Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Respond in Love

For years, I put up with a person speaking gruffly to me when they would call our home asking for Clint. They'd bark "Wendy, this is XXXXXXX!!!!! Let me speak to Clint!!!" It hurt me each time. I had never had a harsh word towards them. I had never even had a real conversation with this person in the years we had known each other because they never took the time to get to know me. They never gave me a chance. They were mistreating me because of something someone had told them I had said or done. I know for a fact that person had lied about some of the things they were telling others. I was always polite and took the phone to Clint. I took my hurt and anger to the Lord and my husband. Clint wanted to say something about it, but I asked him to let it go. I was afraid it would make the situation worse which would have hurt Clint far more than it hurt me.

One day, I got tired of it. I asked Clint to pray for me because I was to a point where I was not going to allow this person to keep talking to me like that. We prayed about it and came up with a response for the next time they called. I planned to say "I am sorry, but you can not speak to Clint until you learn how to ask politely. You are welcome to call and try again, but how far you get will depend on how you speak to me. Goodbye." At that point, I was going to hang up the phone. An interesting thing happened. They called and bit my head off again, but the phone call was interrupted before it got any further. They had to call back. When they called back, they apologized to me for how they had spoken to me. The Lord had convicted and changed them! Now, they only changed in that area, but God had answered my prayer. That was enough to encourage me to keep looking to Him when dealing with difficult people.

I share this to encourage you. We have had so many people contact us after we addressed the person who wished harm to us when they found out we were blessed with another pregnancy. They've shared some painful stories about broken relationships. Respond to people with God's love even when they do not deserve it. Do what is right even when it is hard to do. He can change them. Some people won't change permanently and others will only change a little. It's about how much they let God in and let their issues go. I know well the battle with pride and anger to defend yourself. Instead of listing their sins, start listing yours against God. It will humble you and allow love and compassion into your heart.

If He doesn't change them, He may change something else. For two months after another long, painful struggle, I cried out "Lord, change them so they stop hurting me, or change me so it doesn't hurt me like this, or get them out of my life because I can't take living like this any more!!!" He used my refusal of their help to open a window to bring them to such anger that they threw a fit my children still remember to this day, cut me out of the family and walked out of my life. He answered that prayer in a way that I have complete peace about how things ended.

I also want to tell you that I am not perfect in this. Sometimes people are rude to me, and I respond in kind or worse. I am a very fallible human. When I catch myself, I make myself apologize. The self discipline it takes to admit a wrong keeps us humble, heals relationships and grows us in character. Being a Christian is a struggle because God tells us to do things that do not come to us naturally. Do what's right, and God will bless you.

A dear friend shared this with me in an e-mail. He copied it from someone else...

"We often see faults in others without recognizing them in ourselves. Confess your own mistakes, then extend mercy just as you have received God's mercy. Surrender your pride, and apologize when you hurt someone. It shows obedience, courage, humility, love, and strength. God calls and enables us to become living, breathing, authentic imitators of Him. What a glourious responsibility and privilege. We are a "little Christ" to a watching world."

I Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Romans 12:15-21 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.