Monday, May 18, 2009

Are there people in your world that just plain bug you? Is there someone who is your “thorn in the flesh?” Is there someone who frustrates you, rains on your parade, or tries to ruin your day? You are not alone! Almost all of us have dealt with annoying people in our personal or professional life. “Annoyers” are people who have personalities, habits, and behavior patterns that you find irritating. Unfortunately, some of us have dealt with adversaries as well. Some adversaries see you as an obstacle to getting something they want. Emotional adversaries are needy people who suck the energy out of others. They often pout, gossip, and play power games. Then there are really difficult adversaries who clearly don’t like you and can even be vengeful. The way we respond to these “annoyers” and adversaries is a measure of our patience, self-discipline, and even our spiritual maturity.

I have struggled with how to deal with both annoying people and with adversaries in my life. My dad always says, “Kill ‘em with kindness.” Some of you might say it would be easier just to implement the first two words of that adage! Then again, that’s not the Christ-like thing to do, is it! In the past week it seemed everywhere I turned someone was sharing a story with me about an adversary. During thesame week one scripture passage was presented to me three different times: twice on the radio and once in my daily devotional book.

If you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another. Galatians 5:15

The word bite means to thwart or frustrate or ruin. Think of it as “sinking your teeth into someone.” Ouch! In other words, if someone “bites” us and we “bite” back, we are in danger of being totally consumed by conflict. To further see the point Paul is making, we need to look at the scripture before and after this verse.

Love your neighbor as yourself. Galatians 5:14

Paul cites Jesus’ second commandment to us. Then he goes on to warn the Galatians in verses 16-26 not to follow the desires of the flesh but to walk by the spirit. Our flesh tells us to “bite” back, but the spirit tells us to be filled with the fruits of the spirit.

In his radio broadcast last week, Louis Palau talked about “Shalom.” This Hebrew greeting means “peace” and was said as people met or departed from one another. Palau reminds us that shalom is more than the absence of conflict. It is what we wish for our children. Shalom is the best. It is success. It is the most complete GOOD that we can imagine. It’s easy to want shalom for those we love, but wanting that for our adversaries is another story, isn’t it!

Straight from the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:44 we read, ‘But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” How can we love and pray for someone who is against us? It goes against our nature!

This week …
Let’s think on the word “shalom.”
Then let’s imagine the peace that we desire for ourselves and those we love.
Let’s pray for God to grace us with shalom.
Then let’s face the biggest challenge.
Let’s pray for our enemies, our “annoyers,” our adversaries
Let’s pray shalom on their lives.
Finally, let’s pray for God to change our hearts because we can’t change others; we can only change ourselves.



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