I must confess that I am a “justice-seeker” by nature. Since I was about eight years old, I had a vengeance mentality when I would hear of injustice. I have always been too afraid to follow through with any thoughts of vengeance, but I have now discovered that by allowing those thoughts of vengeance into my mind and heart, they made me as monstrous, as the offenders themselves.
Jesus looks at the heart. Extending the kindness of Jesus is right, even when it gets tough.
About a couple of years ago, I had some conflicts with a couple of managers at work. They, I had felt, kept hurting me repeatedly, especially one of them. The issues between that manager and I got so intense that, on my day off, when I went into church, for Wednesday night service, I was still consumed with anger and bitterness. My heart was so filled with negativity, that it was like a whale swallowing its food whole, and I really was concerned that I was going to lose my cool at work the next day.
Fortunately, my pastor was able to talk some serious sense into me before things spiraled even further out of control. In fact, what my pastor taught me that day, and what God has had to continually teach me, led to the restoration of this work relationship. My pastor taught me to be kind, though it was tough and initially didn’t feel like it. Here are some of the important lessons that I have learned and am still learning about being kind when it is tough:
1.We must humanize our offenders
When I had conflicts with my manager, I failed to both own my part in the conflict and I saw him as a monster.
It was nigh impossible for me to really show any inkling of kindness towards him. However, when God opened my eyes to both my foolishness of my made-up caricature of my manager and the blindness I had towards his good qualities, I was able to show kindness more readily towards him.
Moreover, God also showed me how my manager had been going through immense pain and heartache throughout his life, and thus I began to see him as a hurting, yet brilliant human being, instead of the monster I had created in my mind.
I was able to then show genuine kindness to him without reluctance or fear that he would hurt me again. I began to offer him assistance when I sensed he was feeling overwhelmed or stressed by the mountain of work he had to do, and I tried to encourage him when he was feeling down or upset.
By extending kindness to him and having a more accurate, human picture of him, despite our past conflicts, the work relationship grew and was able to be restored.
2. We must check our attitudes.
Often, when someone hurts me by lying or being duplicitous towards me in some way, I become all too angry and bitter. A few days ago, I found out that someone had stolen an item from me, and while I was glad that the item was recovered, I became bitter and angry at the person I thought did it.
When our attitudes towards someone or some people become negative, we will not likely treat them with much kindness or respect. This is when we should ask God to change our hearts and attitudes towards these people. Pray blessings over them and look for opportunities to be kind.
3.We must trust God to change our offender’s heart.
When I was still having problems with my manager and was still consumed by bitterness and hurt towards him, I complained to my pastor, “I tried to be nice to him, but I don’t think anything is happening.” My pastor wisely replied, “Patricia, you must trust God’s timing. Just because God is not bringing about these changes now, doesn’t mean He won’t someday in His perfect time.”
I always feared that if I were kind to my offender, that I would effectively give license to him or her to hurt me again. However, I realize now that God will use my obedience in still being kind to them for good—either or both to change me or to transform my offender’s heart.
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,Matthew 5:44 ESV
Is there someone in your life that has hurt you, and that you are still reeling in anger and bitterness against? I want to challenge you today to do one kind thing for them. (If they are legitimately dangerous or abusive, you still can pray good things for them or for the transformation of their heart. Sometimes it is the kindest thing you can do for them.)
Will you join me today?
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A Little More About Patricia
My name is Patricia A. Go, and my love of writing started when I was just eight years old. God’s Whisperings is a blog that started out as wanting to share with others lessons that I learned about what God had been teaching me through various situations in my life, and quickly became, for me, a catalyst to bring people God’s love, hope, and joy through what I have learned in life. Join me in my thoughts as I share what God is teaching me.