May 16, 2011

Relating to Others

Ephesians 4:25-32

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32


One of my college friends was a student from the African nation of Eritrea. I remember I couldn’t figure out how he could eat the food that he sometimes cooked for himself. It was so spicy! Even a tiny piece of his dish would burn my mouth for hours.

But that was the food he was used to and had eaten since childhood. He perceived the regular American diet as extremely bland and tasteless.

In our childhood we become accustomed to certain foods. We also learn in childhood how to relate to others. Due to different upbringing and cultural backgrounds, we sometimes perceive other people as hurtful even though they do not mean to offend us. Or we might unintentionally hurt those who are more sensitive than we are.

In today’s reading the apostle Paul calls us to be loving and compassionate in our relationships with others. When we talk to our friend, let us remember that he or she might be more sensitive—just like some people are sensitive even to a mildly spicy dish. And if we feel that others are purposefully hurting us, let’s keep in mind that they might not have intended to do that. It might be a case of simple miscommunication or misunderstanding.

And even if the offense is real, we are called to be imitators of God in forgiving others as he has forgiven us.

Our heavenly Father, give us your Spirit of kindness and forgiveness. Help us reflect your love in this world. Amen.

About the author — Sergei Sosedkin

Sergei Sosedkin is the Russian-language ministry leader for ReFrame Ministries. He is a native of Moscow, Russia. As he oversees the Russian-language ministry, Sosedkin works from our office in Grand Rapids and in various locations in Russia.

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