The gifts and the callings of God are without repentance. If He has anointed me to write, I will write, and He will use me. But if I cannot treat people with kindness, value, and worth, if I have a habit of hurting or ignoring others, or treating others as if they are beneath me; if I am impatient and quick-tempered, my ministry to those closest to me, those who know me best, those within my circle of influence, is null and void. I have become a hypocrite and am no better than the Pharisees and Sadducees Jesus condemned in Matthew 16.
No matter how beautiful the words I weave, how I treat others speaks of the true state of my heart. I can compose the most angelic, poetic sonnet or blog post ever written, proclaiming the goodness of God and His outlandish love and acceptance of each and every one of us regardless of who or what we are; I can write about how we ought to treat others with care – how words can wound, and attitudes can sting, and how we should take great care in what we say and do; but if others have been wounded by my tongue, or my disdain for their station in life, or my dismissal of them as a fellow traveler on this journey, they and others who have quietly watched my life will have a hard time taking anything I say seriously. It will sound like nothing but empty words – like sickening, sugary syrup dripping off the tongue of a flatterer whose only desire is for the approval of men.
If I embrace everyone with kindness, as equals, and welcome them with open arms – if others feel loved and important in my presence, then when the Holy Spirit has something to say through me, those who need to hear it are more likely to listen, and my words become an offering to the Lord instead of a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
Love is patient. It has time for someone who needs a kind word or a listening ear
Love does not selfishly promote itself. It points out and celebrates the successes of others.
Love does not believe itself to be above its fellow man – it associates with the lowly.
Love does not point out the flaws of others for the purpose of lifting itself up. It sees the good in them and rejoices over it.
Love does not become jealous when others are blessed. It celebrates God’s goodness on their behalf.
Love does not insist on its own way. It gives preference to others and honors them.
Love is not fake. It is direct and honest and always full of grace for the hearer of truth.
Love does not listen to rumors. It believes the best.
Love does not give up on the wanderer. It hopes – and hope does not disappoint.
Love does not leave. It stays – even when there seems to be no reason left.
If I want to impact others around me with the Gospel of Jesus Christ; if I want to bring light and hope into a world full of darkness and fear; if I want to be an instrument of healing and grace for a world full of heart-ache and hurt; if I want to be used in any way at all, then the restoration must first begin in my own heart and mind.
I must ask the Lord to search me and cleanse me from any sinful attitudes I have toward those around me. I must start by being kind to those closest to me – first my family; then my church family and co-workers; then those I come into contact with in my circle of daily life; even the stranger standing in line at the grocery store or bank. If I cannot first love all of these the way Christ has called me to, then I cannot reach any further. If my words of love and healing and restoration and peace begin their work any further away than in my own heart and relationships, then I am nothing but a hypocrite, and the truth of God is not in me.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. ~Psalm 139:23-24
Linking up today with Kelly Balare and friends at purposefulfaith.com