I'm in the process of trying to teach my girls what it means to be first in God's Kingdom. Which is to say, those who would be first, need, here in this life, to focus on being the last. And not just the last - I mean THE VERY LAST. That is what Scripture says. What I believe that truly means is that you don't just let your sister get in the car first because it's what Mommy told you to do. You do it because you love her and want her to be safe - over your own safety. Of course, that has yet to happen and I'm sure it might take them 29 years, like it did me, to figure that out.
But this comes to me, prompted by a Proverbs 31 Devotional, at a time when I'm at odds with a "challenging person." I believe in this situation I have and continue to be obedient to what The Lord is asking me to do. I don't expect reconciliation but have opened the door to that, despite my inclination to just avoid this person till I leave. I want this person to be healed and continue to pray for that but in other situations that I haven't turned over - where is my pride getting at me? Where do I care less if I'm working to serve, to be the VERY last?
By asking this question, I start to venture down a road that is filled with debris. I'm going to trip and find there is a huge boulder of "I'm WAY better than him/her" even if I just think it. How am I to teach my girls their place in God's economy if I don't fully know my own?
The good news is - I don't have to. Nor do I have to be afraid to walk down the path - asking a most dangerous question - Lord, what I am doing that is counterproductive to your Kingdom? I can be assured that my lame attempts at obedience, while in my own power, have no impact. However, with the backing of The Holy Spirit, I'm emboldened. Joshua 23:10 says I can rout a thousand because The Lord my God is with me. Sounds good huh? Routing people, I mean.
My mom told me many, many, many, many times, especially in high school, the best way to resolve a situation is to "kill them with kindness." (I'm destined to repeat this saying with my children, I know). And when I practice that, it more or less works. While this saying has something in common with what Jesus said, the intent is really what matters. It always comes back to that, darn it.
While you would like to "kill" someone with kindness, Jesus turns it around to shine the light on my heart. It's not that I want to make this person feel bad for what they've done or said by being nice. Jesus actually wants me to be genuinely nice! To love my neighbor as myself! Even if my neighbor (or friend or family member or random person on the street) is totally unlovable!
Darn those radical commands of His!! The Truth will set you free - but sometimes it will set you right down in frustration too.
I have done this in my marriage and it works. It's much more challenging to do when you don't live with a person. When you don't HAVE to talk or see them. But that's the easy way out. That's the coward's way. Let your sister go in front, not because you love her, but because you've been told to do it.
See - it's all about the heart. I had this on my FB page for awhile - If you do the right thing from the wrong heart - it's still the wrong thing. And that greatly applies here. So, Lord, I ask you to show me where my heart is wrong, even if I'm still walking in obedience. Give me to power to love my enemies, no matter what and I know you aren't just putting up with me. You will do it, not only have You promised, but it greatly pleases You to bless me. Thank you for such a wonderful promise and follow through. Keep me safe and one more thing - let my girls love others more than they love themselves!