Saturday, October 15, 2016

Turning the Other Cheek with a Smile

Recently a friend told me about a person who, when they are together always says things to deliberately hurt her—especially in faith matters. He shows no respect and seems to enjoy making her uncomfortable. This friend was dreading that Thanksgiving forced the two to share the same room and celebration. I could readily identify with her.  Don’t we all have such people in our lives?
Even though Jesus told us in Matthew 5 that we are to be “happy about it when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers,” and even promises us a blessing, it’s hard for us humans to rejoice when it actually happens.

     My first reaction to such put-downs is apt to be hurt. Then I begin to think of all kinds of come-backs, most of which are not the kind of thing I really want to say. To say them would put me on the same level as the one who is throwing such denunciations at me. I bite my tongue and try to keep quiet, but my self-esteem takes a beating. The whole ambiance is quickly turned to discomfort and a wish to escape and lick my wounds.

     How quickly words can change attitudes and feelings.  A few words can build up or tear down in a matter of seconds.  I, myself, need to be conscious of this and use words carefully so as to do the former rather than the latter. I have control over what I say if I heed the warning that James has for me. He reminds me that an unruly tongue can set my whole life afire!

     So what if I am in the presence of someone else who wants to set my life on fire? How do I act or react?  It’s especially difficult when it’s my faith, or my Lord that is being ridiculed. What can I do to make the circumstance a positive rather than a negative?  Proverbs tells me that a soft answer turns away wrath, but how often can I think of an appropriate soft answer when I’m under fire? 

     It seems to me the best antidote to such situations is to try to see these people through Jesus’ eyes. What do I speculate Jesus’ thoughts to be when he sees this happening to a beloved child of his?  How does he see the person who is so insecure in his own feelings that he needs to belittle someone else?

     Ah-hh!  He loves us both.

     I can rest secure in God’s love for me, his support and assurance even in the face of unkind remarks, because he loves me so much.  He is right there with me, ready to take the barbs meant for me. Instead of resentment, I can feel pity and love for the person who feels he needs to be putting me down.  I can quietly ask God to see behind the insecurity this individual feels.  I can ask the Holy Spirit to whisper words of kindness to another child he loves. I can offer a kindly smile, knowing that he still hasn’t found the grace of God.

     And if he wonders why I offer that smile after unkind words, maybe it will help him pause to think again!


Peter Black said...

A sensitive, thoughtful and kind piece, Ruth. You show "the better way" - the generous way of love. May your positive responses to your friend's negative ways be instrumental in raising his gaze Godward to find the grace you have found. ~~+~~

Glynis said...

Oh yes, Ruth, I sure can relate. Most of our family gatherings are like this but that is one reason I like to host - we get to have a little more control over things like saying grace at a meal.

And oh, the power of words. When I first came across the scripture in James (3:4) where it speaks about the tongue being like the rudder of a ship - that spoke volumes to me on how our words can influence - for good or bad.

Great post that made me think! Thanks.

Ruth Smith Meyer said...

Thanks for your comments, Peter and Glynis! I especially like your idea Peter, that we can be instrumental in raising another's gaze Godward!

Popular Posts