In A World Where We Are Often Slighted, Antidote Is The Sword Of Joy From Love
We live at a time when it is difficult to be nice. Don't you find it strange out there?
There is a spirit moving. Let's call it the spirit of rudeness, as well as ego: everyone is easily slighted.
You are in a parking lot and pulling out and the person who swoops behind honks because he's in a hurry. In the car, you get the horn if you don't instantly make a turn on red. You're in a gas station and line up at the wrong pump and someone comes over yelling. You go to the store, and the clerk treats you like he or she is doing you a favor (how long a way we have come from the saying that "the customer is always right"!). Meanwhile, as you shop, employees with "May I help You" signs on on the backs of their uniforms try to avoid you; at the checkout, you thank them for taking your money.
What a world we live in!
There is rudeness and estrangement -- friends are being set even against friends -- and we do ourselves a favor by not reacting to it.
Didn't you ever notice how when someone is rude and you don't respond in kind it loses its sting? "The vexation of a fool is known at once," says Proverbs, "but the prudent man ignores an insult."
"Answer not a fool according to his folly," says this same book, "lest you be like him yourself."
Now, that's not to say you shouldn't stand up for your rights, nor that you should ignore a transgression. There are authorities whom you can contact, if a situation so warrants.
Just don't engage with the person who is antagonistic, don't respond in kind, and don't obsess about it, because it is what the spirit of antagonism (of division, of rudeness) is trying to make you do, and what gives such a spirit its energy.
Delve not into the darkness but into the Light above it.
Knowing this -- that a spirit is behind it -- helps us turn the cheek and see beyond the coarse behavior of a person. Indeed, there are times when the evil one orchestrates attacks against us personally -- causing an unusual run of aggravation through various people over a period of time. It's like the world is suddenly against us!
This is a test, and if you can pass it with peace of mind (and love in your heart), there are cheers in Heaven. On earth, matters straighten out. "When a man's ways please the Lord," says Proverbs, "even his enemies will be at peace with him."
Our young? Many have no respect for adults and openly defy them. Have you ever seen them standing in a street, blocking traffic, as they wait for a bus, and giving adult passersby strange hand signals?
It is a symptom not just of how we are raising our kids but of how we are all interacting; it is a time when the devil is trying to set everyone off against each other -- stranger against stranger, worker against worker, wife against husband, parents against children.
Remember those words: the devil is trying to set us all against each other.
In just the past few months, have you noticed an increase in animosity, in quarrels, in ill feelings, in irritation?
It is a sign of our times. The devil wants us to believe the worst of each other because it unleashes his power to divide and conquer. He can cause a force around us that makes others antagonistic to us (or to perceive us in a way that is totally inaccurate).
Did you know that we can say one thing and a person can hear us say something else, thanks to the filter of evil?
We know spirits are moving when old friends are miffed over little slights or when the ego is easily irritated.
Don't let this happen to you. Don't fall into the dissension of the time. Be simple as Christ was simple, humble as He was humble, and see the truth of a situation (instead of drowning in complex and fruitless schemes of revenge).
Love under all circumstances and you will puncture through any assault by the evil one. This is your shield. It is also a sword. It will go before you and neutralize the acid that may await you. Let love and cheerfulness go before you as a guardian. Slash through the rudeness of others with the sword of joy that comes from love and you will be astonished at how circumstances you could not have rectified yourself will suddenly turn in your favor.
"All the days of the afflicted are evil," adds that same mysterious Book of Proverbs, "but a cheerful heart has a continual feast."
Joy from love is a bubble around you. Be joyous even when there is no reason to be joyful and you will be invincible. Ask God for the gift of cheerfulness. A soft answer turns away anger. A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh.
If we enter situations caring that we will be affronted or treated rudely, we are making targets of ourselves -- while the opposite is true if we approach them with the humility of Jesus.
Remember, He said that if the world hated Him, it would also despise those who follow Him. At the same time, He demonstrated that we transcend it and neutralize the caustic nature of the world with love.
In fact, the rude behavior of others affords the opportunity to make big points with God, for Scripture tells us that it is easy to love those who love us but far tougher -- and more important to the Lord -- to love those who do not.
Approach people who are cold or rude or impatient with joy and it will disarm them. It is an antidote. Don't care about anything but how much you love a person and it will be impossible for them to insult you. A person with humility can not be slighted!
Instead, a humble person is witness to miracles. Your niceness will turn others nice!
Returning irritation with humbleness is using the currency of Jesus (instead of paying the devil), and no evil, however strong, and however invincible it seems -- even for a long trial -- will triumph over it in the end.
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