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How Do I Show Grace to People Who Are Mean to Me?

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"I just think about beating them to the ground, but then I just ignore them," says Ben, 11.

You're refreshingly honest, Ben. There are times when we're tempted to flatten mean people. There's a Scripture that says, "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18). In certain situations, ignoring a persistent bully may be all you can do.

Showing grace to mean people doesn't always mean ignoring someone or backing down, says John, 9: "The other day, my sister pushed me off my bike. So I told her to stop, and she did."

Much wisdom is needed to know when to confront and when to walk away.

"Being mean seems like a way to get respect," says Kerri, 10. Apart from God's grace, we build our little fortresses of meanness around wounds we've suffered. We'll hurt others before letting ourselves get hurt again.

"You kind of feel sorry for mean people because nobody wants to be their friend," says Taylor, 10.

Your own peace of mind will increase if you receive God's grace to look at mean people with compassion. It takes special grace to show grace to people who live in isolation behind emotional walls they've erected to protect themselves.

"God showed grace to everyone even if they were as mean as a snake. He loved everyone and treated everyone equally with loving kindness," says Megan, 11.

Understanding that God loves everyone is the key to showing grace. Experiencing God's love brings us into a larger place where we can live beyond our natural tendency to return evil for evil.

If Jesus had returned evil for evil, he never would have allowed himself to be crucified. Legions of angels were waiting for Jesus's word to wipe out his enemies. Instead of a command to attack, the angels heard a prayer: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."

"Jesus still loved them, and he forgave them," says Mary, 11.

"We should forgive those who trespass against us. Sound familiar?"

In what has become known as the Lord's Prayer, Jesus taught his disciples to pray, "Forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us" (Matthew 6:12 NCV).

Jesus' death and resurrection secured eternal life for all who have trusted him as their savior. However, walking in harmony with God requires that we confess our sins to God and extend the same forgiveness to others that we have received.

Receiving God's forgiveness is not only the foundation for forgiving mean people, but it's also the basis for returning good for evil. Christians have been forgiven a much larger debt than anyone will ever owe them.

"Even if people are not nice to you, you should still show grace to them because that's what Jesus would do," says Jessica, 11. You're probably thinking about W.W.J.D. (What Would Jesus Do?). Thinking what Jesus would do will take you a long way, but I suggest going further.

Think about this: Try W.I.J.D. (What Is Jesus Doing?). When Jesus returned to heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit to indwell and empower his people. Every Christian who follows Christ lives by the same Spirit that empowered Jesus during his earthly ministry.

Memorize this truth: "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one" (Colossians 4:6).

Ask this question: What is Jesus doing through you to show his grace to mean people?

Listen to a talking book, download the "Kids Color Me Bible" for free, watch Kid TV Interviews and travel around the world by viewing the "Mission Explorers Streaming Video" at www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version. To find out more about Carey Kinsolving and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CAREY KINSOLVING

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.



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