“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
makes it seem so simple, doesn’t it? As we all know, human relationships are often anything but simple. Sometimes, our gentle answers do nothing to assuage the anger that is being directed towards us. What then?
I think of Romans 12 to answer this question. Verses 9-10 say,
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
That sure sounds like we are to treat others like they are precious and valued by God (they are), and to show honor to all, regardless of how they treat us.
I love how the wording talks about “outdoing one another in showing honor”. One definition of honor is described as “an adherence to what is right or to a conventional standard of conduct”. We are to behave in the right way to everyone – and God is our standard for what is the right way.
Think about how Jesus interacted with people. He was so very kind to those who were hurting, but was firm and straightforward with the religious leaders (Matthew 23). He was very honest with his disciples when they needed correction (Matthew 16:21-23; Mark 4:35-40), but he also cared for them deeply, and that is evident throughout the Gospels.
He was (and is) ultimately sacrificial and utterly loving in his interactions with others, even when they hated him completely. He said what they needed to hear, not what was going to make them happy, or what was going to give himself smug satisfaction.
These things give me pause, and make me evaluate if I am really treating people the way I should be. Are my interactions with others reflecting Christ totally? Or am I inserting my own agenda into my conversations in order to benefit myself?
I encourage you to take inventory of your own relationships in this way. We will never be perfect, but are we striving to improve our behavior every day?
I am going to set aside some time to pray for the Lord’s intervention in my relationships – specifically, for my own behavior, since that’s all I can control. I encourage you to do the same! We are all in this together, as family, in Christ. I am praying that the Lord brings things up in our lives that he can correct and change in order to make our treatment of people look more like Christ’s.
Love you all!