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All scriptures are taken from NKJV unless otherwise marked.
“Depart from evil and do good.”
How are you feeling today? Did you wake up refreshed? Or did you have a hard time sleeping last night? Was it easy getting ready today or frustrating? And other people, how have they treated you today? All these things affect us, but the way to conquer those things is by keeping a good attitude. Things don’t have to be perfect (in fact, they never will be) for us to display the fruit of goodness. It’s a decision that we make. Decide, “I’m going to treat people good regardless of how I feel.”
I think it’s easy to forget the degree of Jesus’s sufferings. We remember him on the cross, but that was the end of His sufferings. The journey to the mount was way worse. His family tried to kill Him. The religious people of His day constantly plotted how they might overtake Him and kill Him. He lost a large portion of His followers when He told them He was the Living Bread and Water. John the baptist doubted Him. When Jesus needed His disciples to pray with Him and while He was sweating blood, they were snoozing away. One of His disciples betrayed Him and sold Him out for thirty shekels of silver. One of His best friends (someone who witness the transfiguration on the mount) denied Him.
He was beaten. They blindfolded Him and hit his face. Then, at the only hope of being released the town’s people shouted for the release of a murderer instead of Jesus. He was assigned to carry His own cross up a hill. Upon fainting, they appointed Simon to help Him. He was on the cross for 6 hours. That’s 360 minutes! He didn’t curse anyone or plot for revenge…. He just prayed for them.
“He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.”
Jesus understood pain. He understood emotional pain, rejection and betrayal. He was whipped and scourged. The Bible says, “his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness.” The crown of thorns weren’t placed on His head, they were forced INTO His head.
So whyyyy am I talking about the suffering of Jesus? Because despite all His sufferings, He remained good and true to people. He spent His entire ministry caring for others: feeding them, healing them, raising them from the dead, casting out demons, and teaching them. This was not a man without Spiritual fruits, He was full of them. He never gave up either. When the multitude stopped following Him, He focused His ministry on the twelve who stayed. How can we produce the fruit of goodness even on our worst days?
The quickest way to feel better about ourselves is to do something for someone else. Jesus said He came to serve and not to be served. (I mean, He washed His disciples feet.) Ask God to reveal someone to you who has a need that you can meet. He’ll show you. If you’re out somewhere and you see a person with a clear need (like an elderly person who needs a case of water), then offer to help. It really does make you feel great. Their appreciation for you is real. Or if the person in front of you at checkout is short of their total, offer to pay the difference. Just be watchful. You’ll be surprised how many people are in need of simple, everyday things.
No matter how different we are, we all have one thing in common: No one enjoys being lied to. We love authentic people who will be honest with us. When someone seeks advice from you, be respectful, but be real. Tell them the truth, even if it’s a hard pill to swallow. Start off with their strong traits, say the bad thing, then end with another good trait. Something like this, “Lucy, you have a beautiful heart, but you can’t help everyone. By taking on more than you were designed to handle, you can cause tremendous stress and heartache to yourself. You’re gonna have to start handing things over to God. I really just want to see you happy again and this current situation will keep you upset. Put all that energy you’ve been using to help change that person into prayer. Then, you’ll see amazing results!”
Notice how I complimented the condition of her heart, mentioned her problem with trying to fix people, and ended with great advice and why (because I want to see her happy). You don’t have to be mean or unloving when you edify people. We should build them up instead of tearing them down.
Next time you’re asked for advice, stop and pray first. Ask God the correct way to handle it. Tell Him to point out the good qualities of this person and how you can soften the blow. Because we all know that no matter how good your intentions are, if you don’t say it with the right tone or attitude, it can turn ugly.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”The #1 thing we can receive from someone is their trust.” quote=”The #1 thing we can receive from someone is their trust.”]
