Saturday, April 7, 2012

Maybe it's you

If you consider yourself to be a "blunt" person who is "frank" and "honest" with people, don't be surprised if your candid opinion is poorly received. Blunt, Frank and Honest would make great gangster names, because more people have been hurt by this dynamic trio than we can count! Even if what you said was true, and even if you meant well, it is not your place to put people in their place! Our words have more value when they are prayerfully chosen and carefully spoken. "Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones." (Prov. 16:24) If you have a lot of problems with people and you are often in trouble for things that you've said, maybe it's you.

You can say whatever you'd like, but don't expect everything you say to be well received. When it comes to words, more often than not, "less is more." I've heard a lot of excuses over the years from people who have a bad case of "Pricklypersonitis," but here are a few of the more common excuses, along with some Scriptural solutions:

1. This is just the way I am. Okay, that reminds me of a familiar song at the end of church services all over America. "Just As I Am" is an invitation to come down the aisle in a condition that needs changing! Just because we have certain tendencies doesn't mean we're stuck with them! God is the God of transformation. "And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." (Rom. 12:2) If the "way you are" isn't working well for others because it's harsh, abrasive or otherwise offensive, consider this: you need to change.

2. People are just too sensitive these days. Hmm. I guess it depends on who's getting poked in the eye. Isn't it odd how people will justify their own misbehavior, but absolutely refuse to tolerate the same misbehavior from someone else? It's more of the "Me First" disease that has spread faster than any virus. "He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him." (Prov. 18:17) If your case went before a judge, how do you think you'd fare with blaming others for being "too sensitive"? I'm ready to throw the book at you myself.

3. I'm sorry if they have a problem. Ah yes, the beloved old shoe of blaming the victim. Here's my version: "I'm sorry if you have a problem because you perceived something differently from what I intended, and if it hurt you, that wasn't the goal, but..."  It's almost better not to apologize than to offer a half-hearted, insincere, thinly-veiled "it was partly your fault" dissertation! When you were wrong, you were WRONG.  "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." (Phil. 2:4) If you're sorry, say so. Here's a free sample: "I was wrong. Will you forgive me?"

4. I'm very blunt, and people don't know how to deal with that. Allow me to run that through my "Automatic Translating Machine" (a different kind of ATM): "I may say something that will hurt your feelings, so if you see me coming and you don’t RUN you're going to get it." Whenever I hear someone say that they're "very blunt" or "very straightforward," I mentally start walking backwards. I don't want to be in the line of fire when they start shooting from the lip! "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." (Prov. 15:1) If you think it's fine to be blunt, don't be surprised if you end up in frequent trouble with people who find your lack of tact offensive.

When we talk and interact with people, it shouldn't leave them scarred for life! "He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he." (Prov. 16:20) Wise handling of relationships is essential. We need to constantly stay in tune with the Lord to know when to speak, when to be silent; when to draw closer and when to leave some space. God is able to teach us how to be wise in our relationships with people, if we're willing to learn and apply His principles.

When was the last time you evaluated the way you interact with people? If you'll examine yourself and ask the Lord to "search you," it's possible that you'll see some rough spots, and then you can go to work on those areas. "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psa. 139:23-24) We all need a spiritual check-up now and then, because we all have the potential to harm someone with our words or our prickly ways. Our family may have to live with us "as is," but our friends can take us or leave us!

Have people been avoiding you? Do you have a hard time making friends and an even harder time keeping them? Are you wondering if your name is on some secret "Do Not Call" list?

Maybe it's you...and maybe it's time to allow the Lord to transform you.

"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Prov. 16:25)

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