by Pastor Tim Burt
Have you ever felt like you’ve gotten off on the wrong foot with someone and because of it, they have wrongly perceived who you really are and your intentions? And now the ongoing relationship is affected in a negative way by that wrong perception?
Welcome to the land of being misunderstood. I don’t know of anyone who has not felt this at one time or another. It’s a hard place. Jesus went through it for most of His ministry. Some loved and embraced Him. Some stood back at arm’s length in doubt, not sure of who He really was and what He was about. Some hated Him because of jealousy, absolutely misunderstanding Him and constantly drawing wrong perceptions of Him. One thing we know for sure. Jesus did not contribute to their wrong perceptions. Those that had them, had them because of their own issues. If they did it with Him, there will be those who do it with you!
When you have this kind of situation going on, there are two things you must do! You must pray through it keeping yourself from being hurt and tainted with bitterness and resentment. Instead, with the help of the Holy Spirit, you must respond with the love of Christ! It might seem impossible and you may not feel like trying, but God will help you! And as He does, He’ll also shape godly character in you! Will it be a challenge? Yes! Almost always!
One of my favorite non-Bible quotes is from Steven R. Covey. He says, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” He calls this the principle of mutual understanding. If you will not jump to conclusions about why someone is doing or saying what they are, and instead seek to understand their heart and why they they think the way they do, that alone will usually improve the situation.
The Apostle Paul gave us a great truth from God that would help keep our heart right if we lived by it. In teaching on love he says in 1 Corinthians 13:7 NKJV, “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” “Bears” is a Greek word that means to cover or give protection. “Bears all things” means that we assume the best to protect the relationship. “Hopes all things,” is related; meaning that love hopes the best in every situation. “Endures all things,” means that because of love, there is perseverance—a diligent effort to protect the relationship.”
If we will will operate in this instruction from God on how to love and protect our relationships with others, then though someone else may misunderstand you, at least you can keep your heart right by trying to understand them and doing your best to protect the relationship. Yes, it may be one-sided. They may not reciprocate. If they still misunderstand you, you may still feel pain. But Jesus did, too! And yet He forgave those who crucified Him. He is our role model. And living this way will make you feel better about yourself.
I pray for any and all of you that are suffering from being misunderstood today. I pray that truth and love will prevail in that relationship and that you will become a champion of loving as God loved, despite how others perceive or treat you!
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV) Love is patient, love is kind… it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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