I was thinking this morning about a question we need to ask ourselves from time to time. Are we the same person to our families, and those close to us, as we are to people we work with, or go to church with, or our neighbors or friends? Do we respond the same way to all?
Let’s face it. Most of us have times when we may be grumpy. And we all get angry sometimes or perhaps even snippy or sarcastic. Or, maybe its just me. Not good ways to react. But, in this case I’m not talking about the occasional grumpiness or bad mood. I’m talking about the way we treat others on a day to day basis.
Are we the kind of person that shows one side of us to people we interact with outside our home, and then when we come home we show the side where people are afraid to even talk to us? Do we treat our bosses and fellow employees with respect, crack jokes and show concern for people, then come home and act surly and growl at others who don’t jump to meet our every need?
I would hope that most of us are not like that. In fact, shouldn’t we be kinder and more loving to those we are close to? After all, they are the ones that generally put up with us, and our sometimes bad moods, and hopefully, love us in spite of our faults. It should matter more to us what they think of us, than what those at work or school or church think of us.
Here’s another question. Do those we love know that we love them, and that they are important to us? Do we make it a priority to tell them or to show them? If something were to happen, could you be at peace knowing that all was well between you? So often you hear of family members and friends who get into fights and arguments and don’t talk for years and decades. In some cases they never resolve their issues before one of them dies. How tragic is that?
I have been in the place of having a family member die unexpectedly. In my case we had had some months of a somewhat strained relationship. I’m so very grateful to the Lord that we were able to work that out before she died. Loss is hard enough on its own. We don’t need guilt on top of it because we didn’t take the time to show our love or to resolve our differences.
How many agree with me that whether its the way we treat others, or the way that they treat us, relationships can be one of the most challenging things in our Christian walk. If we are doing it right, and walking in love as we are called to do, that is.
My Pastor was teaching on love this morning. He made the comment that walking in love is the best way to have relationships. For himself he uses 1 Corinthians 13:5 as a guide to how he is doing in his love walk. “ It (love) is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].
That can be very challenging sometimes right? Such as times when we are treated unfairly at work, or our family does not act the way that we think they should or we have that neighbors dog that barks and barks for hours on end. Do we respond in love? Or do we get angry, touchy or resentful? Hmm. I would love to say I have mastered this one, but I have a ways to go yet.
To quote my pastor once more, he said “we can either respond in the flesh or from our spirit. Your spirit rules you only when you choose love.”
The good news is, if we have failed at this in the past, we can repent, move on and start fresh. All we need to do is remember to choose love.
Oh, one last thing. If you are one of those people who has been holding a grudge against someone and you have a broken relationship, do yourself a favor. Let this be the year that you take advice from Ephesians 4:32 “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” I promise, no matter how it turns out, you will be so glad you did.