In my personal experience I have found it is much easier to act like a Christian than to react like one!
I can get up after my quiet time and go about my morning and my day. But the challenge, the real challenge that reveals the condition of my heart (my love for Christ and my personal growth) is reacting to something or someone who is critical, mean, accusing, sarcastic, judgmental, etc., especially when I don’t see it coming. That, for me, is when the “rubber meets the road” or “when my heart jumps out of my chest and onto a platter before me for all to see.” People can take a “card” on me and for sure I should take a “card” on myself.
Taking a “card” means watching a person’s actions, not their words. When you have around 5 to 6 cards from one person’s actions, you can make some really good observations about their heart and motives! You can really see the condition of your own heart or someone else’s when they are “squeezed”. My/their/our reaction reveals truth about the condition of my/their/our hearts.
Jesus wrote so much about what to do to condition our heart in reacting as a Christian when we are squeezed……
Pray for those who persecute you–Matthew 5:44.
Love your enemies–Matthew 5:44.
Bless those who curse you–Matthew 5:44.
If someone forces you to go a mile, go with him two miles–Matthew 5:41.
If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also–Matthew 5:39.
Forgive 70 X 7–Matthew 18:22.
I wish I could say….I get an A+ here from God….but I don’t. I am working on it though. My natural/human/sinful reaction when I get slapped is to “slap right back!” Because I am aware of this in myself…it hasn’t been a fun time. Why? Because my prayer is to get better…to have a heart change and return good for evil….therefore… I have to be tested. :((((( A test gives me a grade. It reveals where I am or, better yet, where my heart is.
Recently, I had a very good friend who, in love, told me that someone hated me. My test? I was pretty stunned. Seriously. I bet I haven’t had two conversations with this “hater” in 20 years. I was absolutely dumbfounded! I have learned to immediately take it to God in prayer. I prayed…and I prayed some more…and I am still praying. As I have prayed, I have asked God to reveal what I might have done to this person…that could have initiated the “hate”. No response. No answer. But I have been praying for the “hater.” Funny, over the last several weeks…in my heart…I have developed a fondness for this person. It is a supernatural gift from God. I can honestly say that in my own strength…there would not be love, concern or “fondness”.
What I am learning is to allow persecution to inspire prayer which can lead to love and convert curses into blessings in our lives. The blessings may be unseen but just felt personally. The blessing of obedience brings a peace, a joy that only God can give. It can’t be manufactured by me/you/us!
I encourage you today…take a “card” on yourself. When you are squeezed, what is your immediate “reaction?” Take my advice…evoke the immediate response….to be “prayer!” Follow Jesus’ example when Peter denied his friendship with Jesus. Jesus’ words, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have PRAYED for you Simon, that your faith may not fail,” (Luke 22:31-32) [emphasis mine].
Seek to earn a higher grade for yourself…as a believer and lover of Jesus. Understand, if this becomes your intention and focus, there could be a test….because God does desire us…to become more like Him. The tests come to refine us into His “image”. Refining is a form of God’s pruning….and the end result of pruning is more “Fruit!”
“We are the Bibles the world is reading; We are the creeds the world is needing; We are the sermons the world is heeding.” ~Billy Graham