How we respond to bad behavior says a lot about our understanding of the gospel. In saying that, I’m not so much thinking about our own bad behavior as I am thinking about our response to the bad behavior of others – whether it’s our kids, spouse, co-workers, friends or family. When other people mess up, we find out what we believe about Jesus.
If we really believe that Jesus answers our greatest failures with the costliest of grace, how can we withhold grace from others? If Jesus died for our sin, how can we be so quick to crucify others for theirs? We’re commanded to love one another as Jesus loves us (Jn. 13:24). Jesus doesn’t just love us when we have our act together. He loved us when we were still enemies of God (Rm. 5:8-10). If we really get that, we’ll respond to the failures of others with love and grace.
We all know that. Here’s what we forget: when we meet failure with grace, lives change. So often we think that we’ll produce change in others by withholding affection, lashing out, complaining or getting angry. But it rarely works. Even if we beat on someone’s behavior long enough to see a shift, we aren’t getting anywhere with their hearts. But grace works! Grace softens, changes, molds and transforms.
Grace works. So, the next time you’re getting ready to blast someone, try loving them first. Try assuming the best, stepping into their world and offering to lift and encourage them in some way. You’ll be amazed the response you get.