Those of us who are parents know how powerful the expression on someone’s face can be. The first time your child rolls their eyes at you as you enlighten them regarding their behaviour is revolutionary. The inside thoughts suddenly appear on the outside. The ‘little angel’ you have been talking to for years with a complete assurance that they are listening and absorbing every word reveals that perhaps they have actually been thinking something completely different.
Kids are amazing like that, they reveal everything on their faces – love, hate, sadness, anger, delight, pain. As we grow older we produce the stoic mask that we wear in public. The less we reveal the less we can be hurt. As Christians, we are to live transparent lives and I shared about that a few weeks ago when my memory verse was Romans 12:9.
However, I had to stop and think about this recently. What face do we show when we are trying to be loving to someone who is wrong in their attitude towards us, is ‘persecuting’ us in some way? Think about this from the opposite side for a minute. Have you ever been really nasty to someone and all they do is look at you with that love that seems to scream ‘condescension’? At least that’s the way it makes me feel. You know, it’s that self-righteous look that says ‘poor thing, I’m better than you and I’ll prove it by being loving’. It drives me mad, blows on the flame of my anger and increases it tenfold.
Funny thing, as I considered this topic and wrote that last paragraph, I started to realise something: when I was the one being ‘got at’ the last thing on my mind was being ‘self-righteous’ or condescending. The first and foremost thing was ‘God help me please.’ I needed Him so desperately to give me the grace to hold onto what He said I should do. I wasn’t trying to correct the other person I was trying to make sure I held myself to what God says.
So wrestling with this for a few days, turning over what I should look like, what expression on my face so that I don’t make the situation worse but also so I don’t present a false image – that I am true to what God is doing, has done.
5 Keep your gentle nature so that all people will know what it looks like to walk in His footsteps. The Lord is ever present with us.
This verse was my study this morning – how good is God to pop that verse down right where I needed it? The Truth is that I am not responsible for the reactions of others. I am responsible for my actions to always act in love. If I do that, if I speak or stay silent as I am directed by His Spirit then I’m not to blame for the reactions of others. It’s better for them to get angry because I am ‘good’ than because I am angry too. I hate that sentence because I want to be responsible for everyone else as well as myself but the truth is I can’t be. How could I be?
Knowing when to speak and when to be silent takes a great ear to listen first so I get my instructions from the One who can make a difference for the situation. Back to the question about what look should be on my face. It has to be love. Not smug pity or self-satisfaction but real affection, real interest, real hurt, real sorrow the real emotions I am feeling as I give the situation to God. I suspect it gets easier at some point to take the deep breath of Holy Spirit awareness but as I am not anywhere near anything except a hot choking feeling as I try to swallow angry words I have to hope that is true.
It’s likely my ‘face’ will spur more anger, my silence too as I have conditioned people around me to expect anger. When I am calm and loving then conscience will prick them and as I know from my experience that increases their rage. It doesn’t change my duty. I have to keep breathing the Holy Spirit and let the fruit keep blooming. Hard but not impossible because He’s not going to abandon me to do it alone.
Breathe deep today and let Him flood all of your being, every cell. Let’s be loving in every situation and circumstance, gentle so people can see Jesus in us.