All of us, at one time or another, have allowed extraneous stresses to impact the way we treat other people. Because of stressful or frustrating circumstances, we will get mad with others over silly things that should never bother us.
I know this, because I do it all of the time. I allow a frustrating interaction at work to impact the way I treat my wife and kids. I allow a negative experience at the store to impact the way I treat my coworkers. I allow a jerk with a stiff middle finger on the interstate to impact the way I treat my friends.
Here’s the lesson I’m learning through these experiences: we should never allow ANYTHING to impact the way we treat other people. Instead, we should be loving—always—even when that person is acting less than friendly. I think that’s the message behind one of my favorite passages in the Bible:
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8)
In this passage, we were guilty. Unlike my examples—where I treat someone unfairly because of stresses outside of our relationship—in Romans 5 we were God’s enemies (v.10). Paul says in a different letter, we were “alienated from God because of OUR EVIL behavior.” (Colossians 1) God wasn’t just having a bad day, and decided to love us anyway–we were the cause of God’s bad day, and yet he loved us. As his enemies, we were literally working against his will and purposes. And yet, he loved us, valued us, and showed us compassion. He loved us so much that in the midst of our evil behavior Christ died for us. Talk about showing someone value. Talk about showing someone love in the midst of negative circumstances.
That’s how we are called to live as Christ followers. If we are to imitate God, that includes loving our friends and our enemies even in the midst of stressful circumstances.
Wow. I can’t think of another characteristic in which I am more dissimilar to the character of God.
So if you have a bad day this week, don’t take it out on your family, coworkers, or friends. Don’t take it out on your enemies. Don’t even take it out on the guy with the stiff middle finger on the interstate. Instead, love them. Value them. Treat them the way that God treated you.
And as a side note. I’ve found that when I intentionally treat other people with love in the midst of a bad day or frustrating circumstances, that I end up turning my bad day into a good day.
Why do you think it’s so easy to allow extraneous circumstances to affect the way we treat other people? Comment below and continue the discussion…