A few friends and I were talking about a decline we are seeing in common courtesy, polite manners, and the like. We found ourselves trying to find the “why” for the lack in our society. We shook our heads because of the behavior of others and our battle to rise above the negative and still remain positive. I realized it is a conscious decision I have to make as well. Will I allow the troubles of others sweep over me and drag me into their negativity?
We are called to love one another as Christ loved us, but no where in Scripture does it say that we are to take on their negative attitudes and wear them as our own. I have often said, “Don’t let that person’s drama get on your stage.” We are responsible for our behavior, but we are also to hold up our brothers and sisters when they are struggling. Even if they are not aware of it, even if they aren’t grateful for our concern and prayers.
Mother Teresa (1910-1997) is often looked to for wisdom regarding loving the unlovely. She served in India giving love, hope, and dignity to those who had never experienced kindness. She shared this in the name of Christ because she was compelled to do so. Her example of loving selflessly is often held up as something to attain. But to Mother Teresa it was Christ who was to be held as the example of how to live a life. How to love those who never knew love, who never knew the truth of Christ’s love and sacrifice for them. Simply put, Mother Teresa took the teachings of Jesus and put it this way:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
Written on the wall in Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta.
Our world is full of people who will never understand their need for kindness, for mercy, and grace. But according to Scripture we are called to love them as Jesus did. We are to love and introduce a person to the Gospel- maybe for the first time. So let us love them anyway.
I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” (John 17:26).