So I was working at the church this afternoon and 3 of our members were taking care of the lawn when one of them (an Elder) came in jabbering about something.  He was upset about an exchange that had just transpired between him and the next door neighbor to the church.  The neighbor had asked about a property marker (flagged wood stick) that was nowhere to be found and got upset with the Elder.  The Elder apologized and came inside to vent.  We spent a few minutes talking about the entire issue which was of no fault of ours and about how this thing and that thing should have been done by the neighbor or the survey company.

After thinking about it for a few minutes, I decided to go over and talk with our neighbor (It’s farm land that was deeded over to a daughter to build a house on.  The gentleman actually lived a few miles away.).  I introduced myself and apologized for the missing marker expecting him to still be irate over the issue.  His first response was to apologize for how he treated the Elder and for making a big deal out of something that wasn’t that big of a deal.  We proceeded to chat and I found out that he was having a bad day.  (In addition to his bad day, most men I know, including myself, get easily agitated when they are working hard on a project trying to get it done.)  I invited him and his grandsons (they were working on cleaning up the property) into the church for some refreshments.

The church members and myself completely wasted all the time spent talking about the issue.  Not only that, but the more we talked about it, the more we saw how right we were and how wrong the neighbor was.  All we needed to do was to be kind and gracious, even if we were in the right.  You see, being a Christian isn’t about being in the right, being a Christian is about being willing to give up your rights for somebody in need.  And chances are, everybody you come into contact with has a need.

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

By the way, we do a lot with youth, and I’ve already got our new neighbor kids in the building and they haven’t even moved in yet.


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This entry was posted on Saturday, August 9th, 2008 at 9:46 pm and is filed under Devotional. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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8 Comments(+Add)

1   Chad
August 9th, 2008 at 9:55 pm


Amen. Thanks for that word. It is amazing (though it shouldn’t be) that when we actually do what Jesus said we ought to do we often find Him. And grace happens.


2   merry    
August 9th, 2008 at 10:42 pm

Something like this happened to me yesterday. We were working, and my pastor was in an extremely bad mood. I couldn’t figure out why he was being so inconsiderate and impatient with me. Later, I found out that his sister had been just diagnosed with the worst stage of cancer, and he was flying out later that day to be with her.

Maybe I was right and he was the one being inconsiderate, but that wasn’t the point. He needed a lot of grace and kindness that day. It was a reminder to always be patient with everyone, because you don’t always realize the whole story until later. I only hope his sister will be okay.

3   Christian P
August 9th, 2008 at 11:06 pm

We often don’t know what is going on in somebody’s life (even when we know them well) that may be stressing them. Thank you Merry for the reminder from 1 Thess. 5 to be patient with everyone.

I wonder though if we don’t have degrees to which are willing to show grace. For instance, I think everybody would excuse Merry’s minister given the circumstances, but would we excuse or show grace to somebody for something a lot less severe or even less obvious? Maybe they are depressed, or maybe it’s been a series of small things over a long period of time, or maybe they haven’t slept in days. We cannot know these things, and so the onus is placed on us to be patient.

Another thought I just had is do we show grace only after we know the reasons for their attitude, or do we show grace in the midst of their attitude? I think showing grace in the midst is one of those sublte acts of bearing with one another’s burdens that we lose sight of.

Just some more thoughts.

4   Keith
August 10th, 2008 at 8:37 am

“do we show grace only after we know the reasons for their attitude?…”

Seems to be the case more often than not for me. I’m working on it. Good post–more like this one would be great. Very encouraging.

5   merry    
August 10th, 2008 at 4:24 pm

Back to the thoughts about always having to be right –

“25 How painful are honest words!
But what do your arguments prove?

26 Do you mean to correct what I say,
and treat the words of a despairing man as wind?”

-Job 6: 25-26

My associate pastor preached today on controlling one’s tongue, but he used this Scripture and I thought it was interesting because I’d never really heard it before. I thought it really went along well with this post. Being honest and right all the time isn’t always the best, especially when the person you are arguing with, as the verse puts it, is “despairing” . . . whether just having a bad day or going through a crisis. Again, it comes down to grace and patience.

On a different note, the pastor also used Jesus’ quote from Matthew 5 — “let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’, and anything beyond that comes from the devil.” I think it just goes along with the posts on this site lately in general, in light of the seemingly endless arguments that have been going on the past couple of weeks. There are several different sides to this verse, but I think it could mean that we should just state our sides of the argument and move on. Drawing things out on and on, and trying to be right or “win” or whatever really is from the devil.

It’s been interesting to me that recently the things I’ve been reading in the Bible on my own time, the things that have happened to me, the things I’ve been learning in church, in small group, on the internet, etc, have all connected somehow and have all been pretty much the same lessons. Complete coincidence? . . . Maybe not . . . ;)

6   Rick Frueh
August 10th, 2008 at 4:43 pm

“Christianity is the only religion that has at its heart the humiliation of its God.”

When will the followers of that God be ready for any and all humiliation for His sake? When we defend ourselves we forsake Him.

7   Christian P
August 10th, 2008 at 11:49 pm

Merry, you bring great thoughts to the conversation. I’ve really appreciatied the passages you bring up in many of your comments. I think the passage you quoted in one of your comments on “If You Loved God More You’d Practice More” fits well with this discussion.

8   merry    
August 11th, 2008 at 12:23 am

Then I’ll post it again here. :)

18 Like a madman shooting
firebrands or deadly arrows

19 is a man who deceives his neighbor
and says, “I was only joking!”

20 Without wood a fire goes out;
without gossip a quarrel dies down.

– Proverbs 26: 18-20

The last verse goes along with this post well.

I appreciate your articles, too, Christian. You should post more often! ;)

I’ve been noticing lately . . . you know how you can hold a mirror up to another mirror, and you’ll see a tunnel of mirrors that goes on forever? That’s what the Bible is like. It’s nice enough just on the surface . . . and then you start digging and it goes on forever! :) Amazing book.