James 1:2-4 – 2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. (HCSB)
I once heard a story about a sales associate at a small corner shop. She is a friend of mine. She told me how there was this customer who would come in and be disruptive, constantly complain, and aggravate all of the sales clerks. He was a mean man who came into the store with the sole purpose of buying candy and causing the workers pain. It seemed that he almost derived some joy from it.
However, my friend who worked there, she decided to disarm him with kindness. She answered all of his questions, greeted and spoke to him with a smile, and always gave this mean man her best. Slowly, but surely, he became softer and softer. Soon, there was no yelling, no disruption, and no more aggravation. He would come in, buy his candy, and quietly leave. One day, he came in announcing that he was moving and that he would miss his “friends” especially my friend. He brought her a card to thank her and that he would miss their conversations.
I have seen this happen in my own life as well. As the Bible says, “consider it great joy” some preachers call it “rejoicing in your circumstances.” I have met many people who were abrasive at first, but I disarmed them with a loving word, a listening ear, or just having a smile on my face. Slowly, but surely, we would become acquaintances and even in some cases, we would become friends. It is a satisfying feeling when you see the love of Jesus penetrate someone’s heart and bring two people who were at odds together.
What about the people whom this does not work? Now, it is true that this is a rare thing, but they are out there. These folks seem to respond to kindness the way most people respond to the flu. The whole “disarming with kindness” only seems to give them more cannon fire and they only take advantage, making you look like a fool. They could be a neighbor, a co-worker, a relative, or maybe even someone you know at church. No matter how much kindness you show them, they come at you and continue to pour on the vitriol.
It is difficult to rejoice in your circumstances when you face a barrage of hurt brought on by these pain mongers. What does the Bible say about dealing with these people? If you look at the life of Jesus, He always welcomed them and spoke to them. He did not shy away from being firm at times, but he never changed when it came to sharing the love.
Check out the story of Zacchaeus in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 19. He was a tax collector who cheated people and forced them to pay more than they were required. Because of this, he was a reviled piece of human garbage to his community. However, after only one meeting with Jesus, he repented and gave back to everyone he had stolen from, some giving back ten times what he owed them. He represents the first person, someone who was changed by Jesus showing him kindness.
Now, check out the story of the rich, young ruler. He was bound by his wealth but still wanted to follow God. When Jesus told him that he lacked one thing, to give up his love for his money and his riches, he walked away, unchanged and sad. When the disciples saw this they said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. With God, all things are possible.”
It is hard when the person does not want to change, but keep your love on. Jesus told us that they with God, all things are possible. It will be hard and no doubt, some will not change. Do not let them change you. You stay strong and remember that Jesus has got your back.