Have you ever had one of those days? There you are, making good effort at work or volunteering in a community organization, and someone decides to throw an obstacle in your way. Then to top it off, they launch a few nasty, personal comments just to make sure that you understand that they are superior to you in every way. Hmmm… remember that day? We all have experienced those days at work, on a team, at a family gathering, or even at church.
The key to these days is how we handle it. It is easy to give in to our earthly feelings, and lash out at the person that has put a target on our back. Our heart and mind can get consumed about why they did that, or how we can get even, or make a big confrontation. Again, this is the easy response. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”. The gentle answer requires the Holy Spirit to be in control of our emotions, and our tongue. When He is in control, only then can we respond to personal attacks without revenge and sarcasm in our hearts.
Phillipians 2:1-4 is a passage that gets to the heart of this issue. Paul makes a very strong statement about how we should act in this world. Phil 2:1-4, “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Paul grabs our attention in this passage and hits us right in our self-centered heart. He is saying,
‘Stop thinking about yourself first’. It is not all about you. My mother often reminded me that I should prioritize my actions with J.O.Y. (Jesus, Others, and then You ) Notice where You are…last. This principle is easy to say, but very hard to do.
All these principles come down to grace in the context of the Gospel. We did not deserve the grace that Christ offered to us at the cross. He responded to our hateful, sinful actions in love, and offered us grace, despite our actions. Ephesians 2: 8-9 reads, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast”.
The key here is that grace is not earned, it is given. Therefore, we cannot permit others to ‘earn’ our grace. We, like Christ, must give it freely, even to those that treat us poorly.
So, the next time you are having one of ‘those’ days, grab on to Phillipians 2:1-4 with both hands, and respond to others like Jesus has treated you.