This week, without intention or desire, I found myself in the middle of a heated disagreement with a person I love and respect. We were talking and laughing one moment and passionately arguing our individual convictions the next. Once we realized what we were doing, we stopped immediately. After a few moments of reviewing the discussion in my mind, I realized that I needed to apologize because in my zeal to express my point of view, my words were received as at best an accusation and at worst a condemnation. This was never, for a single moment, my intent. Even so, my words hurt my friend so I apologized for the hurt I had carelessly caused.
I feel I failed in some way in my God-given mandate to love and treat respectfully all others and this caused me to lose a lot of sleep trying to figure out how this simple conversation got out of hand so quickly. I think the first thing I did wrong was try to defend my viewpoint. I think we all get misled into thinking that if we just state our position logically and with enough passion, the other person will suddenly see the correctness of our argument and agree. If this life were perfect and everything in it black and white, that just might be the case. But this world isn’t perfect nor is anything in it ever simply black and white. It’s like looking at an exquisite multi-faceted gem from one angle only and refusing to acknowledge the existence of the other facets let alone admit they are part of the magnificence of the gem.
My fault was that somewhere in those first moments of conversation, I stopped listening to my friend’s heart. I heard and responded only to the words that were being said and not the heart of the person speaking. It’s something we see Jesus do in the Gospels all the time—he often heard the words of the speaker, but listened and responded to the heart of those who spoke and he responded with undeserved love and grace. This is what he calls me to do. With the Spirit’s help, I try to listen to and respond to a person’s heart in all my interpersonal interactions. It is an exhausting endeavor, believe me. However it is also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done—to see the heart of another person with Jesus’ eyes fills my heart with a joy I can’t put into words and sometimes it makes my heart break for their pain.
May God bless you today to see the heart of another with the eyes of Jesus. My hope is that you will know the glorious joy of responding with the same undeserved love and grace that you have received from God himself.
9-10 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
14-16 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
17-19 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
20-21 Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good. Romans 12:9-21 (MSG)