Before We Respond
"For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men." 1 Peter 2:15 (NIV)
Sweet friend, let's chat. About "those" emails. "Those" comments. "Those" words from another that make our heart beat, our throat tighten, and our smile fall.
Harsh comments seem so unnecessary to me. I honestly can't find any sort of justification in Scripture to hurl insults and ugliness at another person. But, these are a reality in my world. A small reality, thank heavens, but a reality none the less. Sadly, I bet you can relate.
And I'll be honest; I'm just as prone as the next person to feel like putting an ugly worded person in their place. Hurt when I've been hurt. Invent a slap button for my computer. Not so nice, huh?
That's why I don't react out of my feelings. This will only cause the conflict to escalate rather than dissipate.
I wait to respond until the hurt can be processed with more than my feelings. For me, hurtful things are first processed through the emotional part of my brain before the logical part of my brain. Honestly, I need both emotion and logic to be involved in my response, so I wait. And I need some Scripture to get involved before responding.
In 1 Peter, Chapter 2, we find a treasure trove of verses that relate to this issue.
So, here are three things I keep in mind before I reply:
Is a reply even necessary?
"For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men." (1 Peter 2:15)
Sometimes the delete button is a lovely feature. Not every email needs a reply. Not every critic should be given an answer. Especially if someone's comments are sent to us anonymously. Don't let their comments derail you. Instead let it be a reminder of how more effectively your time could be spent doing something good. Invest in that good and let your actions reveal your heart.
A reaction and a reply are vastly different.
"When they hurled their insults at him (Jesus), he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." (1 Peter 2:23)
It's hard to resist retaliation. It can feel quite justifiable to hurt the one who hurt us. But just because it feels right doesn't mean it is right.
We can turn our initial harsh reaction into a gentle response by pausing. Take some time to let our emotions cool off. Seek to see things from the other person's perspective. Realize there is probably a lot more hurt going on in their heart than what we'll ever know — and chances are it has very little to do with us. Wrap our response in kindness and truth. Leave the judging up to God. God knows. God sees. God honors those who honor Him.
Humility is a beautiful diffuser.
"For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls" (1 Peter 2:25).
Sometimes a harsh comment from another is a reason to step back and honestly assess if some of what's being criticized is our fault. Ask for forgiveness. Seek to bring truth to light in a gentle and loving way. And offer grace. Giving grace doesn't make them right. It simply and humbly acknowledges we both need it, so I chose to freely give it.
Oh sweet friend...I hope you don't need this advice today. But, if and when you do, I pray it helps.
Dear Lord, show me how to seek You like never before. Please help me to see this hurt as an opportunity today. And opportunity to seek grace, model love, and expand past my initial flesh reactions. I want to make right choices that honor You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
We need both emotion and logic to be involved in our responses. And we also need Scripture to refer to ponder, and pray through. Write a verse from this devotion that most resonated with your heart and post it next to your computer.
Giving grace doesn't make the other person right. It simply and humbly acknowledges we both need it, so I chose to freely give it. How will this thought help my with my responses going forward? Remember, God knows, God sees, God honors those who honor Him.
1 Peter 2:22, "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." (NIV)
Psalm 133:1, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" (NIV)