Sunday, June 23, 2019

What Jesus Failed to Teach Us about Dealing with People

Imagine someone delivered a foolproof safe with a billion dollars inside to your home, but they failed to give you the combination to open the door…

What kind of frustration do you think you’d experience?

Would they have truly given you their wealth?

And how would you feel about possessing great riches but not being able to spend any of it?

That’s exactly what Jesus did, and I’ll tell you why…

He gave us his wisdom but never taught us how to use it.

He said, “Love your enemies; do good to them that hate you” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”.

He told us what to do, but did he tell us how to do it?

Where in the Bible does He explain the exact process or procedure whereby we may treat others the way we want to be treated?

It’s not there.

That instruction is glaringly absent.

Thousands of years before Christ, a very wise man once said, “Do not do to others what you don’t want done unto you,” while Jesus took it and reversed it, saying, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

But isn’t our failures to treat others the way we want to be treated not found in the things we need to start doing, but predominantly in the things we’re already doing that we need to stop doing?

Isn’t it usually the ways in which we’re already behaving that causes others grief, pain or suffering?

But what if we don’t yet have the awareness to recognize those behaviors and the negative affects they have on others?

I mean, haven’t you met people who behaved in ways that put you off and it was clear to you that they didn’t even recognize what they were doing or how you were really responding to their behavior?

And isn’t it possible that this is the same situation with ourselves as well sometimes?

In fact, isn’t it not only possible, but probable that this is the case?

Or are you completely without error?

But doesn’t this all beg the question…

If this circumstance or problem is a reality in our lives – that we sometimes don’t know how we behave in ways that turn others off – how do we solve that problem?

How do we become consciously aware of the ways we’re already acting out, out of blind habit, that are causing us to annoy, offend or repel people?

Perhaps health aside, what’s more important than the strength of the relationships we have with the people in our lives?

Don’t our entire lives revolve around them?

Let me ask you this…

When people feel turned off or irritated by other people, do they usually tell them that?

Do they tell them what they’re doing “wrong”?

To the contrary, don’t most of us just be polite and tolerate others’ off-putting behavior – so long as it’s not extreme enough for us to make an issue of it?

Aren’t we hesitant to call people out on their annoying or “bad” behaviors because we want to avoid an argument or confrontation?

After all, haven’t most of us noticed that when we point out peoples’ faults, they either get defensive and argumentative with us, or they start explaining themselves and justifying their behavior?

Yet through all this, they don’t identify it and accept it, do they?

We fail to get through to them with this approach.

But are we so different ourselves most of the time?

Are we perhaps just as resistant?

So if people won’t clue us into the ways we act that they secretly take an issue with, how are we supposed to identify them in ourselves, in order to correct ourselves and stop treating others in ways that they don’t appreciate?

To address that, let me ask you this…

Are you humble enough to see and acknowledge your faults and short-comings – or will you do anything to protect your pride, even if it means failing to see yourself as others do, as you truly are?

Did not Jesus say that those who humble themselves will be exalted?

But how exactly?

Did he mean that if we are humble enough to acknowledge our current faults, the expressions of which give others grief, that we may then have the power to correct them, we will elevate ourselves?

Does this process exalt us among our peers, when we learn to stop acting in ways we used to act that they found repulsive about us?

If this is the path to exaltation, how do we make that journey?

How do we come to recognize the ways we unwittingly treat people that turn them off, so that we can correct those behaviors?

I’ve discovered there are two methods to accomplish this outcome.

The first is to patiently and calmly listen to criticism.

Like I mentioned above, how do most of us respond to criticism?

Don’t we tend to defend ourselves, argue and explain?

But when we do that, how can we see whether or not what the other person has said of us is true or false?

What if it is true?

What if their criticisms about how we behave and how they work hardship on other people is true – how can we change it if we ignore all criticism by refuting it?

If we truly want to treat others the way we want to be treated, don’t we have to acknowledge that, in order to accomplish that aim, we have to look closely at ourselves, identify patterns in our actions that require correction, and seek to change them?

If criticism enlightens us on the things we do but don’t yet know we do, which it often does, isn’t being open to it and listening to it without digging in our heels and resisting it a blessing?

Wouldn’t it sometimes aid in uncovering our faults?

And how can we correct our faults if we’re not first aware of them, except by fluke?

Wise men listen to every piece of criticism they get, regardless of how negative or unflattering it may be to them, then they compare what was said about them in regard to the way they currently behave, to discover if there’s any truth to the words of the critic. And if there is, they have an epiphany and set out immediately to make changes that will then improve their relations with others.

But the fool shuts out all criticism. He resists and fights it. His pride, and his attitude or belief that he can do no wrong stops him from seeing his faults. He refuses to be in situations where someone else seemingly makes him temporarily “look bad”. And thus, he never changes. He remains the same foolish man throughout his days.

Now, the other method to discovering the ways we act out of habit that turns others off is one of continual observation.

As we discussed earlier…

You’ve met people who acted in ways that made you think ill of them, yet they seemed clueless as to the negative results they were producing in you, right?

Have you ever thought about making those people your teachers?

What do I mean?

Certainly, you’ve realized there are two kinds of teacher in life – those who teach you what to do, and those who teach you what not to do, right?

When people turn us off through their behavior, isn’t that a golden opportunity to think this:

“Okay, this person is acting in this certain way, and it’s a major turn off to me. And if this kind of behavior is a turn-off to me, it’s likely also a turn off to everyone else. Since I don’t want to turn people off in the same way this person is, shouldn’t I take a good look at myself to see if I also act in this same sort of way? And if I do, should I not go to work immediately at removing that behavior from all my interactions with others?”

What Jesus failed to teach us is that if we want to treat others the way we want to be treated, we need to make permanent changes to ourselves. First, we need to develop self-awareness; we need to identify the ways in which we currently act that affect others, especially for worse. Then finally, train ourselves to remove those habits from our behavior.

The end result is that we will no longer do unto others what we don’t want done unto us.

 

 

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