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Categorized | From the Pulpit

Your reaction shows your Christianity

Your reaction shows your Christianity

Reverend Lee Zabrocki

Resurrection Lutheran Church

180 Northland Dr., Sand Lake

Jesus said in Matthew 5:43-44, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”

Jesus not only taught this message, He lived it. Jesus experienced misunderstanding, ingratitude, and rejection. But he was never bitter, discouraged, or overcome. To Him, every obstacle was an opportunity.  

Brokenheartedness? An opportunity to comfort. Disease? An opportunity to heal. Hatred? An opportunity to love. Temptation? An opportunity to overcome. Sin? An opportunity to forgive.  His uncommon response to the everyday problems caused those around Him to ask, “What manner of man is this?”  

Long ago I learned that the truth of a man is known not by how he acts when he is in control, but how he reacts when things are beyond his control.

How do we react when criticized? There is always someone in the crowd who will criticize. The way some people find fault you would think they get paid for it. Many people have been hurt under the banner of constructive criticism. Someone once defined such criticism in this way:  constructive criticism is when I criticize you; destructive criticism is when you criticize me.  

Whether criticism is unjust or just, a person shows his true colors by how he responds. The best way to lose an enemy is to treat him like a friend. It would help each of us to realize that there are times we make errors and display shortcomings. In our relationship with our Heavenly Father we do not need justice; we need mercy. In our relationships with others we should be quick to give mercy and slow to demand justice.

When tempted to react in an unchristian manner, we should remember the following statements:

Realize that everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Their life is no easier than yours. Perhaps today they are lonely, misunderstood, and hurt. A sure indication that a person hurts inside is what he says on the outside. Others may hurt you by what they say or do because they are hurting.

Reacting in a positive, reassuring manner will product better results. Some time ago, while driving on a city street in California, another car hit me. The lady who hit me was frightened and apologetic. I assured her that I had excellent insurance coverage and I encouraged the policeman not to give her a ticket, which he agreed to. I made a friend out of the lady who hit my car. How? By a positive reaction to a negative situation.

There is no better way to witness for Christ than by your Christian reactions. The fruit of the Spirit, as listed in the Bible, is not to be displayed only during the easy times. These attributes are given so that they will become a part of our daily life and be in evidence even when things go wrong. If someone is hungry and becomes irritable toward you, give him a piece of bread and butter. That is showing kindness. But while you are giving your friend a Christlike reaction, why not spread a little jam on it? That would be loving-kindness. That is the right reaction. That is also genuine Christianity. 

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