1 Peter 5:2-4 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
Do you ever take the bait of unpleasant people? Look for that sweet opportunity to give back what they've been dishing out? No? Well me either!
Except, yeah, actually...yeah.
Having a particularly spiritual moment, I decided to be not a hearer only but also doer of the word by praying for those that despitefully use me (Matthew 5:44.) I was being sincere as I asked God to soften my heart and to bless those who had offended me and who I felt had treated me disrespectfully. I prayed that I would rise above my own frustration and short temper and stop noticing the words and attitudes that aggravate me so. I wanted the Lord to make me softer and sweeter. Instead, God gave me some advice. I don't always follow God's advice, but this time, I'm trying.
Set the example.
If you wait and watch, eventually those folks will do something that will justify being treated just as nastily as they've treated you. And that, my friends, is when you...
Set the example.
Instead of looking for that opportunity to point out their shortcomings and try to make them feel the way they have made me feel, I am looking for that moment to demonstrate grace. To speak in a way that presumes innocence on their part and if I can, to teach them a better way. I'm giving my heart into the hands of Jesus so that I can release the desire for petty revenge and look farther down the road. If I show kindness, if I speak and act differently than they would, maybe I can influence someone to do the same. Maybe then, when that moment comes that I am the one in need of grace; my adversary will know how to pour it out over my life. Surely, they will have no store of grace to share if I don't first pour a portion over them.
And we will both be the better for it.