As long as we live among other human beings on this earth, people will do things which just give us more than a little trouble. It is part of living and dealing with other humans - we are not all going to see things exactly the same way all of the time, not matter how closely we resemble each other, so there will be conflict. Something I say or do will eventually cause you to get a little ruffled - it is part of us both being human. This "revelation" changed my perspective on how it is I deal with people in my life. You see, I can choose to focus on what they are doing which gives me concern, or I can choose to focus on the fact they are another human being Christ loved enough to die for, therefore I am being a little too self-centered if I only see the "issue" they are creating and not the person behind the issue. When we focus on the issue, we lose sight of the person.
Forget about the wrong things people do to you. Don’t try to get even. Love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:8 ERV)
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. (Matthew 5:43-44 ERV)
Words penned so many years ago, given in the time Moses was leading the people of Israel through the wilderness into the Promised Land of Canaan were again reiterated as Christ walked this earth. Why? They not only bear repeating, they bear "re-living". They are "solid" theology! We may not go into all out warfare with another who we don't see eye-to-eye with, but we do and say some pretty silly things at times. We respond to them in ways we wouldn't want them to respond to us, but we don't seem to realize how important our actions are. As I was considering these passages this morning, I recalled the other passage sometimes referred to as "The Golden Rule" - the one which reminds us to treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves.
So, in looking at these passages, a couple of things really struck me as good "relationship principles" which we can probably all learn from:
- People will treat us badly - we can count on it. Not everyone in this life will be as "in tune" with what they say or do as we think they should be. On occasion, they will blurt out dumb stuff and it will hurt us. At other times, they will not connect-the-dots and will blunder into things they could have taken a few "hints" from us about and avoided. It is just part of being human and unique individuals at the same time. We don't all see things exactly the same, nor do we respond to situations in the same manner. These differences will create friction on occasion and we need to be prepared ahead of time with how to deal with them when they do!
- Getting even is just not the wisest of responses to someone else treating us poorly or being insensitive to our needs or wants. It might very well be a "justifiable" response to some of the silly stuff people do on occasion, but it isn't the response God want or expects from his kids. In fact, he asks us to embrace them - not to push them further away. When God asks us to pray for our enemies and not be heck-bent on getting even, he is reminding us of the importance of embracing them with grace. Grace allows us to not focus on the issue, but see the person behind the issue.
- We are to neglect the taking up of the argument. This is what is meant by forgetting about the wrong things people do to us. Many an argument would have been avoided in my own life if I could have just neglected the intense desire to "take the bait". I daresay this is one of the challenges we all face - bait is bait and we are sometimes like "dumb animals" who wander into the trap kind of focused more on the bait than the signs it is a trap! Words have a way of "baiting us into" arguments. They are out there, kind of taunting us. We can either choose to latch onto them and begin the fight of our lives as we are being reeled in, or we can ignore the bait and avoid the hook!
We don't have much say over what another says or does, but we do have the control over what we do with what they say or do. The choice is ours - but I hope we will choose to live at peace with them, embracing them in grace until we love them so much they just don't say or do it anymore! Just sayin!