Sunday, March 2, 2008

Responding in Love

My apologies for not posting in so long! I started this post back in February, and then couldn't seem to get anywhere with it. But I finally sat down and said, "I'm going to finish this post TONIGHT!" So here it is. :-)

The Free Online Dictionary ( defines "Character" as
1. The combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person, group, or thing from another. See Synonyms at disposition.
2. A distinguishing feature or attribute, as of an individual, group, or category. See Synonyms at quality.
4. Moral or ethical strength.
5. A description of a person's attributes, traits, or abilities. (Emphasis added)

Your character defines who you are, how and why you react to different things, your reputation, your good and bad qualities, whether you are trustworthy or not, etc.

There are many aspects to a person's character, but right now let's focus on how we should respond to people who are rude, who disagree with us, who treat us badly, and who slander (0r talk bad about) us.

Ephesians 4:31-32 says "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

Now there are many, many verses that tell us "a soft answer turns away wrath" "Be slow to become angry" etc. But the one above is my favorite. (If you wish to read the rest of chapter 4, it's very good and can be found here. Just type in Ephesians 4.)

So now we know how we're supposed to respond, but easier said than done, right?
Here are a few ideas of how to keep from responding in an ungodly way.

1. Pray and read your Bible. If your mind is filled with Christ, your automatic response to conflict will slowly change to be more Biblical.

2. Take a moment to cool down before replying. You can keep yourself from doing something really stupid if you don't react immediately.

3. If the rudeness is in an e-mail, wait a few days to respond. Sometimes it helps to show it to your parents, who will probably have some good ideas of what to write back.

4. If you know that some subjects trigger anger or conflict in you or the person you are interacting with, avoid those subjects.

5. Love is not a feeling. It is a choice, and a way of life. If you are having a hard time with a person, pray about it and then treat them in a godly way whether you feel like it or not.

6. Be differentiated. This means that, although you love the person, you are not dependent on their opinion of you, or their emotional state. If they accuse you of something that is not true, don't allow yourself to be devastated. You can listen politely, and it's always good to apologize if you have done anything wrong, but don't allow things to 'get inside you'.

If you know that a certain person has a problem with you, talk to your parents about it. There is nothing wrong with staying away from someone you don't like as long as it is polite to do so, but you must treat them in a Christ-like manner. This means all the time, whether you are with them or not.
It is not wrong to talk to a parent or trusted friend about how someone has hurt you, but don't get into 'people bashing', or making something bigger than it is. Another important thing, if you are sharing it with a friend, is to make sure that your friend can handle it emotionally. If you start to get the sense that they are getting overwhelmed, stop talking about it, you can apologize for making them uncomfortable, and change the subject to something different. Don't forget to talk to your parents when you get home.
Parents and friends are not there to feed your dislike of someone, so do not talk to someone who will not give you godly counsel.

As usual, I'd love to hear what you think as well as any tips or hints. :-)


Hannah said...

You have some good tips,Joy!
It's always good to get your info. from the Bible! :)
Love ya! ~Hannah E.

Meghan said...

Great post, Joy!
Amen, especially to the part about talking to your parents! They are God-given advisors! :)
Good to have you posting again! :)