Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Living the Truth - Part 5
(Be sure to see the previous posts to get the context of this article.)
How do these principles apply in interpersonal relationships? What are some truths to be found in this arena of life? 1) He who would have friends must show himself friendly. (Proverbs 18:24); 2) Treat others the way you want to be treated; (Luke 6:31) 3) Prefer others over yourself (Romans 12:10); 3) Be kind one to another (Ephesians 4:32); 4) A soft answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1); 5) You can't get inside another person to change them. There are many more.
So what are we to do with these truths and others like them? We need to accept them and embrace them and then live our lives and make decisions accordingly even if our feelings scream out at us.
What should you do about a person, let's say someone in your family or someone you have to work with, who irritates you. How are you supposed to respond so that you don't get frustrated and upset yourself. First you need to accept and act on the truth that you can't get inside and change them. So stop trying. When you speak to them, speak in a calm voice and an even tone even if everything inside you is telling you to be sarcastic or to respond with a certain tone that will let them know how much you are frustrated. Treat them with respect. Do kind things for them. Treat them the way you would want to be treated. Show them genuine love and care.
Where are you supposed to get this kind of love? Since I'm directing this lesson toward those who claim to be Christians, your source of this kind of love is the same love which you found from Jesus Christ. He loved you when you were rebelling against him and were about as obnoxious as could be in the sight of God. And yet, he extended his grace toward you in incredible ways. Do the same to them.
“But,” you may say, “If I do this, it will seem like I don't care that they are miserable people to be around.” So? Why do they have to know you think they are miserable to be around? Do you think a bad attitude toward them is going to change them? Does it actually make you feel better?
What if the person is my spouse and I really want them to change so that our marriage can be what it should be? All of the same truths apply. You can't get inside them to change them and you need to act toward them according to the truth that you are their spouse. So you need to act in love and encouragement and not with put downs and negative speech. Treat them the way you want to be treated. But what if they don't start treating me back the way they should? It might be difficult to accept, but you can't change that. You can only change yourself – and then only barely it seems.
Begin to live according to the truth and you will find your own attitude much more calm, patient and much less frustrated. The Bible promises that a spouse may change due to the attitude of the other. (I Peter 1:1-2.)
The Bible asks the question about where quarrels and fights come from. The answer is that we want something and don't get it, James 4:1. What do you want from your spouse that you're not getting? Why do you think you deserve it? How are you going to force him or her to give it to you? I'm guessing your spouse wants something from you. Give your spouse the very best. Give them love and acceptance. Give them time and attention. If you are the husband, love your wife like Christ loves the church, pouring your life into hers, encouraging her and building her up in the faith. Expect nothing in return. If you are the wife, give your husband love and respect. Respect him as the person whom God has made the head of your home and submit to his leadership. Expect nothing in return.
...to be continued...