". . . love your enemies, bless those who curse
you, do good to those who hate you, and pray
for those who spitefully use you and persecute
you . . . For if you love those who love you,
what reward have you? Do not even the tax
collectors do the same? And if you greet
your brethren only, what do you do more
than others?" - (Matthew 5: 44-47)
Learning to love is so hard. Here I think of myself as an easygoing person with a thick skin, and yet this morning I started off my day by snapping at the tech service rep who told me she could not send out a technician to fix my computer until Thursday (four days from now).
I was angry because I depend on my computer to earn my living so I can pay my bills. I was angry because she told me that if I upgraded to a business account (which would cost a great deal more than what I am paying now) they would have sent someone out right away. I was angry because I couldn't reason with her that if they could send someone out right away for people with a business account, obviously there were techs available who could come out to see me sooner. I was angry because the reason she said I needed a tech to come out was because she couldn't find the problem over the phone. I was so angry, that before I hung up I even told her she didn't sound like she knew what she was doing, and even made some threats about switching to another Internet service provider.
Well, after I had stewed for a while and realized it wasn't helping, I grudgingly decided to do what the phone tech had initially said to do (disconnect the modem and reconnect), just so I could prove her wrong. And oh, did I forget to mention that when she had told me to do it, I hadn't actually done it because it didn't make sense to disconnect and reconnect something that I had only just turned on? Well, guess what? When I took that one step of obedience, the problem was instantly resolved, just like she had implied it would be.
I felt so ashamed of my outburst and rebelliousness. I thought of how I had recently asked the Lord to help me learn how to love like Jesus, and whenever I have prayed to learn anything--like patience, strength to stand against the enemy, whatever--the tests and trials start to come. The tech rep incident had just been a test, a test I failed, and a test that showed me how easily my buttons can still be pushed. Next time I need to be more alert to what is happening. And for sure there will be a next time, maybe even sevceral of them, until the lesson is learned.
After I repented and told the Lord I was ready for the next go round, the Scripture I quoted at the top of this post came to mind, in particular the line, "And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others?" Hmm. I hadn't thought much about that part.
The head property manager of my complex has been rude and unreasonable on several occasions, even to the point of acting unjustly, and since I have been powerless to do anything about it if I want to stay in my apartment (which I do), I have retaliated by ignoring her presence whenever I see her. Although I never consciously thought of it as retaliation, I now see that's exactly what it is. And so who is the one being hurt by this? Has it not just been a way to keep my grievances against her alive?
I thought of how rebellious I had been when the tech told me to disconnect the modem this morning. I was so sure I knew better and it would be a totally annoying and unnecessary step. And yet, when I relented and obeyed, the problem was resolved. So what does that tell me? It's a good idea to obey the instructions of a more knowledgeable person, no matter how petty or insignificant those instructions may seem, and surely the God of the universe who created me and even provided me with a "product manual" to help troubleshoot the problems I encounter in life, is the ultimate authority for fixing what ails me.
God's Word tells me that the best solution for anger is to "pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." And that does not mean pray for revenge, but pray for their good. That may hurt my pride a bit, but when I am willing to give in and just do it, it definitely has a way of softening my heart and taking the sting away like nothing else has been able to do.