I was rebellious. Just tell me what I could or couldn’t do and I’d immediately prove you wrong. Add stubbornness to the equation and it made for quite the strong-willed teenager. Getting away with my unruly ways year after year made me that much more difficult to deal with – if you dared try, that is.
It was bad enough while single. Most just avoided me. Not so easy once I got married. At least, not for the one married to me. My dear husband bore the brunt of my horrible behavior for years.
You would think the best thing to do to reach me was to share the most common scripture verses that clearly spoke about my sinful ways. Surely seeing the truth would break me, right? Yet, rather than sending others my way to do so, the Lord chose to get my attention a different way.
The Holy Spirit wooed me to the Father heart of God. God’s love gently disarmed me. The warmth and light of His countenance found their way through the holes in my heart.
God really cared about me. He loved me! He accepted me! He was patient, not harsh, with me. He was never judgmental or critical of me or my ways.
He just came up beside me and put His arm around me and walked with me, lovingly teaching me little things along the way. I trusted Him.
He genuinely cared about me!
Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? Romans 2:4 (NLT)
One day, many years after becoming a Christian myself, I saw this scripture for the first time and it dawned on me that I was going about it all wrong when trying to reach others for Christ. Not that there aren’t times when some of us need to be shown the blaring truth regarding our sinfulness to knock us right down on our butts from off our high horse of pride.
But God showed me this particular scripture verse in reference to my relationship with my own children, siblings, parents, and in-laws. They didn’t need me to share scripture verse after verse about sin, fire, brimstone, and hell. What better witness than for this broken, critical and judgmental vessel to pour out love, kindness, and mercy on them instead?
Easier said than done, because while the love of God saved me, I hadn’t quite learned how to treat others the way God had treated me. It would be a life-long, learning process which began by recognizing that just because I was a Christian now didn’t mean I was instantly Christ-like in all my ways. Not even close!
Over time, God replaced the callousness in my heart with His love. He opened my eyes to see the good in others. Rather than vain attempts to flatter to gain favor, God gave me the ministry of encouraging others in their times of need.
There’s no judgment or criticism in encouraging others. What I use to try doing in my own strength is now a natural flow from a healed heart free from bitterness and unforgiveness.
You know your family members very well. You see their blatant sin and have experienced firsthand their hurtful verbal attacks. Maybe you’ve become more impatient with them lately because nothing you say or do appears to make any difference in their lives.
Maybe it’s not a matter of saying or doing anything at all.
Perhaps it’s really all about being
Being quiet and not offering unsolicited advice. Being an intentional listener rather than trying to persuade or convince them of anything. Being engrossed in what they share without having to express whether or not you agree. Being the one who treats them with due honor and respect.
Be the one who genuinely cares about them!
PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for the times I’ve treated my own family members like they were my enemies. Help me to be a genuine reflection of who you are by lovingly caring for others. Amen.