I’m one of those people who rehearse all the clever negative things I’m going to say the next time I see “that person” while driving down the road. “That person” is the co-worker, friend or family member who has angered you, the person you want to strike back at. Do you find there are days that seem as if everyone around you is an idiot? I know I do, and when I rehearse those zingers on my way into work I not only win every argument, but leave my foe in a huddled mess. I envision myself as a word warrior, emotionally rag-dolling my opponent like The Hulk did to Loki in the new Avengers movie. I win every argument… in my head.
That’s the problem. My victory is in my head and the reason it’s so sweet is because I’ve transformed the person in my mind from a human being into an inter-dimensional villain working on behalf of Satan himself. That’s probably not an accurate portrayal of the person, but it gives me the justification I need to plan my attack. Now, before you start to think I’m a terrible person, I never (okay, almost never) unleash that kind of fury in real life, but I also don’t always forgive as readily as I should either.
The problem is that I’ve forgotten that the person who hurt me was operating with their own human emotions, and when I discount that I lose my ability to react with the forgiveness, compassion and mercy God wants me to respond with. In those moments when I’ve been hurt or attacked I become blinded by my own emotions and forget there may be a very good explanation behind what that person said or did. Perhaps they’re operating from a place of hurt themselves, perhaps they’re struggling and putting up a defense. Whatever their motive, attacking will always make the situation worse. Always. Don’t fall into the enemy’s trap when he whispers, “They deserve to hurt the way they hurt you.” Maybe they do, but as with all Satan’s lies, it’s based on a half truth. Maybe their behavior was wrong, but they’re accountable to God not to you. Who am I to say, “No worries about that justice thing, God. I’ll take care of this one.” When I consider how often God shows me mercy for being an idiot, I can’t build much of a soapbox to point out other people’s idiocy from.
By the grace of God and some wise counsel, here’s what I learned last week: if I stave off my attack, I’ll often learn what was truly behind the hurt someone caused me. I can’t imagine the damage that would have been done if I had attacked instead of waiting three days to listen. It doesn’t seem like as much fun, but if you really want to fight, consider listening as a weapon against our true foe. He hates that.
Wisdom is enshrined in an understanding heart;
wisdom is not found among fools. (Proverbs 14:33, NLT)
DON’T THINK: “Everyone’s an idiot. I will destroy them.”
THINK: “God shows me mercy when I’m an idiot, I think I’ll back off.”
Prayer: Father God, I get so annoyed by the people around me sometimes. I confess that my attitude is wrong, and I want to see the big picture. Help me to see the person who hurt me through your eyes and allow my reaction to be a witness to your grace for the Kingdom. Amen.
Engage: What are the things that really get under your collar? How do you react?
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© Joshua J. Masters and Think This, Not That, 2012.
Photo Credit: Andrew Mccluskey