Gentle and Respectful
Navigating through a harsh world in a winsome way.
Bumper stickers are funny. They often reflect our personality. I am particularly sensitive to Christian themed decals. The abrasive ones really annoy me. I saw one the other day that started “You are not a Christian if…” You fill in the doctrine from there. Often the person feels so passionately about the subject they don’t recognize the antagonistic message they are sending. I found myself grumbling lf the rest of the way home.
Then it dawned on me I was judging a woman I don’t know. How could I know the intent of her heart? Maybe she meant to be judgmental, maybe not. I don’t always love others. People can be annoying. Do you know what I mean? They don’t drive right, they don’t talk right, they don’t believe right. …Have you caught yourself thinking that way?
Left to myself, I cannot reflect Jesus to others. I need to know and follow Him. I can only do this through a daily interaction with the Holy Spirit. This is why Jesus said in John 14:26 (NLT) “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”
None of this is new revelatory information. Yet, we need to be reminded. Living life as a Christian, balanced between grace and truth, is difficult. We often fall too far to one side or the other. We daily negotiate mine fields of cultural rhetoric. Often I want to throw up my hands and walk away. Not from Jesus mind you but from people.
But Jesus said the second most important commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Matthew 22:39) This is our challenge, not only to learn the truth but to live the truth. I can only accomplish this with a close association with the Holy Spirit. I need to daily allow myself to be filled with His power because ministry requires us to be other focused instead of self-focused. It is our challenge to remember people are more important than anything. Jesus died because He loved the people.
As I have entered a new season in my life, I have an empty nest and now a new title, I want to revisit this age old lesson. I don’t want to worry about what others think about me. I simply want to accept them where they are. Peter summed it up beautifully. “Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!” 1 Peter 3:13-17
That is how I want to be thought of. Someone that lives a good life, by choosing what is good in a given situation. Someone that is gentle and respectful towards others, even if I disagree. Someone who declares Jesus as Lord of her life. Someone who draws others to truth. Plain and simple, someone that loves. How about you? Will you join me on this journey?