A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The other day, I received an email from a church attender that was accusatory (based on half-truths) and less than encouraging. My initial response was to defend and set the record straight in a straightforward manner. As I stared at the email I had written, I thought of Proverbs 15:1.
God's still small voice spoke, "Is this a gentle answer? Jeff, that person is angry. Will this email stir her up or calm her down?" I quickly deleted what I had written and began to respond by thinking about the hurt this person must be going through. It made all the difference in the world. My response was much more loving and gentle as I tried to put myself in her shoes and feel her hurt in my heart (a good definition of compassion).
Are there people in your life that don't seem to like you very much? Sometimes God orchestrates events to put rude, mean people smack in your path and mine to teach us about unconditional love. Perhaps that unkind person is your boss, or your employee, or your co-worker, or your customer, or your teacher, or your student, or your classmate, or your next-door neighbor, or someone in your own family. What does God want us to do with folks like this? LOVE THEM!! Love them with His love - "...and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Rom. 5:5).
You see, people who are mean, rude, ugly and hurtful are this way for one main reason: they themselves are hurting. When you respond to a hurting person with love and kindness (impossible to do in your own strength), it disarms them and turns away their wrath. And most importantly, it opens the door for the Lord to work in that person's life.
One of my favorite stories of God's love in action was told about the late Jack Hyles, Pastor of FBC Hammond, Indiana. He was in an airport restaurant wanting on his plane. The waitress was terribly rude to him as he ordered his breakfast. When he finished his $5.00 meal, he left her a $20.00 tip. She stopped him and said, "Do you mean to tell me that you would leave me a $20.00 tip when I was so mean and rude to you?" He said, "Ma'am, based on the way you were acting, I knew that there must be something really hurting your heart today." With that she began to cry and pour out a river of hurt to Pastor Hyles. He led her to Christ right there in the restaurant. WOW!!
Think of the opportunities that await you and me as we face difficult people day in and day out. See those tense situations from their point of view. Allow yourself to feel their hurt in your heart. It will make you more compassionate, more loving and a more effective witness for Christ.
Pastor Jeff Schreve,
From His Heart Ministries
Dr. Jeff Schreve believes that no matter how badly you may have messed up in life, God still loves you and has a wonderful plan just for you. From His Heart provides real truth, love and hope on over 700 radio stations each day, in 182 countries each week on TV, and is always available online. Pastor Jeff takes no income from this ministry. All donations go to furthering the broadcast outreach. As a listener/viewer supported ministry, we thank you for joining with us to help speak the truth in love to a lost and hurting world. Go to www.fromhisheart.org for more information.