The Kindest Way

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.    Exodus 20:16

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.    Martin Luther

I had a revelation this past week.  Well, maybe not a revelation so much as a reminder of something I had forgotten about.

I’ve been under the gun a bit this week.  Monday started well before dawn, hitting the road for a long drive to install product at a new customer.  I got volunteered to do these installations for 6-store group.  The guy that put the deal together and his contact have not been very communicative, making things harder.  I kept anticipating having an unpleasant experience based on the few things I was told.

When I got there, the store manager was friendly as could be.  So was his assistant.

Shame on me.

The installation started going bad due to – again – poor communications from the guys that did the deal.  I was getting pretty upset, considering this week’s schedule has me driving about 20 hours.  Once I called the guy on my side, I realized there were a number of things he couldn’t control.

Again, shame on me.

Luther’s Eighth Commandment explanation exploded in my head.  It was something I had to memorize in grade school.  The key phrase from my memory?  Put the best construction on everything.  The translation above is better, emphasizing kindness.

I get frustrated easily.  Things throwing me off my schedule really get to me.  Not that I’m OCD or anything.

Isn’t that how things tend to go for us all at some point?  We hit an unexpected, unwanted hurdle and automatically assume someone else is the jerk here.  Someone cuts me off in traffic.  Are they automatically a jerk?  They could be having a lousy day too.  Maybe they’re rushing to an emergency.

Whatever they are, the upsets us in life prompts us to look for a scapegoat.  Someone else is an idiot and making my life unnecessarily hard.

BeautyBeyondBones published an article, #stopasianhate in response to a recent spate of people randomly attacked for just being Asian.  Usually elderly.  People are taking out their frustrations over COVID hardships on the easiest target – Asians.  It supposedly originated in Wuhan, China, right?  But, if true, that doesn’t mean every Asian person is responsible for it!  In fact, they are likely facing the same sorts of hardships everyone else is!

There’s too much hate and not enough kindness!  We are not explaining everything in the kindest way.  While most of here are not attacking Asians over COVID, I’m betting all of us attack someone over something based on mere assumptions more often than we care to admit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…    Galatians 5:22

Even Christians who have accepted Jesus by the work of the Spirit still go wrong.  We are constantly at war with ourselves, our new spirit at odds with our still sinful flesh.  St, Paul had the same struggle as he described in Romans 7:

For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice…O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Put the best construction on everything.  Explain everything in the kindest way.  Maybe I should make a sign of that and paste it to me dashboard!

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