Break Through Unthankfulness: Thank God for an Extra Pen

Thursday, November 12, 2015

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Romans 12:18)

Several months ago, a situation arose where a woman and man got into an argument at work during a board meeting. The man came into the meeting, complaining as he walked through the door about how long the meeting would last. The woman who scheduled the meeting assured him that she wouldn’t take up too much of his time, as she knew his schedule was precious to him. He comes in, plops down into his chair and leads with a negative attitude. Why are we here? Why was this meeting called, etc. In the midst of the team explaining to the man the objective, the process and the help they would need from him to produce effectual results, he responded with irate words, confused gestures, and sighs of disdain.

The woman had had enough! In a moment of irritation for the way he was acting, she interjected and said, “You know, we are doing our best, but you’ve come in with an attitude, complaining before you walked in, and it’s as if you don’t want to help us.”

Boy, did that let out a firestorm. The man got upset at the woman for calling out something that was visibly making everyone uncomfortable, so they began going back and forth, yelling:

Man: what do you mean I have an attitude?
Woman: well, with your body language and tone, do you want to help us or not? You said that you would; now it seems like it’s a problem.
Man: (puts his finger in the woman’s face) You be quiet. I can’t believe you of all people would talk to me like this!
Woman: Don’t tell me to be quiet, or put your finger in my face. I’m just being honest with what I see, and here you are…(before she could finish her statement, the man says, “you know what, you don’t ever have to speak to me again.”
Woman: oh believe me, I won’t and don’t have to!

But that wasn’t true. She was a Christian, and she knew that if she were going to work on a team with this man, she would have to speak to him at some point or another. She was fairly new to the company and would need his help navigating the operating system that she was trying to learn. She would need to borrow something from him (expertise, time, experience) in order to help the team function better.

Have you ever been there? You’ve been so critical of someone, yet had to turn around and ask him or her for help? Maybe you forgot your pen and had to borrow one; perhaps you needed to ask someone to repeat something for clarity, even though you cut them off several times before, or perhaps needed a friend or family member to vouch for you, though you spurned them years ago.

God can turn any critical moment into a Christ message.

Sometimes we feel like when we make a mess, God should let us out of our situations with a pass because we’re Christians. We may pray to Him all day and ask for forgiveness for our responses, but we still have to face consequences. We may still have to interact with the very people of whom we’ve been critical!

A few days went past…the man would see the woman and look in the other direction. She, too, would even walk past and not speak. He would laugh with everyone else, but in keeping his promise wouldn’t speak to her. After awhile, she began feeling guilty for her critical spirit and wondered if she should say something. So, one day, the woman said, “good morning,” and the man looked in her direction then looked away, so she prayed: God, I was wrong for what I said in that board room. Did he have an attitude, heck, yeah? Did I have to call it out and try to prove my point, probably not? Lord, I am sorry for letting you down. When I should have been shining a light, I was blending in with the darkness. Please help me Lord to be cordial with my co-workers so that I can be seen as a vessel of peace, truth, and forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

After that prayer, the woman made up in her mind to apologize. Not because she was weak or that he was superior to her; but because her spirit was pricked concerning her critical words. She read and meditated on the scripture, Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” She thought, ah shucks, the scriptures are right. Even though I was critical (and even if he was too), it depends on me to be at peace.

That’s what being a follower of Christ is all about. 
It’s taking the high road, even when others take the gutter 
It’s speaking, even when others want to hold a grudge 
It’s being at peace even if others want to remain at war

She walked over, apologized for her actions, and acknowledged the critical nature of her words – how they could have made him feel. She didn’t expect an apology, nor for him to say you were right, I was wrong, let’s forget about it. She wanted her spirit right with God. She wanted to smooth over a nasty interaction with a peaceful appeal. She mentioned that even if he felt he didn’t have to speak, that it was fine with her, but her spirit wouldn’t allow her to go on like that.

The man shared that he was a Christian too, but that she was still wrong for her response and that she shouldn’t hold her breath waiting on him to speak.

Sometimes the person you hurt, may be the very person God positions to help you when you need something. 

It's time to start thanking God for these moments because they help us grow more gracious, humble, and forgiving. But if we want to break through the unthankfulness, we have to skip the criticism and begin to show Christ!

The woman still says good morning and smiles if she walks past; she doesn’t always go out of her way to speak, but if possible she makes an effort to be at peace with him. Sometimes he speaks, other times he acts as if he didn’t hear her. But that’s okay; not everyone is going to like you for doing the right thing.

Have you hurt your witness because you've been critical of someone? Do you wonder how you can start now leading them to Christ? God can help you restore what has been broken. Even though people may not forgive you, you can always forgive yourself and move on.

This Thankful Thursday it’s not too late to seek peace and pursue it. Today can be the day that you go in with your spirit right with God, and make amends with someone you’ve been critical towards! You can pray for their heart and thank God for grace to get things right. It won’t be easy, but we know for sure that it will be worth it... we have to at least make the effort!

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