgiveness that You have extended to me through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Please also help me discern where boundaries may be needed in my relationships. I love You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


In addition to forgiveness, Lysa TerKeurst has learned the secret to loving others well without losing the best of who she is — through setting healthy boundaries. She also understands how trying to navigate ongoing issues in your relationships by yourself can be daunting and honestly quite lonely. So that’s why she wants to unpack the truth inside her new book, Good Boundaries and Goodbyes, with you during The Good Boundaries and Goodbyes Book Tour next month! Lysa will be on the road during the month of March, so make plans to join her in the city closest to you! Purchase tickets here.



Find real-life encouragement when you connect with Lysa TerKeurst here on Instagram.


Matthew 5:44, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you …” (NIV)

How different might your heart feel today if you prayed for the person who has hurt you?  We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

© 2023 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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