Passion

While I was at the Army exercise at the beginning of the month, I worked with the same group of people that I have been working with for almost 10 years. We have an intense desire to make sure that the training audience receives the most realistic experience that we can provide. I heard a new phrase this year after a “lively” exchange with an old friend. He said, “We are in violent agreement with each other”. Take a moment and re-read what I wrote – yes we were in agreement. Our discussion brought out our passion for doing a good job. It makes me wonder how many other times I get into violent agreements with people.

As human beings, we need to remain in control of our emotions and maintain awareness of how we react to things. I’m not one who usually “flies off the handle” but when I get to that point, I turn into a freight train. Passion is a good thing to have in life – in love, in commitment or to help others, etc. We must guard that passion when we get emotionally involved in issues; there is a difference between a passionate and an emotional response. Self-control starts with peace, patience, kindness, goodness and gentleness as a result of faithfulness. Peace and patience allow you to remain calm in the face of the issue. Kindness and goodness remind us that someone will be on the receiving end of our self-control (or lack of it) and those interactions should be gentle. People will respect you, you’ll respect yourself and you’ll glorify God with the gifts He has given you.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-23, 25

There is nothing like starting a week with a little self-reflection. How do you react to issues,  with passion or emotion? It is good to be reminded that the fruit of the Spirit or the essence of what the Holy Spirit has given us; lives within us. We don’t have to seek these things or learn them; God has given them to us. Jesus lived His life demonstrating them, God inspired the words written in the bible; all we need to do is study and practice them.

It’s okay to be happy (joy) and to get along with others (peace). Be patient and kind with everyone, even those who require a little extra effort. Your demonstration of goodness and gentleness are God pleasing and witness to your faith in the Word of God, above all. These fruits lead to more self-control and less frustration that will circle back to finding love, joy and peace in your life. God is amazing in how He ordered all of these “fruits” to work in support of one another in our lives. “Since we live in the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” is great advice to us for how to live our lives.

Kindness

I recently watched a TV comedy show in which one of the main characters, the husband, was asked by his wife to say five things that he liked about her. For men, we can instantly see the comedy potential in this premise. I’m sure the women are thinking that this is a brilliant bonding concept, but I digress. Predictably he struggles to come up with five things on his own but eventually, unconsciously, he does during the argument that follows. When we are forced to identify these types of things, we often freeze and draw blanks no matter who the subject is – a spouse, business partner, friend or family member. We never really understand how our words and actions affect those around us. What if your kind words were the only kind words that people hear in their lives? Would you go out of your way to speak them then?

There is a story called “The Blue Ribbon” that tells of a father who was given a blue ribbon by someone at work because they identified him as being important to them. He was the challenged to give the ribbon to someone else who was important to him. He struggled to find that one person, particularly at work and put the ribbon in his briefcase before heading home. Once he arrived home, he found his son sitting in his room as he walked by. He returned with the ribbon and gave it to his son, explaining what had happened that day. He explained that while their relationship hadn’t always been the greatest, he wanted him to know that he was special and important to him. The son started to break down uncontrollably. When he was able, he explained that he had been sitting there contemplating suicide because he thought that no one cared. Go out of your way today to speak a kind word to someone, you never know what your impact will be.

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Proverbs 12:25

There is a lot to be anxious about these days. I seem to be writing a lot about worry and anxiety but they are everywhere and can take over a person’s life. However, those strong in faith know to send those worries and fears to God in prayer. What about the other people in our lives who do not have the confidence or assurance to do that, what can we do to help them? Well placed kind words can mean a great deal to everyone we encounter. Last week we discussed compassion and leaving people feeling good after we see them. Consider this the warm up act for compassion. When we are simply nice, generous with ourselves and offer kind words to others, we will make a difference in people’s lives.

Jesus never spoke poorly about anyone, not even those trying to persecute and kill Him. He teaches us the real meaning of compassion. Jesus was always uplifting even in the face of terrible times. If we compare our lives to His, we have it pretty easy. Share your grace and peace with others as it has been shared with you. A kind word will cheer up an anxious heart.

Mistakes and Reactions

This weekend we saw some great NFL football games in the playoffs. Four games were played, four teams won and four teams lost. There were mistakes made, no doubt about that. I’m not talking about any game in particular but games are usually won because one team took advantage of someone else’s mistake. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Someone makes a mistake and the office jerk is not only quick to point it out but also then tries to take advantage of it. We all forget that post-it-notes were a result of someone’s mistake. How do you react when someone makes a mistake? I worked in an organization once that someone in HR got a little complacent and let a laptop get stolen with everyone’s personal data on it. The organization went crazy. People were calling for swift action and her head. I sent her an e-mail to tell her that it was just a mistake and tried to encourage her as best I could. I thought that she needed to know that not everyone was melting tar and gathering feathers. She remained employed and has always remembered my compassion. There was nothing that we could do about the data being stolen once it was gone. The organization took steps to help everyone and refocused attention on data security; it was the best we could hope for. People make mistakes all of the time. A baseball player who hits the ball 33% (.300 avg.) of the time is considered a great player. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that kind of productivity goal? So next time someone around you makes a mistake or you do; give them a little smile and let them know that it’s okay. The office jerk will get theirs in all due time.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

We always seem to make one mistake after another; breaking commandments left and right. How can we call ourselves Christians if we can’t live a life without sin? St. Paul would certainly have a thing or two to say about that. His first direction in this one verse as part of a letter to the Ephesians was “Be kind and compassionate to one another”. This is a great place to start. How you handle yourself with others is a good indication if the messages have gone to your core. My guess is that you are compassionate and caring toward others. You do your best to help when you can and pray for help when there is more than you can handle. We forgive and forget a lot more often than we give ourselves credit for. If you held on to every wrong against you, the weight of those emotions would be crushing. We forgive strangers everyday yet we find it hard to forgive those we love. We expect our loved ones to behave better than a stranger and when they don’t, we hesitate to forgive. Jesus Christ taught us to be patient with everyone, even loved ones. His own disciples were less than helpful at times yet He forgave them. God, Our Father in heaven who loves us so deeply, is compassionate with us even when we disappoint Him. All of our sins have been forgiven by Jesus’ death and resurrection, no exceptions. God forgives you for the sins that you have committed and those that you have yet to commit; that’s why we can call ourselves Christians. Go out and demonstrate God’s love through your faith in Jesus Christ, the world needs our kindness, compassion and forgiveness.