Good Morning Church! Are You Nice To People?

And I don’t just mean are you polite? Polite does not always equal nice.

I mean do you try to always — always — treat others as you would want to be treated?

When faced with a difficult situation or a difficult person do you try and empathize with them? Do you try to feel what they are feeling — to imagine what they must be going through or the journey they have weathered?

How we treat each other seems to be the biggest obstacle we face as Christians.

A week never goes by that I don’t encounter a remark — or an attitude that is not reflective of the Christlike presence we are called to present. (And sometimes it’s from the person I see when I look in the mirror)

Often times there is a reason — sometimes a good one for the way we treat each other.

At some point we were hurt — maybe deeply and our actions seem justified.

And then there are those times when our behavior to complete strangers can only be explained by our self righteous — judgmental — preconceived impression of the person we are interacting with.

Usually in those cases it is someone that is very different from us — maybe from a rough neighborhood — or someone dressed in rags or radical clothing and we assume we know what type of person they are.

When Christ presented the sermon on the mount he talked extensively about how we treat each other.

The people he was presenting the sermon to had grown up under the law of Moses and Christ continually referred to those laws
Matthew 5:21–22 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Matthew 5:38–39 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
Matthew 5:43–44 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
How can we as Christians read these words and speak badly about those around us or treat them with anything less than the love and respect we would want to receive — even when we aren’t getting it from them.

When my boys were all teenagers;

Yes! All four were teenagers at the same time for about two years — it was fun!

There were times when I felt more like I was working in a war zone than a home.

As I tried to find solution to the hostilities in my home I came across a program that had two key guidelines for shutting down arguments and fighting;

  • Rule #1 There is no excuse for abuse.
And abuse can be defined as simply being mean to each other or as complicated as betrayal and physical violence.
  • Rule #2 It takes two to fight.
And that too can be defined as simply as bickering back and forth or as serious as fists being thrown.
When I adopted these two steadfast rules I began to regain control of my household.

Now granted I could not control four teenage boys completely and my advice to turn the other cheek / love your enemy (especially if he is your brother) often fell on death ears.

Particularly when one would start pounding on the other — under that circumstance it is a bit hard to say turn the other cheek — but think about it? Even in that situation if one of the boys would have just stopped — would the fight have ended more quickly?

And do not get me wrong I absolutely believe there are times when we must defend ourselves — if someone attacks me I may be forced to fight back but first I am going to try to disengage from the situation. That is not only the safest thing to do it is what CHRIST called us to do as HE outlined in the Sermon on the Mount.

So? Was there anyone this past week that you should have treated better?

Yeah me too.

It’s hard but it’s worth it.

Never ever have I wished I had been meaner or more unkind / rude to someone — even when they are difficult or just downright mean themselves.

Being mean or difficult has never made me feel good or given me any satisfaction.

But I always — always feel better about myself and usually I come away feeling better about the other person when I take the high road.

A road that is sometimes tough to climb but once on top the view is spectacular!

Challenge yourself; And I will too! How much time can we all start spending on the high road?

God Bless!
LaVern Vivio
July 9, 2017
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