Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Mid-Week Message - Reacting to Unkindness

"Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t snap back at those who say unkind things about you. Instead, pray for God’s help for them, for we are to be kind to others, and God will bless us for it."  1 Peter 3:9 (TLB)

The teenage years are hard.  So many changes are occurring physically and mentally that young people have a difficult time knowing how to handle life day to day.  This is a time when they are trying to fit in, to be accepted by those around them.  They find approval this way and base their self-esteem upon it.  When my daughter was this age she was attending a private Christian school and unfortunately found herself on the receiving end of unkind comments and actions from many of the other girls.  She was bullied.  As her mother, I found it incredibly disturbing because I was bullied at that age as well so I knew the feelings she was experiencing.  

When we know that our children are being mistreated by their peers, we want to remedy the situation as quickly as possible.  We often tell them to ignore the mistreatment, however, there just isn't any way for them to close their ears to the ridicule they are hearing or their eyes to looks they receive. What they need to know is that there is always a place where they can find absolute love and will be openly welcomed and accepted for who they are.  They need to know of the all-encompassing love of the Lord Jesus and have a relationship with Him so that they always have someone nearby to turn to.  

It is natural for us to want to return meanness for meanness.  To come up with a biting retort when someone speaks ugly words to us.  Our human side desires to inflict pain on those who have inflicted pain on us.  However, scripture clearly teaches that we need to pray for our enemies and to be kind to those around us.   Jesus experienced ridicule.  He experienced physical, mental and emotional violence.  He could have slain his abusers with just a thought, after all He was God in the flesh.  But He returned His attacks with forgiveness, kindness and love.  I can only imagine that the human side of Him must have made every attempt to argue back, yet He did not give in to human impulses.  

We are bombarded daily with opportunities to either show love or disdain.  Disgruntled people will often take their frustrations out on the first person they see.  Sometimes that is you or me.  Life is stressful and the choices made to handle that stress aren't always positive.  Road rage is rampant here in the Atlanta area, as I am sure it is wherever you are as well.  Sometimes we forget that the person on the receiving end of our outbursts also has feelings and is going through difficulties of their own.  We can't control other people, but we can control ourselves.  By following Christ's example we can react in kindness rather than anger.  In this way we honor Him and bless others.  Just think what would happen if, one by one, people decided to react with love rather than rage.  

Our children learn to handle life by observing how those around them handle life.  Parents can have a tremendous influence for good if the example they set for their offspring is one of godly reactions.  If we can have them in the habit of forgiving and being kind before they hit the turbulent teens, then maybe it will not be quite as traumatic for them.  In that way, they can pass on the example and touch the hearts of others their age.  Great change happens one person at a time.  This week, let's determine to be that one person.  God bless you.

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