People are not always good to us. Even when we are good to them, they are often ungrateful and unkind. This, of course, can be exceedingly hurtful. However, before we give in to bitterness and resentment and mistreat them in turn, we might want to ask a question: Do I want other people’s actions to define me, or do I want to be defined by my own actions?
If God ever asks us to account for our behavior on earth, he isn’t going to be concerned about how other people treated us, but how we treated other people. Trying to justify our nastiness by saying others were nasty to us won’t work because his instructions on the subject are clear: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45).
Why is there so much hostility in the world? Because we repay hate with hate, thereby creating an unending cycle of hatred. Only love can break the cycle, which means we should be good to people when they are bad to us. Because if we don’t, then we are as bad as they are! Therefore, as Luminata D. Saviuc advised, “Learn to treat people, not as bad as they are, but as good as you are.”
Most of us think of ourselves as good people, but our goodness is put to the test only when it is challenged. To quote Jesus again, “If you love those who love you, how great is that? Anybody can do that!” (cf. Matthew 5:46). We have to be good in the face of bad, even evil. Which brings us to the million-dollar question: how?
One, remember Jesus loved us when we were sinners or “bad people.” If he can love us when we are bad, then we can love others when they are bad as well, yes? Two, don’t fight people or resist them. Walk away from an unpleasant situation where people are being mean to you. Rest assured, you are *not* being cowardly; it takes courage to walk away from confrontation!
Three, when we walk away, we take the higher ground, becoming like eagles. Do not let people drag us down and make us like crows. Four, treat people with dignity, respect, and kindness at all times. This sets an example to those who are are treating us shabbily. Since we know better, we can do better!
Five, remember that people are intrinsically good. We are made in the image of God. Pain has corrupted that goodness, but love can bring healing and restoration. The only love they might ever get is yours! Six, forgive them and pray for them. The former makes us godly; the latter brings God into the picture. He can do wonders!