The Grace Solution (365 Days of Daring Faith — DAY 274)
Proverbs 29:11 (NLT)
Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.
There are a host of things you can’t control in this life. You can’t control the color of your school, where you were born, or who your parents are. You can’t control what happens to you on a daily basis, what people say or think, or the situations you encounter. You also can’t control the way you look, how tall or short you are, or your past. Many people waste time trying to control the things and the people that are simply beyond their power.
While you can’t control a significant number of factors in your life, the one thing you can control is how you respond and react to the situations and people in your life that you would deem difficult, unfair, and even depressing. When you encounter a hard to deal with person at a drive-thru, you can choose right in that moment to let the situation stress you out, make you angry, and respond in like manner. Or you can choose to override your natural tendencies and respond with kindness and grace.
We can control what happens to us but we can control how we respond and react to what happens to us. When we encounter an angry and belligerent person, our natural tendency is to respond in kind, to fight back, to defend ourselves, to show our own anger. That’s a choice we make. We can choose also to respond in the complete opposite of the way we are being treated. We can react with love, kindness, and grace; pray for the person or seek in some way to bring peace and comfort to the situation. That a choice we make as well.
An immature person will seek to lay out all his or her feelings in the heat of the situation. Their attitude is to get back at someone, to get their licks in, to not go down without a fight. This is not the type of attitude that believers ought to have. Spiritual maturity calls for us to live responsibly. That means we are to practice self-control, think before we speak, consider consequences before we act, put the needs and feelings of others before our own, and take any unfair or unjust treatment to God so he can handle it for us in only the way he can.
When people in our lives cause us hurt or pain, the solution isn’t to get even. Getting even only causes the matter to get worse and puts us on the same playing field as the other person. We fall to the level of the other person and instead of reacting in forgiveness and love, we respond with anger and hate filled words. God calls us to stand on a higher level — a level of grace and faith. We know that the battles we face are not ours to fight; they are ours to give to the Lord to fight for us.
One reason why we should respond in love and grace is because we all need grace in our lives. We aren’t perfect. Sometimes we do things that we know we shouldn’t do, we say things that we later regret, we act in ways that are less than expected of a Christian. We let our flesh get the best of us. Some people need more grace than others, but every one of us needs grace in order to make it in this life and in the life to come. Grace is free and unmerited favor to those who don’t deserve it and that includes all of us.
The proper reaction to any combative situation is not to speak louder than the other person, to defend ourselves and aim to always be right or to clam up and sit in a corner and cry. (Although crying may be necessary sometimes as a means to deal with personal feelings.) Instead, God wants us to be responsible and respond to these situations with love, truth, and grace. One thing is very simple about God and his relationship with his children. If you give it over to him, he will settle the score — fairly, justly, and completely.
“We’re all stumbling towards the light with varying degrees of grace at any given moment.”
— Bo Lozoff