November 27, 2007

But I don’t want to be first . . .

In a passage that tells servants to obey their masters, even those who treat them harshly, God answers a problem I’m having—two thousand years later.

While I don’t have a master, I often feel like a slave. This isn’t all the time—but this week my attitude shifted from that of a servant motivated by love who does good for others to a doormat motivated by ‘what about my rights’ who sees others taking advantage of me.

Whoa! I know that people think the difference between these two positions has more to do with the treatment of other people, not my attitude toward that treatment, but I am learning that is not so. The person that I serve has not changed one iota during the entire time. No matter what I do, she is behaving and thinking the same today as she always has.

Maybe that is the problem. I want change. I’ve hoped that my kindness toward her produces change. It isn’t happening.

Instead, God is again telling me to change. This is what I read this morning from 1 Peter 2:19-23:
“For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth’; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
His words jump out at me, specifically these words: endures, patiently, do good, commit it to Him who judges righteously.

I feel like arguing with God, but that never gets me anywhere. He knows what is going on. He sees her heart and mine. He is quite capable of changing her to be more thankful, less thoughtless, more inclined to do something good in return. I know that, but I also know that He has His reasons for not changing her. Could it be that He wants to use her contrary spirit to take a whack at mine?

Jesus never fought back when people treated Him badly or unfairly. Instead, He did good things and trusted the results to His Father, even when those results were not very pleasant or even seemed terribly contrary to the will of God.

I’ve been through this ‘exam’ before, even with the same person. I know that it is not right to allow someone to sin against me. If I were being physically abused or something like that, genuine love for others would stop the other person from doing such a thing, not so much for my sake but for theirs. However, genuine love has to be free from all self-centered motives. God is concerned that I learn how to love that way, that I be like Jesus and be free from selfish reasons for what I do.

I’d like His priority to be that person. I’d like Him to ‘fix’ what seems to be extreme selfishness. She seems to take advantage of the good way she is treated, and I have started to resent her for it.

But God has another priority, at least for now. He is asking me to change my attitude, to ride it out, to go back to being patient, and just commit myself to Him. He knows. He will take care of that other person as soon as He is done taking care of me.


The Koala Bear Writer said...

Hmmm, yeah... Isn't it easiest to ask God to fix everyone else, and to ignore what He's trying to fix in us? And I like how you point out that the problem is often our own attitude... I'm guilty of that a lot. Loving and serving others isn't easy, especially when we as humans always seem to want something in return for what we do. :)

LC said...

Thanks for your encouragement. Somehow I expected comments that would argue with this! :-)