My years supervising in the fabrication area while working for Hewlett Packard and their spin-off Agilent Technologies has played a little havoc on my ears. It would seem that background noises now tend to interrupt my ability to hear clearly. In fact, I have to fight the urge to get easily annoyed when these disturbing noises persist for any length of time. A prime example would be this morning as I was attempting to confess healing scriptures over my wife.
The grounds maintenance team showed up earlier than usual and the quiet reverence of our morning was broken by the roar of the zero turn lawn mower whizzing by outside our large bedroom window! As I began to raise my voice to overcome the chatter though, I suddenly broke into laughter. Previous to coming into the bedroom I had been studying from Philippians 4:4-5 where Paul is encouraging his readers to “always be joyful” and to “show a gentle attitude toward everyone.” (Good News Bible)
Well, first of all, at that moment I was not in a joyful mood, nor was I entering into a gentle attitude! When I looked up the Greek intentions of the phrase “gentle attitude” or “moderation” as the King James Version puts it, I learned that it means “a refraining from something, patient enduring, and an abstaining from the enforcement of a right.” (Vincent Word Studies/Dictionary.com) Other commentaries describe it as a response that is “unwilling to litigate or contend, meekness under provocation or considerateness which is the attitude of thought which in the embrace of others forgets self and yields up the purely personal claims of self.” (Clarke’s and Cambridge)
At that moment when the irritating noise of the lawn mower buzzed by our window and I was trying without success to yell over it, I realized that when we respond to others with whom we may not agree in such a way that is judgmental and/or critical, we become just like the uncomfortable disturbance caused by that roaring machine! And not only was it uncomfortable and a bit painful to me, it also caused me to be distracted from my purpose of blessing and fortifying my wife with the living and active Word of God!
That revelation made me sit back on my hunches and think for a moment. How many times have I caused that in others? How many times have my self-righteous attempts to quickly correct what I have perceived as a wrong in others actually hurt them and possibly set their faith adrift? Having vividly experienced this in the course of our battle for my wife’s health, I KNOW how emotionally disturbing and painful it can be… and I would NEVER wish it on anyone else… but yet, I HAVE been just as guilty of this reaction toward others in my past. WHOA! Lesson learned – would ya think!
I like the simple way that the Message Bible says it: “Celebrate God all day, everyday. I mean revel in Him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.” I don’t think that this implies that we even have to fully agree with them, but that we are willing to put “the me” aside, work with them and thereby give God the freedom and ability to make any changes that He may see as necessary.
As I looked at the entire section of scripture in Philippians 4:4-8 this morning, I suddenly realized that each of these verse is predicated by the previous one. In the case of Philippians 4:5, we’ll most likely find it easier to be successful in the heat of the moment to yield to another individual when we are already walking in the joy of the Lord! Makes sense doesn’t it? When our lives are ear-marked by our joyful trust in Him, it is only a natural response to reach out to another during a distressful situation with love rather than in judgment. Right?
So, give it a shot today! Put your joy on and go out and express His love to those you might not even agree with… nor even like! Have a great day. Stay in tune and in harmony to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or whom am I expecting to not judge but love on today?”