There is a wonderful verse in Holy Scripture that sets the tone for how we should live with those around us. We are to do all we can to live in peace with everyone. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18 NIV).
If the way you treat others depends upon how they treat you, then the Lord Jesus does not yet reign fully in you. The greater your love for your enemies, the greater Christ reigns in you. The Lord Jesus taught, “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32 NKJV).
In this world, we will have many who come against us. Some will do so on occasion, and others will be that way whenever they have a chance to offend us. Too often, we focus on their behavior and will often justify our own as being a reasonable response.
Sometimes we’re not meant to overcome our enemy but to win them over. The Lord Jesus taught us, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may prove yourselves to be sons of your Father who is in heaven…” (Matthew 5:43-45 NASB).
What is reasonable to humans is far below the expectations given by our Lord. We think it is reasonable to respond in kind and think we are only giving people what they deserve. But God calls us to a higher level than what the world would have us do.
The Christian life is a progression of letting go of one thing and taking hold of another. “Get rid of your bitterness, hot tempers, anger, loud quarreling, cursing, and hatred. Be kind to each other, sympathetic, forgiving each other as God has forgiven you through Christ” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NOG).
As the Lord extends His great mercy to us, so He wants us to extend mercy to others. If we are to show the world the difference God can make, then we must do so by being different. We cannot make someone else change how they act, but we can let the Lord change how we act.
If you want to change people around you, then live a life that inspires them to do so. “Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity” (1 Timothy 4:12b NLT).
If we are to walk in the Spirit, then we must stop responding in our flesh. In our flesh, we will react as the world does and strike back in kind or with a greater measure. In the flesh, we see passivity as a weakness and restraint as something not humanly possible.
The higher faith is always counter to the desires of the flesh. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the desire of the flesh is against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, in order to keep you from doing whatever you want” (Galatians 5:16-17 NASB).
God does not command us to live to the level of what is humanly possible. The Lord calls us to live in surrender to Him such that it will be His strength by which we can live. To walk in the Spirit requires that we first yield in our flesh to the power of the Holy Spirit within us.
A yielded life gains ground. “…Through our yielded lives he spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere we go” (2 Corinthians 2:14 TPT).
In the kingdom, passivity is the power of restraint brought forth by the strength that flows from heaven. Anybody can respond with fury, but it takes a man or woman of God to hold back and let the Lord control them. Restraint is the Power of the Lord working through us.
Restraint on earth is a superpower from heaven. “But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23 AMP).
When we treat the unkind with kindness, we are a witness to the power of God. When we show mercy undeserved, we are telling a story of all that Jesus did for us. Never underestimate the power of a message contained in the grace you extend to the undeserving.
Don’t let how you treat others depend on how they treat you. Jesus taught us, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28 NIV).
Sometimes there will be nothing you can do to change how someone else treats you. How someone chooses to live is on them. But what about you? As far as it depends on you, how will you live? The Lord will never judge you on how someone treated you but on how you treated others.
Consider how you treat others, knowing you might be the last straw. “God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. Together with these things, the most important part of your new life is to love each other. Love is what holds everything together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:12-14 ERV).
Blessings to you,