By Rick Warren at http://www.pastorrick.com, April 2017.
(…continued) #4) And then, hold your tongue. When somebody angers you or does something that frustrates you, it’s really tempting to call someone else or send a text and say, “You won’t believe what they just did!” It may feel good to do that. But it’s not what God wants you to do.
Proverbs 17:9 says, “You will keep your friends if you forgive them, but you will lose your friends if you keep talking about what they did wrong” (CEV). If you gossip about that other person, you’re just adding fuel to the fire of any frustrations you feel.
What is gossip? One definition of gossip is “sharing information with somebody who is not part of the problem or part of the solution.” The person might not have had anything to do with it, but you bring them into it so you can feel better about yourself.
Let’s just be honest about it. Gossip, in its essence, is a form of retaliation. You’re trying to get back at the person who offended you by talking about them behind their back.
God hates it. Gossip is incredibly destructive. It’s destructive to churches. It is destructive to families. It’s destructive to businesses. And gossip just perpetuates the pain.
That’s why God says we should “encourage one another and build each other up,” looking for “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” in others (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Philippians 4:8 NIV).
#5) Stay out of the mud. Retaliation never works with EGRs (Extra Grace Required people). It tends to escalate whatever problem you’re encountering. You need to refuse to play their game.
EGRs love to argue and debate. They use conflict to get your attention. When people try to get your attention through conflict, they’re just trying to hook you. They don’t really care what you think. They’re just trying to pull you into their game.
Somebody once said, “If you wrestle in the mud with a pig, both of you will get dirty, but only one of you will enjoy it.” Stay out of the mud. Don’t get sucked into the argument. Just walk on by.
Proverbs 26:21 says, “Just as charcoal and wood keep a fire going, a quarrelsome person keeps an argument going” (NCV). EGRs love to keep the argument going. They find their meaning, their purpose, and their value by getting you upset. Don’t play their game. Don’t get drawn into it. They’re not looking for answers. They’re just looking for an argument.
How many people does it take to argue? It takes two, right? If one of them walks away, what happens to the argument? It ends. The fire goes out. Sometimes the most merciful thing you can do is walk away from the argument.
#6) The final step is to always take the high road. We all have EGRs in our lives. They annoy us, anger us, frustrate us, and test us. But they also help us grow. God calls us to demonstrate mercy to all people — even those who cause us the most trouble.
Do what’s right, no matter what the EGRs in your life do. If they insult you, treat them with kindness. If they wear on your nerves or they’re too slow for your pace, treat them with patience. You cannot control what other people think about you. You cannot control what other people say about you. You cannot control what other people do to you. But you do have 100 percent control over how you respond.
The high road gives you clear perspective. When you take the high road, you can see past that person’s behavior to their pain. When you take the high road, you rise above the irritation and the conflict and choose to live in peace. You might be completely within your rights to retaliate, but the Bible says, “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13b NIV). You might have the perfect comeback, but the Bible says, “Do not repay . . . insult with insult” (1 Peter 3:9a NIV).
The classic chapter on this is Romans 12. Verse 14 says this: “Ask God to bless those who persecute you — yes, ask him to bless, not to curse” (GNT). This verse is the definition of mercy. You say, “Rick, I don’t have anybody persecuting me.” Then let’s cross out the word “persecute” and write in the word “irritate.” Ask God to bless the people who irritate you. Instead of asking God to judge them, ask him to bless them. This is what real love looks like. Real love doesn’t just love someone who’s lovable. That’s easy. Real love loves the unlovable. Real love is patient with the irritable people in your life. God empowers us to love even those we find hard to love.
Have mercy on me, O Lord, as I muddle my way through this sad world, on my way to you and your perfect home. I make myself miserable and my life difficult by my many sins. I create problems for others, and they create problems for me. We all have so much trouble getting along, always sinning and being sinned against. Give me the grace to forgive others and I have been forgiven by you, and may they receive the grace to forgive me as they have been forgiven by you. I pray this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for the forgiveness of all our sins. Amen.