Justified. That's how I feel at times when I lash out at someone I love. I hold it together for so long and then the ugliness comes pouring out of my mouth. And once it starts, it just keeps on going like a dripping faucet that won't turn off. In the moment I feel completely justified. I react to another's behavior and tell myself they deserve it. They have hurt me or someone I care for and they need to understand the error of their ways. Gradually the drip stops, the pressure is gone, and I am able to walk away. But I don't just walk away. I am left feeling ugly, frustrated, and more than that, I have hurt someone I love.
Last night was another one of those nights. My reason for being frustrated was valid, but my reaction and approach was not that of a kind woman, let alone a Christian woman. As I woke this morning and asked God for wisdom, He brought me to 2 Timothy 2:22-26. Paul is giving Timothy advice on how to live. If anyone knew suffering and had a reason to be angry, it was Paul. Not only was he giving advice to Timothy, but he was writing to him from prison. Paul had every justification to be angry, yet through the power of the Holy Spirit, he was able to react in a loving way, to remain positive and to focus his eyes on Jesus and not his current circumstances.
In these verses, God teaches us to "gently instruct". There is not gentleness in yelling, making someone feel bad about themselves and bringing up every wrong they have ever done. Gentleness does not hurt and does not lash out. To me, to gently instruct would be to share our thoughts and feelings in a loving, kind way. Paul goes on to say that the hope is that "God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth". Too often I try to bring those I love to the knowledge of the truth on my own. I start out speaking in love, but when they don't see the "knowledge of the truth" according to Melissa, I get louder and say things that are hurtful. I need to allow God to show them the truth. I need to speak in a loving, kind way and then pray and ask God to show His wisdom and truth to the person.
The verse isn't a promise. It says that we do this "in hope" that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth. With this comes faith that God will work in their hearts. If they do not receive His promptings and teachings, we are still called to love and be gentle and it is then that I ask God to grant me the a spirit of unconditional love and grace, even when I feel it is undeserved. God is teaching me that I need to handle conflict in a better way. I am asking God to help me to first pray and seek His wisdom when there is a disagreement, to share in a gentle loving way, to trust Him to change the heart of the other person if it is His will and to find peace and rest in God even when things do not go the way I would like. I am never justified in being hurtful or hateful with my words and my actions. There is never a time when hate is better than love. May I not quarrel, but instead be kind to everyone, able to teach and not be resentful, all through the working of the Holy Spirit in my life.