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Saturday, July 17, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: Matthew 5:21-48

For all the weeks to have encountered Jesus’ wonderful (but immensely challenging) words from Matthew, wouldn’t you know I would encounter those words THIS week?! I say that because it was a week that I wasn’t at my best and perhaps most needed to hear these words.

Let me give you an example that shows the kind of week I had.

Several weeks ago I became involved helping an individual whose cause I believed in very strongly. In fact, I believed in the cause so strongly that I was willing to do anything to help the leader of the group. The leader picked up on this and began making requests of my time and energy that were clearly out of line.

Instead of nipping the problem in the bud and saying, “I really want to see your group succeed but I can’t meet every demand you make” I simply kept my yap shut and went along with each and every demand. I figured that if we established trust and a working relationship, then perhaps I could get the person to see that her demands were unreasonable.

As time passed, however, exactly the opposite happened. The more I accommodated the unreasonable requests, the more the individual demanded from me. Things finally culminated this week when the person exploded at me for not meeting yet another unspoken expectation. By that time, I was so invested in my role of long-suffering martyr that I snapped back. Needless to say, I wasn’t proud of myself for the way I handled the situation.

So much of this could have been prevented if only I had followed Jesus’ words of advice from the outset and set healthy boundaries. For instance, if I had expressed my frustration and unwillingness to meet the first unhealthy request at the moment it was made, my frustration wouldn’t have festered within me and grown into anger. I also wouldn’t have found myself feeling helpless – forced to wait until the individual stopped making unreasonable requests. Instead, I would have done what Jesus said and made the first move – helping to make things right. If only…

Today I would encourage you to take Jesus’ words to heart if you find yourself in challenging interpersonal situations. Those words might seem uncomfortable to implement at first, but believe me – they’ll head off larger troubles in the long run and help you maintain a sense of peace and balance in your world.

Til next time…

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