What is his problem? I kept asking myself this as one of my closest work friends just kept being derisive toward me, belittling me, and basically doing anything and everything he could to torment me at every turn while we worked. For a while, I just kept trying to ignore it, figuring it would stop. But it didn’t. Finally, I could take no more and walked straight up to him, looked him in the eyes, and said, “You’re being a real jerk today, and I don’t like it.”
Well, guess how much that solved the problem? Exactly, it only made it worse. Afterward, he seemed to have even more anger in his derisiveness toward me. Finally, at lunchtime, I approached him again—only this time in a non-threatening way—and said, “Hey buddy, I don’t know what’s wrong or what I may have done to upset you, but if there is anything I can do to help the situation, I would like to.”
At that point, he let out a big sigh and started apologizing profusely. He explained that I had done nothing. He had just had a tough night, and his morning hadn’t started well either. He also explained that he wasn’t happy with how our employer was treating him. I listened sincerely and told him I was sorry about his situation. I let him know I was there for him if needed. Amazingly, the rest of the day went great, and I felt a heavy weight lift off my heart. I imagine he did as well.
17 With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.
My first reaction to my friend’s behavior came from a hardened heart, and his response was extremely negative. Last weekend, our guest speaker, Pastor Ashlee Eiland, shared that kindness is what the world needs now. Choosing kindness in stressful situations can not only preserve the hearts of others but also our hearts as well.
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
When I approached my friend with kindness, all bitterness dissolved, our anger went away, the truth came out, and our friendship was restored.
Ashlee left this question for us: “What is your heart preserving?”
Is it keeping bitterness and anger fresh? Or is it keeping space for kindness even in the face of grievous offenses?
As Ashlee asked, “What is your heart preserving?”
Can you remember a time when someone showed kindness to you in a stressful situation? How did that make you feel?
Take an honest look inside your own heart.
Work on showing kindness as a first resort instead of reacting with anger or bitterness.
Find a Group with whom you can share your problems and receive support and kindness from others.
Gracious God, you set the ultimate example of kindness through your Son, Jesus. Help us to learn from that example and be more like him by preserving kindness in our hearts and leaving no room for bitterness or rage to dwell. Help us to show kindness to those we meet in our everyday lives and to preserve our hearts in joy, love, peace, and kindness. In your holy name we pray, amen.
This post was written by Ned Miller, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.
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