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Summary: Robert E. Lee was asked to comment on one of his worst critics. He said, "I believe he is a fine General." Confused that he would say something nice about an enemy, Lee said, "You asked me to tell you what I thought of him, not what he thought of me."

How The Holy Spirit Can Help Us Show Respect, Kindness and Love for All People

Luke 6:27-31 "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you... Do to others as you would have them do to you."

Illustration: If you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! —Galatians 5:15

Martin De Haan writes: "I was cruising along on the highway at about 60 miles an hour when up ahead I saw two sparrows in a fierce battle at the side of the road. With feathers flying, they attacked each other with great fury.

As my car approached, they became locked in combat. Together they rose in the air and fluttered blindly into the path of the car. With a violent thud they smashed against the windshield, leaving a smear of blood and feathers. They were so preoccupied with their battle that they were blind to more serious dangers. Their quarrel cost them their lives.

How often we act like those two sparrows! We fail to realize that in a fight no one ever wins. Both are losers. We carry grudges, and our irritations get blown out of proportion. I don’t know what those sparrows were fighting over, but it wasn’t worth dying for. Neither are our quarrels.

Learn a lesson from the sparrows. Forget your grievances, be ready to forgive, and admit it when you’re wrong. Ask God’s Spirit to produce in you "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (vv.22-23).

When you feel like fighting, remember those two dead sparrows by the roadside! —MRD

When you lash out at others, you’re sure to hurt yourself.

Illustration: Robert E. Lee was asked to comment on one of his worst critics. He said, "I believe he is a fine General." Confused that he would say something nice about an enemy, Lee said, "You asked me to tell you what I thought of him, not what he thought of me."

Be bigger than any problem by not allowing yourself to be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom. 12:21)

1. The Holy Spirit can help us build mutual respect for each other when we trust Him to help us focus on one another’s strengths rather than weaknesses. God has given each person special strengths, abilities, and gifts which are unique to that individual. Rather than focusing your attention on what someone else lacks, trust the Lord to help you highlight their God given positive qualities. Paul wrote, "Think about things that are pure and lovely, dwell on the fine and good things in others, think about all the things you have to praise God for and be glad about." (Phil. 4:8 - Phillips)

Application: Ask the Lord to help you make a choice to speak to one another about their positive strengths rather than the things that might irritate you.

2. The Holy Spirit can help us build respect when we seek reconciliation with anyone in our fellowship who refuses to communicate in love. Jesus said, "If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." (Matt. 5:23)

Application: Ask the Lord for the grace to initiate reconciliation with those you have a grievance with, feel resentment toward or are bitter against.

3. The Holy Spirit can help us build respect when we are willing to invite people who have a grievance against us to come and resolve the issue. Solomon wrote, "Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; Rebuke a wise man and he will love you." (Proverbs 9:8) Ask the Lord to help you to remain humble enough to accept rebukes and become wiser.

4. The Holy Spirit can help us build respect when we are willing to consider other opinions as valuable and worthy of applications. Paul wrote, "Do nothing from factional motives (through contentiousness, strife, selfishness or for unworthy ends) or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself (thinking more highly of one another than you do our yourselves). (Phil. 2:3) Ask the Lord for the humility, wisdom and teachability to value one another’s opinions, ideas and feelings.

5. The Holy Spirit can help you build respect when we make it know that we will not manipulate others. Ask the Lord for a more gracious attitude to serve one another as Christ would minister to them. Resist any temptation to use people, coerce people or try to manipulate people for your own selfish interests.

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