If you have ever had one of those days where being agreeable and loving just seem to be the most difficult response to muster, then you are not alone. Every now and then, these days seem to creep up and the testing of our patience almost overwhelms us - sometimes it even does! When we have these days back-to-back, there seems to be no helping us - for every response we have is less than kind! Learning to bless when we just don't feel like it is a difficult thing to do - especially when we are relying upon our own self effort to accomplish it! Truth is - we are all pretty disagreeable at times - some of us more than others. When I run into someone who just seems to be disagreeable every time I see them, I have to wonder what made them so "sour" on life. Maybe they just haven't recovered from some hurt in their past, or someone keeps opening up their "healing wounds" and now all they can do is "fester" in their misery. Regardless, the very best response to their miserableness is a blessing - a genuine, heartfelt, grace filled blessing straight from the heart of God.
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. (I Peter 3:8-9 MSG)
We can learn to bless, even when we don't exactly feel like it. We can learn to be gracious, even when our first reaction would be ask what makes the other guy think they are so much more entitled than us. We can learn to be courteous and respectful, even in the face of someone being less than understanding. How? I think our answer comes in understanding the difference between trying and doing. To try suggests we put for the effort - being a certain way suggests we rely upon the effort of another to help us respond as we should. The "other" is Christ - IN him we can be ALL things to ALL men - regardless of how they are responding!
In looking at our passage, the words are not passive - they are a command requiring action on our part. The word "be" is not passive. It simply means to "make it happen". It is not an option - God requires action on our part and this action is to align with how he would respond. Some time back, the little acronym "WWJD" became the fad. It stood for "What would Jesus do?" In short, whenever we were faced with a decision on how to act or respond in life, we were reminded to ask this short, but to the point question. If we stopped long enough to consider how Jesus would respond, we would hopefully adjust our response accordingly.
Seems kind of simplistic, right? Just asking this question cannot change behavior - behavior is changed in the moments "in between" the actions which demand our gracious and agreeable responses! It is when we don't need to respond that we develop the ability to respond with agreeable behavior, not when we are faced with the "full moon, head on disagreeable spirit" of another. This is why you will see me reminding each of us to draw near to Jesus as frequently as we possibly can - even if it is a 30-second escape into his presence! Nothing quite "fills our tank" for the issues we face like being in his presence and soaking up his grace. If we want to know what Jesus would do, we have to first get to know Jesus!
If you go back to our passage, it doesn't say "work at being" agreeable, sympathetic, loving and compassionate. It says "be". We develop this ability to "be" based on who it is we choose to "be" with! When we choose to "be" with Jesus enough, his character begins to "rub off" on us. If we choose to "be" with others who only see things as we see them, we rarely rise above the misery of our own perspective! Just sayin!