09 October 2011

Be Gentle to All

This post comes to you courtesy of a quote I saw on Facebook recently. "Be gentle to all and stern with yourself." I don't know who said this originally, but it was posted in my dad's status. It got me thinking about how I want to live my life doing exactly what this quote says. Isn't this exactly what Christians are called to do?

Isn't it interesting that almost everyone looks at life through their own experiences and assumes that, if everyone else just did the same thing that they do, everything would be fine? I know I am guilty of doing this too often. I am learning to do this less and less, and I have learned that, even if I see someone doing something that they would probably be better off doing my way (because I am infinitely smarter and right about everything, uh-hem, arrogant), to keep my mouth shut.

This is a hard lesson to learn. I know I'm not 100% successful at implementing this lesson, but I try to look at others' lives with a wider scope than the one I give myself. I think this is a good lesson to learn. Most of us tend to give ourselves more grace than we give those around us. We judge people harshly for doing the same things that we do and then let ourselves off the hook. We look at our lives and how far we have come and think, "Why haven't they learned this yet? Why are they doing such ridiculous things?"

To protect our relationships, I firmly believe that we need to take a step back and realize that no two people have the same experiences in life, that the way God works in our lives is not exactly the way He chooses to work in someone else's life, that we are each unique and on our own journey, and that, if someone hasn't learned what we have learned, it doesn't mean that they aren't as wise or mature or spiritual as we are. It just means that they haven't made it through that lesson yet.

If we really open our eyes, then we will see that we can learn from that person. Through showing them grace and allowing the Lord to work in their lives rather than making a personal attempt at fulfilling the role of the Holy Spirit (an impossibility that will only bring you heartache. I know this from experience), we can then step back and see how the Lord has taught them lessons that he hasn't taught us yet. That's right! Put the shoe on the other foot, and see how far you get! I am certain you will find something that you didn't see, something in that other person's life that is convicting to you. 

Let's give this a try.  

"Be gentle to all and stern with yourself."

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