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Embraced and Given - Not Plug and Play

If you have ever had to install a new electronic device, like a modem, router, new laptop, or even a new cell phone, you know how totally frustrating this can be when you cannot figure something out that seems so simple in the diagram. I should not be amazed 'plug and play' smart technology becomes a little less smart in my hands on occasion, but I am always amazed at how easy it was once I figure it out! Each of us has struggled with stuff that should have been as easy as 'plug and play' in life, but it just wasn't. There is an "app" for everything these days, so why isn't there one for 'how to do this the simplest way'? The "little things" like being agreeable, being sympathetic, acting in a loving manner, exercising compassion, and living in a truly humble manner aren't ever going to come to us in 'app form' or in that 'plug and play' kind of moment! They are the "little things" that give us so much trouble, but are only learned the hard way in life!

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)

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 those "tough or awkward" conversation moments we feel really uncomfortable in? Or how about being able to take an infrared scan of our eyeball to somehow communicate some "blessing" in the life of another person? We'd all want these "apps" or "plug and play" kind of 'instant abilities', wouldn't we? Life is just not this easy for any of us! 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 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!

Be agreeable. Simply put, this is being gracious, even when graciousness is not the easiest choice in the moment. It is living in such a way so as to constantly produce harmony within the relationships we impact. Now, how many of us actually are at this point in life? I know full well I am not there yet! One thing I have seen as I get to know people is that we all need grace. Grace embraced is first of all grace displayed. In other words, the more we "need" grace in our lives, and the more we embrace it when extended, we find ourselves becoming 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! Not truly "plug and play", but rather "embraced and given".

Be sympathetic and compassionate. 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. 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 that people can walk all over, but it is learning to live in a manner that 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 smartphone, I'd be pointing it left and right, blessing all of you with the many things you desire - things like solid relationships, reliable jobs, consistent walks, and good health. 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 "plug and play" easiness in adapting to these characteristics in our lives, but we can learn to "apply" them to our lives. It takes some effort, including doing it wrong the first, second, and even third times! In the end the "embraced" becomes the "given" we can use over and over again! Just sayin!

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