I have a neighbor who is a very good handyman. A while ago, he did some work for us in the house but seemed to be very grouchy and out of sorts. When I tried to help or give a suggestion, he got frustrated and snapped back.
When the job was finished, I was quite relieved not to see him for a while. But then Christmas came around, and I invited him to spend it with us, since his family lived far away. I was quite pleased with myself for what I thought was repaying his rudeness with kindness. On Christmas night, he seemed happy and didn’t seem to remember our run-in. Then a few days later, I saw him again, and he said, “You’ve taught me a lesson.” Aha! I thought, but instead of apologizing, he said: “You taught me I should value myself more, like you valued me!”
Later, I prayed about the situation, and Jesus showed me that my motivation had not been right, being kind to teach my neighbor a lesson. Then I realized that whatever my intentions had been, God had used them for good. Our neighbor is valuable and should feel loved and appreciated.
I read that in Japanese philosophy, there are two secrets to enjoying life and improving relationships with relatives or at the workplace.
The first is, be thankful for everything that happens, whether good or bad. Focus on the good to create good memories that you can keep forever. You can even bring God into the situation by praising Him.
The second is, when in conflict with someone, find something praiseworthy about him or her. Keep doing this and avoid criticalness, and the situation will start improving day by day.
After this, I began complimenting my neighbor every time I saw him or asked for his help again around the house, which happened often. I started to do the same with everybody else I came in contact with, and to my amazement, it really worked.
Let’s try to find out what others are going through, to walk a mile in their shoes before passing judgment, and let’s try to focus on their good traits! How much better life would be if we would seek to understand one another better! Gentleness begets gentleness, and love never fails!1
1. See 1 Corinthians 13:8.