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Is it time for change? Sometimes it’s hard to understand why children act they way they do. You teach them a principle and repeat it consistently, yet they still tend to ignore what you believe to be in their best interest. This defiant behavior, which is not always intended to be such, can frustrate a person to no end!
Maybe you haven’t had this experience with children, but you can relate when it comes to a spouse, relative, or a friend. You expect someone who cares for you to honor a request you make repeatedly, right? When our demands, I mean requests, are glossed over, we begin to write the person off as not caring. Instead of turning the other cheek, we reflect the same behavior back, hoping to teach a lesson and earn an apology.
Although this cat & mouse game can get old, it operates day in and day out. That is until one day when we get a disconcerting phone call revealing one of the following: a death, a serious accident or maybe a faraway move. Suddenly you would give anything to see that same child who consistently dropped their sippy cup, the spouse who refused to take out the trash, or the friend who never gave you more than ten minutes notice before showing up on your doorstep.
Why do we have to wait for tragedy to strike before we can take proper perspective and realize this life isn’t about us after all?
We believe that if others treated us better, we would in turn be better individuals. It’s like in high school when I used to believe that if I only had a boyfriend, my life would all of a sudden make sense and I would be a happier person. In reality, if I had been a happier, more secure person initially, then I would have had a better chance of having a boyfriend!
The key lies in where one derives that security…
Matthew chapter 5 warns us against pointing out the spec in our neighbor’s eye before we deal with the log in our own. This type of outward focus is simply an indicator of self-centeredness. Jesus says that in order to follow Him, we must first die to ourselves. This doesn’t mean living a pitiful, martyr’s life, but instead following His two greatest commandments: to love God and love others. When your life mission centers around these two principles, you begin seeing people in a new light, as God sees them:
You become less focused on what they think about you and more concerned with how you can help them see themselves through God’s eyes.
You worry less about what they can do for you and more about what you can do for them.
The amazing thing is that through this transformation of heart, you actually become someone people want to serve. People find themselves wanting to know how to get the same light you have. They want to hang around you more because of the higher hope you have.
Believe me, I have not perfected any of this (except for maybe the critical attitude!). It is a simple truth of life God continues to reveal and work on in me. If we’ve learned nothing else as we reflect on the tragedy of 9/11, let us not take anyone or any day in our life for granted.
Tomorrow is not guaranteed; today is all we have.
Let those you love know how you feel; take steps to reach out to those you haven’t loved on, but know you should. “Whatever you do for the least of these, you do unto me…”. We may not be able to change the world today, but we can start the process by changing ourselves.