I think this is another one of those recurring themes in my life lately. I’ve had a number of people walk into my life who just seem to not want to get along. As you may already know, I’m part of that idealist group of people who believe in looking for the best in others and just plain getting along (meaning not dismissing someone because they’re a little different or “annoying” to you).
My gut reaction these days is to just leave them alone, knowing that they won’t pay attention to me anyway, but fortunately, the Spirit’s reaction in me is sadness. It’s not a condescending pity or a “too bad so sad” cavalier attitude, but rather a simple desire that they wouldn’t have to continue life in that way when there is a better option.
The problem is, I can’t always be sure what God wants me to do with that. The obvious solution is prayer, but I’ve found that in conjunction with prayer, I have to keep studying what God would have me to do, and keeping an eye on my heart.
“Keeping an eye on your heart? Is that even possible?”
I’d say yes. Do I pursue those who are unkind to me in order to make sure they know that someone cares about them, or do I write them off as losers and go about my day? When examining my own heart, I look at a few different things:
- Am I receptive to hearing about my own flaws right now? (generally, if I am, it means my heart is more open to others because I recognize I’m on equal ground with them). Psalm 139:23-24
- What is my reaction to thinking about spending time in the word? Believe it or not, I can tell when my heart can use some work, because I’m avoiding listening to what God might have for me. Psalm 119: 9-16
- What have my comments to others been like lately? Seasoned with grace? Short-tempered? What you say shows your heart. Luke 6:45
The point I’m trying to make is that in order to love others, our hearts must be aligned with Christ, because he shows us what love is (1 John 3). When we view others, we must take care to see them first as people who need Christ- just like us. Chances are, that subversive behavior is a symptom to a deeper issue. Instead of just seeing the outside of a person and reacting to whatever they say, we should try and think deeper about why they are acting that way, and have the compassion of Christ to meet them wherever they are (AKA listening and asking thoughtful questions). You know, some of the most godly and loving women I know are also the best at asking questions and anticipating others’ needs (also shown in thoughtful acts of service, notes of encouragement, gifts).
And just so you know, I say all this to myself as much as saying it to any of you. Remember that people are people, no matter how monstrous their actions. There is no limit or cap for the amount of love God has available for all.