Thursday, May 28, 2009

To Kill a Mockingbird

How do you kill a mockingbird?

We have one in the neighborhood. A loud one. One that has awoken Mandy and I every morning this week much earlier than we would like. One that has forced us to shut all doors and windows to the cool morning air in order to block out the noise.

All day long, this mockingbird flies between a tree in our front yard and a tree in our neighbor's yard. He sings. And sings. And sings. And sings. He cranks up about 4:00 a.m. and doesn't pipe down until sunset.

And he won't leave.

It was pretty the first day.

But not anymore.


Sometimes it's not mockingbirds that get under our skin...sometimes its other people. When we ministered in Florida, our friends Mark & Marilyn Owen turned us on to a book by their friend, Milton Jones, entitled "How to Love Someone You Can't Stand." Thanks to that mockingbird and an email devotional from Alan Smith, I was reminded again of Milton's insights.

Unfortunately, we don’t always have the option of avoiding people who irritate, people who hurt us, people who offend us. In fact, sometimes those who irritate us the most are found right in our home (or in our church building). So how should we deal with them?

Milton Jones has written a wonderful book entitled “How to Love Someone You Can’t Stand” which I highly recommend. In this book, Jones lists six godly principles which are derived from Romans 12:

1. Manage Your mouth -- Bless and don't curse (Rom. 12.14)

2. Put yourself in the other person's place and try to understand their feelings, thoughts and position (Rom. 12.15)

3. Never, never, never take revenge (Rom. 12.17)

4. Plan ahead to do something beautiful (Rom. 12.17)

5. Don't just win the war, win the peace (Rom. 12.18)

6. Make room for God (Rom. 12.19)

The bottom line is that we do not overcome evil with evil by retaliating and seeking to "get even". The only way to overcome evil is with good (Rom. 12:21). It is never easy to respond to those who do us wrong in a way that is godly, but it is only by following the example of Jesus Christ that we can truly have an influence on the world around us.

"But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps..." (I Peter 2.19-20)