Last week: Jim was angry at his wife so he yelled at Larry who then threatened his top sales person, Robin, who turned and insulted her receptionist who went home and punished her son who in a fit of rage… kicked his poor innocent cat. Do you get the picture? Wouldn’t Jim be better off going straight to the receptionist’s house and kicking that cat himself? Let’s face it: We’ve all kicked a few cats.
Aren’t we relieved no one ever gets their cat kicked in church? Ouch that hurt! Even in God’s house we are not immune from a little cat-kicking. You don’t believe me? Attend a few committee meetings.
Paul wrote in a letter to the Philippians (4:11-13): “I have learned the secret of living in every situation… For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” Wow! Paul seems to have his act together. Wouldn’t you love to have his contentment? How do we obtain it? When someone is kicking our cat…. how can we respond like Paul with gentleness and grace?
First… what would be the wrong way to respond to having your cat kicked?
- Don’t look for another cat to kick. That’s abuse.
- Don’t whine to everyone you know. That’s gossip.
- Don’t throw a temper tantrum. That’s immature.
- Don’t take your ball and go home. That’s quitting.
- Don’t use the silent treatment. That’s weak.
- Don’t vow to get even. That’s revenge.
- Yet, don’t do nothing. That’s unhealthy for them and for you.
So, Larry… what is the right way to respond? “I can do everything with the help of Christ.”
First, let’s look at the Bible. This time from Peter: “Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say, “If you want a happy life and good days, keep your tongue from speaking evil, and keep your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Work hard at living in peace with others.” (1 Peter 3:8-11)
So what is Peter saying to do when someone is kicking his cat? “Work hard at living in peace…”
- Pray: Talk to God and ask for help. You can even get angry! God can take it.
- Perspective: In light of eternity in heaven remember how God comes first.
- Share: Spend time with a trusted friend or prayer partner and pray together.
- Seek: Look for God’s guidance on how to properly respond and then pray for courage.
- Confront if possible: This should be done with love confident you are obeying God will.
- Forgive: This is a process but ultimately, it’s the only way to promote healing and growth.
- Pray again: Turn the solution in faith, over to God regardless of the immediate outcome.
Is this going to be easy? Absolutely not! Like Peter said: “Work hard at living in peace with others.”
Here is how the cat kicking story could and should end…
Jim, after much thought and prayer apologizes to his wife and promises to be a better husband and father and begins clearing his calendar to make time for his family. Jim also apologizes for taking out his personal frustration on Larry. Larry seeks out Robin and asks forgiveness for being so rude. Robin finds the receptionist and apologizes for her terrible behavior. On the way home, the receptionist orders pizza and over dinner promises to be a more understanding mother and not take her work frustrations out on him. As for Ellis, the cat… he received quite a few extra treats that week.
What can we learn from God through Paul and Peter? The secret of living in every situation is to look to Christ for strength, love one another and work hard at living in peace. It sure beats kicking cats!