We'll call her Wanda.
Wanda works at a local retail establishment we frequent. She's recently served us on several occasions, always with a cool and bordering on unfriendly reserve as we begin our transactions. My initial reaction is to be cool in response, but over the years I've learned that this is not the Lord's way in our lives.
"I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:44-45).
As born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are not given the option of relating to people as they relate to us. We rather relate to them as God relates to us. We seek to bestow the love, grace, and mercy we have received upon all, regardless of their attitude, demeanor, words and actions toward us. I've remembered this truth both blessed and challenging when relating to Wanda, and the Lord has enabled me to be warm and friendly toward her despite her reserve. Wonderfully, this has led on every occasion to Wanda opening up, smiling, and by the end of our transaction, we carry on as if we had known each other for years, as friends.
This is the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of peace. During our times with Wanda, He has appeared on the scene, first in my heart and mind, and then in tangible display between Wanda and myself. Indeed, left to myself, nothing would have happened of any worth and value, and more importantly, of any expression of the love of God. Thankfully, our Lord does not leave us to ourselves, but rather intimately and dynamically involves Himself along the everyday pathways of life. I wonder if perhaps Wanda has needs and difficulties in her life that causes her initial coolness when we encounter her. Or perhaps she is simply shy. I don't know, but God does, and He graces me with the privilege and responsibility of giving to Wanda as I have received from Him.
I have seen this happen so many times that while I am still tempted when I meet someone withdrawn and perhaps even surly, I'm learning to see the opportunity,God's opportunity, that presents itself in such episodes. Again, we never know what's going on in people's lives. But we do know the Lord who cares about them so dearly, and who sends us as His emissaries of love to needy hearts. What a privilege, and what a blessing when we see a stern face soften, eyes look up and brighten, and a heart open to the relationship that happens when the Prince of peace graces us with the remembrance of how kind He has been to us, and of how kind He privileges us to be toward all.
"The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle to all men." (II Timothy 2:24)