Keep your cool.
29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers (Ephesians 4).
It matters how we approach others; in our tone of voice, eye contact and facial expressions, as we interact with them. People want to feel comfortable, safe and respected, while engaging with others. Those we encounter may be carrying emotional, mental or physical burdens, so they may not respond to us kindly. It’s not easy getting past an offence or rude remark. A kind gesture often lowers the temperature. As difficult as it is, we have to strive to do what is right and pleasing before God. If we live by The Spirit and not by our fleshly desires, we submit to God’s Will for us, especially when we don’t feel like it.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men (Romans 12).
We can reject wishing others evil, as a first step to being gentle. Even the worst person is still a human in need of grace and love. Let God avenge us for wrongs others do against us, by not trying to get even. Attend to the needs of others, undeterred by their off-putting attributes. We can help their situation; but we can’t change who they are. If they rejoice, we can rejoice with them, or grieve with them in their time of need.
But for God, who has given as His manifold Grace, we are no better than others. We should not think highly of ourselves by looking down on others. Only God is perfect, because only He is Holy. We are a work in progress in need of mercy, each day. If we are to be more like Christ Jesus, we are to be gentle as He is. On The Cross, as they mocked Him, He pleaded to God to forgive them because they did not know what they were doing. The Lord Jesus wants the best for everyone at all times. We should look out for the best interest of others, even though we don’t often see eye to eye. No one likes to be in constant friction with others. Strife robs us peace of mind, by weighing us down. It’s better not to spew out all our thoughts when we are upset. Choose to keep the peace by the extent to which you can offer it. Walk away and restrain yourself, before things get out of hand.
22 ” But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ (empty-headed) shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5).”
For the most part, people get miffed at minor incidents or nothing of great significance. We are sensitive to other people’s remarks and overly sensitive about their opinions. Anger can lead to sin and even harm others. The Lord warns us that if we become angry with others, for almost no apparent reason, we are subject to His Judgement. We should do a double take and determine if the offence is worth exuding rage. The Lord cautions us that anger is an offence that warrants punitive eternal consequences. Our words have a significant impact on us as well.
Before we bring God our offering, we are to ensure that we have been reconciled with the ones we have disagreed with, and made things right with them. Reconciliation absolves us of wrongdoing and restores what was broken. We should not bring our gifts and offerings to God along with our bitterness, anger and resentment. God is concerned about our inner well-being more than outward appearances. The offering would express our gratitude and honor, while still offended with another. God wants us to be whole in our entirety. God is not fooled by a semblance of peace, while there’s emotional distress within. Resolve issues so that you can cheerfully bring your offering; having peace with God and others.
12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins (Proverbs 10).
Hate doesn’t address issues; it engenders perpetual anger. Love forgives and covers the sins of others. By forgiving we drown out hatred. We too need forgiveness. So we give what we would want others to offer us when we will need the same. We love our neighbor as ourselves, by covering their sin with forgiveness. No one can undo the past wrong they have committed against others; and our hatred will not reverse what happened. We can choose to keep the past where it belongs, with all the darkness that goes along with it. We should try to press forward to ensure that we are becoming more like The Lord, by loving those He also died for. He covered a multitude of sins—our sins. He now lives through us. If we allow Him to, He will cover the sins of others, while He does ours. The Love that covers sin, is The Love of The Lord Jesus, and not our version of love.
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up (Romans 15).
Those who are spiritually weak are easily swayed by the perceptions of others. Newly born-again Christians are still vulnerable to return to their past lifestyles. Since we are all sinners and growing in maturity to be more like Christ, we need to be patient with others. We can learn from the impressionable as much as they can learn from us. We build each other up by not excusing unseemly conduct, but dissuading it with love. A gentle rebuke focuses on the issues, without being condescending. Patience suppresses the urge to be abrasive with our words. People don’t like to feel like they are being judged. We should first meet the spiritual, emotional or physical needs, instead of trying to fix others.
21 Now when the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, “My father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?”
22 But he answered, “You shall not kill them. Would you kill those whom you have taken captive with your sword and your bow? Set food and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” 23 Then he prepared a great feast for them; and after they ate and drank, he sent them away and they went to their master. So the bands of Syrian raiders came no more into the land of Israel (2 Kings 6).
The king of Syria had sent his men to capture Elisha, a man of God. Elisha asked God to blind the men, then he led them astray, he misled them to Samaria. The king of Syria had been planning an attack on the king of Israel, but Elisha had visions of his plans, and told them to the king of Israel. When the king of Israel saw the Syrian men that Elisha misled to Samaria, he wanted to kill them. Elisha prevented him; he told him to feed them, and send them away.
When an adversary has a need, we should try and offer them help. Elisha fed his enemies with a great feast and they never returned to take him or destroy the Israelites. Show your enemy abounding kindness; they might be mortified by their own intentions. When we are gentle with those who don’t deserve it, they may reconsider their motives. If it is within your power to destroy, choose mercy. At bottom, it’s hard to resist kindness or not be moved by it. Gentleness defuses animosity, with a courageous act of kindness.
8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” 9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 4).
As stewards of God’s Grace, which he lavished extravagantly on us, we are to love and forgive others. We start by being hospitable to others. We can stifle the urge to be angry, bitter and rude, by being gracious. Before we speak, we should weigh our words carefully to see if they could mimic God’s Words spoken through us. Before we do something for someone we don’t like, we should check our attitude, whether it is glorifying to God. If we glorify God with our words and actions, we will not entertain thoughts of revenge and hatred. Ask, “Is this the Will of God?” before you speak or act. Gentleness is not as easy as it sounds. It compels us to soften our response to those who irk us. It musters all our energy to suppress our own aggression.
Then Job answered and said: 2 “I have heard many such things; miserable comforters are you all! 3 Shall words of wind have an end? Or what provokes you that you answer? 4 I also could speak as you do, if your soul were in my soul’s place. I could heap up words against you, and shake my head at you. 5 But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the comfort of my lips would relieve your grief (Job 16).”
Job had lost his children and his possessions in one day. His close friends blamed him for his calamities. They questioned his righteousness to God, and deduced that he was being punished for his sins. Job rebuked his friends for not giving him solace when he needed them. He told them that if the shoe were on the on the other foot, he would have strengthened them with comforting words.
We try not to be critical out loud, when we hear about the struggles of another. Our thoughts speak volumes of what kind of comforters we would be, if we were truly honest. Loss and despair are part of life; but this is when we put aside differences, or personal opinions, to give hope and comfort. We may know about another’s poor choices, but we should refrain from casting aspersions. Criticism that doesn’t offer a solution is unprofitable and misplaced. It will not remedy, but add to the problem; it rubs salt into a wound. Comfort and strengthen the one who is hurting, and keep your opinions secondary.
Gentleness is a fruit of The Holy Spirit; it is the Character of Christ. Those who are born-again of the Spirit of Christ, need to cultivate gentleness, myself included. It is very difficult to show mercy and kindness to our adversaries. We have to be intentional about meeting their needs, as we thrust aside resentment. Comfort those who are already suffering, regardless of how they got there. We are stewards of God’s Grace and we should not be found wanting in giving what we have received. Forgive by covering sin. No one is sinless in The Presence of The Holy One. Speak as if God were speaking through you, and in everything you do to others do it for the glory of The Lord. Keep your opinion and criticism to yourself, if it doesn’t build or strengthen the hurting. We are all a work in progress. We need to be gentle and pursue peace willingly.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in Heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is Perfect (Matthew 5) .”