“Nobody’s perfect!” You’ve heard it. You’ve thought it. You’ve probably said it. Unfortunately, we seem too often find ourselves on the receiving end of the imperfection. Sometimes the mistakes are not that big of a deal —putting pickles on a plain burger or calling you by the wrong name. Other times the mistakes are a really big deal—running a red light into oncoming traffic or giving someone the wrong medication. So, what do we (Christians) do when people make mistakes, and at our expense?
Sympathize with them. If Jesus could and can “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Heb. 4:15), then why can we not try to do the same by putting ourselves in their place? You’ve been there yourself!
Be patient with them. Paul addressed how to respond to those who may test our patience sometimes by saying, “Be patient with all” (1 Thess. 5:14). A servant of the Lord must be “patient when wronged” (2 Tim. 2:24).
Be kind to them. A servant of God is to “be kind” and “tenderhearted” (Eph. 4:32) to “everyone,” rather than being “quarrelsome” (2 Tim. 2:24), for the Lord Himself “is kind to ungrateful and evil people” (Luke 6:35).
Golden Rule them. “As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them” (Luke 6:31).
Go to them. If the situation calls for a resolution, then “go and tell him his fault between you and him alone” (Matt. 18:15). Aim to keep it private.
Refuse to malign them. A Christian is charged, “Do not speak evil of one another” (Jas. 4:11). In fact, Paul would “remind” us “to speak evil of no one,” and instead “to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men” (Tit. 3:1-2).
Love them. Just as the Lord possessed and demonstrated love for all men (John 3:16), He calls upon us to do the same, even to “love” people we would consider our “enemies” (Matt. 5:44). Agape love is unconditional, unselfish and seeks the best of the one to whom we direct that love (cf. Phil. 2:3-5).
Pray for them. While our tendency might be to give someone a piece of our mind, the better choice would be to talk to God about and for that person (Matt. 5:44; Luke 23:34) to obtain a peace of mind.
Be merciful to them and forgive them. Once again, our God shows the way. “Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36). If we want God to forgive us, then we must forgive others (Matt. 6:14-15).
Don’t let their mistake rule you. You control you. Better yet, “Set your mind on things above” (Col. 3:1). Read Colossians 3 and then let verse 15 resonate in your heart: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.”
– David Sproule, Palm Beach Lakes church of Christ, Palm Beach Gardens, FL