by Scott Braziski
29 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. 30 Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. 31-32 Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-3, The Message)
20-21 If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both. (1 John 4:20-21, The Message)
In our daily lives we are exposed to “outsiders, newcomers, strangers, and people we don’t know or understand”. This happens on a daily basis in our business lives, our social/personal lives and it happens within the walls of our own church.
How do you treat a new employee at work? Do you offer to help “show them the ropes”? Do you welcome them to the team? Do you include them in lunch plans? I know firsthand from the traveling I do that eating alone can be an awful experience.
Do you offer a smile to a stranger at the grocery store? Do you say “hello” or “good morning” to someone you don’t know while shopping at Walmart?
And how do you treat new families, or even regular members, at church? Are you welcoming? Do you offer assistance? Do you include them? OR, do you ignore them? Say things behind their backs? Talk down about them? I know I certainly have room to improve.
Being a follower of Christ isn’t easy! But then again the sacrifice that was made for us wasn’t easy either. It seems to me that scripture is pretty clear. People come and go. People come from all walks of life. People come from diverse backgrounds and upbringings. People are carrying different burdens and are wrestling their own demons. People are different from you and from me.
So…..how do YOU treat people?! We are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart and to love our neighbors (outsiders, newcomers, strangers, etc) as ourselves. Are you treating people the way you want to be treated? In doing some soul searching I’m certain I have room to improve.
Prayer: Heavenly Father you have shown us by example how we should treat people, and your scripture is clear. We admit that it is difficult sometimes. We allow our emotions to get in our way. We harbor feelings that may or may not even be true. We react without knowing “all the facts”. We are guarded. We build walls. We insulate ourselves from outsiders, newcomers, strangers and from people we just don’t yet understand. Father, help us to be more compassionate. Help us to remember the times we were the “new kid on the block” and the kindness that was expressed to us. Father, change in all of its manifestations is difficult for us as humans. Whether it is us changing our behavior, or acknowledging the change in someone else’s life, we can be a voice in the darkness. Help us to be the people you have called us to be. And help us to act the way we have been taught, to love our neighbor as ourselves, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable it might be. In His mighty name we pray. Amen