Prepared for Gentle Respect

1 Peter 3:15But in your hearts set apart Christ Jesus as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (NIV 1978)

My Musing – In a world with little hope, Christians should stand out because of their hope. This is likely to raise questions. Questions we should be able to answer (although many are unprepared). We should not be arrogant or condescending in our replies. The lost deserve our pity and compassion, not a “holier-than-thou” response.

My Advice – Be gentle in your responses. Respect their right to choose for themselves. Do not lose your gentleness if they do not choose Christ. There may be another time and how you respond to them now may make some difference later.

Fight or Flight, As Long As I Am Right?

Screenshot (75)

Romans 12:9-10Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 12:14-16Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. (NIV 1984)

Romans 12:17-18Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (NIV 1984)
Romans 12:21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (NIV 1984)
Colossians 4:6Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (NIV 1984)
Ephesians 4:14-15Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. (NIV 1984)

 

My Musings – Society (having the same root, more or less, as social) appears to be becoming anything but social (can we still call it social media?).  Why is it that as civilization becomes more and more polarized, it is becomes less and less civil?  How can we restore social to society and civil to civilization?  First, a couple thoughts from other.

  • Fear, Hate and Disagreement – Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle [views, opinions, beliefs], you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe [say] or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate. – Rick Warren
  • Crucial Conversations – A discussion between two or more people where (1) stakes are high, (2) opinions vary, and (3) emotions run strong.

It is okay to hold opposing views.  It is okay to care passionately about those views.  But because the stakes are high (relationships that we care just as passionately about), we must handle these conversations well.  People can and do disagree about important issues.  Because they feel passionately about their own views and beliefs, emotions can run high.  As a result, how we disagree matters (stakes are high) a lot.

One can either digress into threats (fight), revert to silent fuming (flight) or speak openly, honestly and effectively. The question is, when it matters most, are we at our worst (fight or flight and ineffective) or at our best (open, honest, caring and effective)?  One can handle them poorly (fight) and face the consequences.  One can walk away (flight) and face the consequences.  Or one can handle them well (open and honest) and minimize or avoid the consequences altogether.

The irony is, the more crucial the conversation, the less likely we are to handle it well and the more likely the consequences will be broken relationships. Being passionate in our beliefs and being compassionate with those of opposing beliefs are not mutually exclusive. Passion need not result in polemic behavior and compassion need not result in compromised beliefs.

Notes from Crucial Conversations, by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler. McGraw Hill, 2012.

Not every conversation, not every issue is crucial.  But sometimes what is trivial to one, is of the utmost importance to the other.  For example, in 1968 and into 1969, talks to end the Vietnam nearly did not even get started over disagreements (lasting ten weeks) over the shape of the conference table.  Trivial to some, crucial to others.  Ultimately, however, the stakes (peace – the objective of everyone at the table) were very high.

Many times, there is no absolute right or wrong answer, except to the parties who cannot agree.  At other times there is an absolute right and wrong, with someone being absolutely wrong and no way of changing their mind. We cannot control what others view as crucial.   What we can control is how we engage.  We may still end up disagreeing, but we need not be disagreeable.  By the same token, we need not agree to be agreeable.

My Advice – Do not allow passion to extinguish your compassion.  Do not allow compassion to compromise your passion.  The truth is never afraid of open and honest dialogue.

 

 

 

Pay Back or Pay Forward?

1 Thessalonians 5:15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Our ways should not be the ways of the world, but the ways of the Lord. Rather than crush a foe, we should try to win a foe. After all nothing is gained by defeating another, but we can gain a friend by winning (not defeating) them over.

My Advice – Don’t seek revenge. This is the way of the world. You are called to be different. Rather, be kind to those who would harm you.

Your Attitude Should Be…

Philippians 2:2-5Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Ambition is fine, as long as it is not driven by selfishness. Humility does not mean you have to have a low opinion of yourself, just don’t be conceited and drive others down. It is okay to look out for your own interests as long as you don’t do it at the expense of others.

My Advice – Watch yourself in your career that you do not become driven by selfish ambition. Do not let success make you vain and conceited. Don’t walk over others to advance yourself. Help others at work.

Burden Bearers

Galatians 6:1Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – And what is the law of Christ? Love God with all our heart, soul and might and love our neighbors as ourselves.

My Advice – Burdens are easier to bear when there is someone to help. Help others with theirs. God will certainly send someone to help you with yours when it is needed. It very well could be someone you helped previously, helping you because you helped them.

So Men Would Seek Him

Acts 17:26, 27From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – It may still seem like a mystery why some people live their entire lives in the jungle, never hearing the Gospel. But this verse assures us of one of two things. Either they are in the most likely time and place for them to know God and receive salvation, or they would never have come to know God no matter what time or place they lived and no matter how many times they heard the Gospel.

My Advice – God placed you at this time in history for a reason. He placed you in this family for a reason. He even placed you in Sycamore (at least for awhile) for a reason. You came to know Him. He will put you someplace (job and city) else after graduation for a reason. Look for His purpose. It is not just to make a living. It is to further your life in Him. Continue reaching out to and seeking Him.

What’s Stopping You?

Screenshot (306)

Ephesians 2:10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – God solved the ultimate when He sent His Son to die for us.  That is His workmanship.  Now we are new creations with work to do that God has prepared for us.  That is our workmanship.  How are we doing?

My Advice – This week, only for myself.