Be A Blessing
Start listening to what people say. People speak their needs (and wants) all the time. They love to talk about themselves. Start making a list of the things you hear people share. Maybe Sharon casually tells you that she recently bought a new vanilla scented candle and every time she comes home from work, it relaxes her. It reminds her of her mom (who lives far away). You can say something like, “That’s cool. Where did you get it from?” She might respond, “The Yankee Candle shop. ” Then, you can jot down in your smartphone, “Sharon loves Vanilla Yankee Candle.” Guess what she’s getting for Christmas? And she’ll love it! (You could go the extra mile and steal a pic of her and her mom off of Facebook and customize the candle with their picture. She’d probably cry!)
That’s how I prefer to shop for people for birthdays and Christmas. I’ll say something like, “I just bought this new Garnier Aloe Shampoo and I love it! (I really do!) What’s your favorite shampoo?” They might answer, “I love the pink Pantene bottles.” Then, you can make them a care basket, with their favorite Pantenes, a loofah, soap, and a pink towel.
Or maybe you’re doing well financially and a friend of yours (who isn’t) just had a mishap with their phone. It’s completely shattered, but they have no choice but continue using it until they can afford a new one. You ask them, “When you do have enough money, what kind of phone are you getting?” They say, “I love this phone that I currently have. They recently released a newer model out, so if I can afford it I’ll get that one.” How about you go buy them their new phone? You know they’ll be thankful and use it everyday for the next few years.
Ariel, that’s fine and all, but I don’t have extra money to buy someone stuff. I get it. (Currently, neither do I.) When’s the last time you went through your closet? There may be something in there that can be a blessing. How about that purse you bought last year and only used once? It’s just decaying there, give it to a person that would use it daily. I’m sure you have a lot of stuff lying around the house that could be used as a blessing.
Also, it’s good to note that you don’t have to only bless those you know, but strangers as well. In my city, we have something called the ‘community closet’. It’s a place where anyone can come, give clothes, take clothes; all for free! They’re used of course, but how awesome is that? Just show up on Wednesday morning and look for clothes that you need. Find places like this that you can donate to. I’ve found some AWESOME stuff there. Stuff that would cost a whole lot in the store that fits me so nicely! The people who donated those articles definitely blessed me and I’m still thankful.
The other things on this list could be fun to carry out, but this one will always be unenjoyable. Life is simply not fair at times and humans can be so cruel to one another. How are we to forgive the people who have hurt us? A tip that has always helped me is to remember all the things I’ve done to God that He forgave me for. I’ve hurt constant people and I lived such a wicked life before Christ. Thank God for His amazing grace.
Another piece of advice is one that God spoke personally to me when I was dealing with forgiving someone who hurt me. He said, “They didn’t sin against you, they sinned against Me.” That was a really hard one for me to grasp. These people who hurt me did it deliberately. They purposed in their heart to hurt me, call me names, try to defame me; it was nasty! How could people be so evil? Although they did wrong to me, they really sinned against the Lord. I just happened to get in the way of their wickedness.
My other bonus tip for you is to start in a broad place. One of my first prayers for an enemy is for God to save them. No one (no matter the sin) should go to Hell. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was temporary. Like, okay you’re gonna suffer for 100 years, and then you’ll be free. No, eternity is forever. These poor souls will never get out of torture. I read a really great book about a believer who God personally showed Hell to for the sake of spreading the word of how it truly is. If you’re interested in the book, click here. I definitely recommend reading that book if you’re struggling with praying for your enemies. As you begin to pray for their salvation, your heart for them will grow and soon you’ll be praying for other areas.
Remember that our enemy is not other humans. They’re just pawns in the game. The real enemy who’s after us is Satan and his minions. I like to think of evil people as victims who are without knowledge. I don’t blame them or hate them. Instead, I pray for them. In their mind, they’re doing what they think is correct. If someone truly knew the truth that sets free, they’d live a whole lot differently. Even Satan worshipers are deceived into believing that he loves them. He hates everything that God loves and he’s after us to hurt God. We need to pray for all people.
I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to show goodness to people. I hope you start implementing the ones I gave you starting today. If we want to see change in the world, we have to be the change. Good luck everyone and God bless.