Resolution or Restoration?
“And be ye kind to one another…” Ephesians 4:32a
It was between Christmas and the New Year. I was praying for the Lord to speak to my heart a word from Him—a specific word and scripture of something he wanted to refine in me in the upcoming year. It’s a tradition the Lord put in my heart to carry over the years, versus having a “resolution”.
Nothing came right away. As I was scrolling through Facebook, a friend had posted her results from a Dayspring quiz she had taken. It was something along the lines of “Find Your word from the Lord that he wants you to know.” I laughed to myself. Right. This social media quiz is going to speak for the Lord. Well….
I took it. I didn’t like the “word” it gave me.
I took it again. Same result.
My “word” was completely different from my friend’s “word,” or the “words” of those who commented their results. I was too embarrassed to publish mine. I even argued with God—and myself—about it.
Then I prayed. Lord, is this what you want to speak to my heart for this New Year? The next day it was confirmed by my husband, who noticed my unkind response to something. He said to me, “You know, I think you need to work on being more kind in your response and delivery.”
I hadn’t said a word to him about that quiz or my petition of the Lord. I looked up at him surprised and shared the details. He said, “You are a friendly, giving person, but being kind is not always a strength that shows when you are annoyed.”
Well, I don’t want that—and neither does God. It was a painful truth, and I had to confess it and get help from the Holy Spirit in order to get it eliminated. I needed him to make me aware of it—to be cautious of my facial expressions and give me self-control over my immediate/knee-jerk responses. Believe me it’s a whole new re-training of self.
Years ago, I used to tell my husband, “This is the way God made me and people have to accept me or not.” Wrong! God made me in his image and, as his child, he wants to restore me to that perfect image.
But I was born into the world where sin—uncorrected bad habits, habits developed in my childhood, learned behavior from influential adult role-models, responses to hurts—in addition to the worldview projected through television, movies, books, etc.—distorted my view of what God has to say.
My being anything but kind and loving, is self-centered not Christ-centered, and it’s sin. It is hurtful, though my heart may or may not intend hurt towards anyone. God is in the business of transforming me from the inside out—into his image—so I can be a sweet aroma of Jesus to those I come into contact with. Its all about him, not me.
This is definitely easier said than done. People often aren’t kind. They are rude, they are invasive, self-focused.
“I am not meant to be a doormat,” was another response I found myself repeating. However, I can show kindness simply by being quiet and let God work out a matter. After all, he is much better at it than I am.
He does not expect me to be trampled upon as a door mat. There are times when I must speak up for the truth itself, or on behalf of those who are oppressed, but it requires not being mean-spirited. It requires going to him with my thoughts, emotions and motives—and applying his truth-filter on all given matters (1 Corinthians 10:5).
After confessing and handing over this area to the Lord, I asked him to show me practical ways to accomplish this kindness thing. He whispered another word to my heart. “Pause”. If I would just “pause” before responding— tap into him and hear the Holy Spirit speak to my heart—then I could avoid being misread or misunderstood and I would not respond in an ungracious manner with sharp words.
It’s true, the world is filled with lots of sinners like us—so unpleasant at times. We aren’t being the “sweet aroma of Jesus” when we are the “correction police” and do not extend kindness, graciousness, long suffering, mercy, and patience (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Some people are just difficult to be around. That’s when we can “pause”—however long that pause needs to be—to get us into a right place about the situation. A pause gives us time to ask God to speak his truth to our hearts. We can take the time to find three things about that difficult person for which we can thank God, and have his heart towards that individual.
So, as I was asking God if he brought that quiz to my attention, he immediately gave me some scripture to back it up. (Always ask Him for confirmation. That way you are 100% sure its not you talking—its him.)
“ Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered; does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
God is still perfecting this area in my life. He is constantly teaching and revealing to me those things he wants to sanctify in me. It’s a matter of surrendering our hearts wholly over to his Lordship, so he can do that restoration in our lives.
In closing, he revealed to me how blessed I am to have so many beautifully kind sisters in Jesus to learn and glean from. Their influences in my life have made a big impact. Be sure to surround yourself with other women who are stronger in those areas in which you see yourself as weak.
by Coleen Jejeran, Missionary to Romania