Our countenance when anxious (or in conflict) reveals a lot about the ‘baseline’ from which we typically operate when things are not going our way.

For example, when when you’re running late, or traffic is bad, do you find yourself grumbling about how others just don’t seem to be paying attention (or doing things the ‘right way’) and therefore they are slowing you down?

How about in a ‘spiritual’ sense (i.e. ‘They just don’t understand Scripture the way I do. If they did, they wouldn’t be having the problems they’re having’ or ‘they wouldn’t be disagreeing with me!’)

I recently spoke with a woman who feels absolutely trapped (and abandoned) by her husband in their marriage relationship after more than 20 years of dictatorial behavior from her God-given leader. This is also a couple that I know very well and my friendship with the husband prompted me to ‘probe’ a bit in a recent conversation that I had with him on this subject.

Sadly, he exemplified the attitudes that I’ve described above and was almost completely unaware of (or concerned) about it! I have also found that most men (including myself!) tend to operate from an unconscious viewpoint that says, ‘If I only had more control and compliance (from those around me) – everything would be just fine!

Unfortunately, this attitude shows up all too frequently at home, at work, in public, and even in church!

Jesus said in John 12:32, ‘And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself’. In Romans 2:4 we are challenged to recognize that it is, ‘the kindness of God that leads you to repentance’.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to be a witness to the world of the reality that God is Love. Are we trying to do that by seeking to enforce (upon others) their compliance with Biblical mandates for behavior, speech, and belief? How often have you yourself felt controlled or condemned by the superior attitudes and behaviors of those around you who are in authority (i.e. teachers, parents, spouses, bosses, etc.)?

Should we not endeavor to treat others with such Christ-like care that they feel, as a result, that they are as the ‘living epistles’ that Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (letters of Christ; written by the Spirit of God onto human hearts)?

Jesus made one thing abundantly clear in Matthew 11:28 when he said, ‘COME (seek, rely, surrender) to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I WILL GIVE YOU REST’. In each of the above verses it is God who ‘draws’, ‘leads’, or invites us to ‘come’ – and each with a compassionate promise for salvation, redemption, and care.

Just as we ourselves can viscerally ‘feel’ when someone’s countenance is abrasive, harsh, or impatient toward us; those we have been been given charge to care for can be our greatest asset in understanding the effect of our own care towards them (vs. what may have been our heart-felt desire). I call that ‘Intent vs Impact’ – but I’ll save that topic for another post…