I helped a friend get a new phone yesterday. It was time to upgrade and we wanted to explore the options. I am always amazed at just how smart technology becomes and just how reliant we all become on this "smart" technology! There is an "app" for everything! Except "little things" like ...being agreeable, being sympathetic, acting in a loving manner, exercising compassion, and living in a truly humble manner! Now, when they develop these "apps", I will be first in line to sign up for them!
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that's your job, to bless. You'll be a blessing and also get a blessing. (1 Peter 3:8-9 The Message)
Wouldn't it be nice to be able to push a button, work through a few simple steps and "poof"...we came across as agreeable in "tough" conversation moments? Or how about being able to take an infrared scan of our eyeball to somehow communicate some "blessing" for another person? We'd all want these "apps", wouldn't we? But...life is just not this easy! It takes work to be agreeable and commitment to be a blessing. It takes connection to be sympathetic, just as much as it does to be truly loving.
No matter how "smart" technology gets, I don't find human beings getting a whole lot "smarter" when it comes to living life as Peter described in our passage today! No amount of technology or self-help system gets us to the place of living as we should. We need divine help!
Let's look at a few of these, shall we?
- Be agreeable. Simply put...this is being gracious. It is living in such a way so as to constant produce harmony within the relationships we impact. Now, how many of us actually are at this point? I daresay, not many, me included! One thing I have seen as I get to know people....grace embraced is grace displayed. In other words, the more we "need" grace in our lives, and the more we embrace it when extended, we often become a little more willing to extend "grace" when it is needed. Start with embracing grace...then begin to extend it just as freely as you have received it. In the end, you will be practicing "harmonious" living!
- Be sympathetic. In the simplest terms, being sympathetic is really a sense of "identifying" with another's circumstances, feelings, or needs. It is an ability to be compassionate because you understand the old adage: "There, but for the grace of God, go I." We understand the same "bad thing" may have happened to us (or maybe has in the past). There is a connection made in not being judgmental of another's circumstances when you exercise sympathy.
- Be loving and compassionate. Compassion is really closely related to being sympathetic - there is a desire to alleviate the sorrow or meet the need of the one who is suffering. Connecting love with compassion is natural. When we are loving - we are thinking of someone other than ourselves. When we exercise compassion, we are looking for a way to bring someone out of their place of hurt. They go hand-in-hand.
- Be humble and don't retaliate. Now, why would I put these two together? Well, why do we retaliate? Isn't it because we feel like we have been "done wrong"? What is the opposite of feeling like someone should treat us differently? It is not being a doormat which people can walk all over, but it is learning to live in a manner which is courteously respectful of others. The opposite of retaliation is learning to return courteous respect, even when the other person may not "deserve" it (humble).
- Be a blessing. Well, if I could get a "bless" button for my phone, I'd be pointing it left and right, blessing all of you with the many things you desire like solid relationships, reliable jobs, consistent walks, etc. The one thing I can do in the absence of such an "app" is to learn to bestow good upon others. It is not as easy as it seems, but when I start at the top of this list and work my way down, being a blessing is an outflow of the other "life applications"!
Now, maybe we don't have "apps" for these, but we can learn to "apply" them to our lives. In the end they become "life applications" which we can use over and over again! Just sayin!