I wrote last time about how I’ve struggled with self-control in regards to respecting others. In thinking about my propensity to yell at fellow drivers from behind my rolled up car windows or to berate various customer service representatives via the relative anonymity of a phone call, I now see the sad reality – i.e., that I’ve demonstrated a disregard for those people in those situations. My actions reveal the fact that I struggle to see strangers for who they are – namely, incredible creations knit together in their mothers’ wombs by a God who loves them with His whole being. When that happens – when I essentially dehumanize another – it’s easy to treat them poorly. In other words, it’s hard to do the right thing when no one’s looking or when it’s hard – to have a willing-good character – when I fail to choose to see others as worthwhile human beings.
Put another way, if we want to develop a willing-good character in ourselves – and in our kids – we must decide to consistently choose to view other people – friends, family, strangers walking down the street, those with whom we differ politically, even “extra grace required” folks – the way God sees them, as revealed in the words and actions of Jesus. But how on earth do we do that?
Obviously, that’s part of our sanctification so it’s a process, not a one-time decision that “sticks” for the rest of our lives. And we can’t ultimately muscle it out in our own strength; indeed, regarding others positively really does take supernatural intervention in some situations!
But God tells us His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3.22-23). And I know it’s true for me – as well as for many others with whom I’ve spoken over the years – that when I purpose to spend time with Him first thing every morning, everything “goes better” through the day. That doesn’t mean my life is smooth sailing on days when I start out reading the Word and praying; goodness, sometimes those days have more “issues” than any other! But I’ve seen that I can manage life’s inevitable difficulties – including stressful interpersonal interactions – with grace and peace when I start my days in God’s presence. And I’m more able to help my children do the same when we all begin our days purposely focused on Him.
Our lives can feel so hectic at times that we might believe we don’t have time to devote to Him each morning. But, as the old saying goes, “If you’re too busy to pray, you’re too busy.” In other words, if we really do desire to respect others so we can demonstrate willing-good character toward them, we must set our priorities so we start each day with Him.
Photo Credit: Elis Alves