Thinketh no evil. It's one thing to bite our tongues and not say the ugly things swirling around in our brains, but it's quite another to not have those thoughts in the first place. Yep, we've returned to the topic of the battlefield of the mind. Funny, it seems like I've spent a lot of time here lately. Probably because my mind is generally what gives me the most trouble.
Being a non-confrontational person, I typically excel at biting back my words. Unfortunately, if the offending person could read my thoughts, they'd be shocked. Yes, while I may seem content with the situation on the outside, there's a fire building on the inside. Negative thoughts. Terrible names. It's ugly, let me tell you. And it's not the way love is supposed to be.
I'll give you an example of a situation that took place several months ago. There was a disagreement between myself and another lady. Basically, the lady was assigned a particular task, but instead of dealing with it herself, she called and dumped the responsibility in my lap. During the course of the conversation, she said some things that were very hurtful and offensive to me (such as the fact that she couldn't do the task because she worked all day--like I didn't). Anyway, after I took the situation to a higher authority, Jason and I met with the lady and her husband. Unfortunately, the meeting didn't really resolve the issue because the lady refused to admit she had said any of those things and insisted I had heard her wrong or misunderstood. I know exactly what she said. There was no misunderstanding.
Anyway, during the meeting, when I explained why I felt wronged, the lady shook her head viciously like I had lost my mind or was making stuff up. Talk about biting your tongue! It took everything in me not to raise my voice and make my point, but I'm pleased to say I didn't. On the other hand, I'm ashamed to say there was a lot of conversation going on inside my head, and NONE of it was nice. "How dare she stand there and shake her head at me like she doesn't know what I'm talking about? She knows full well that she said those hurtful things. She just doesn't want to admit she was wrong. She thinks she's so perfect, but I know the truth." Horrible, isn't it? I'm embarrassed to even admit this to you, but as soon as I saw today's topic, the Lord brought this instance to my mind. What better example of what NOT to do, right?
See, it's easy to think no evil when the other person is being sweet and agreeable. But the Bible doesn't say that love thinketh no evil when all is well in the relationship. Nope, it doesn't add that qualifier. Love thinketh no evil, period. End of discussion. It doesn't matter what the other person said or did, even if they were in the wrong. Their wrong actions shouldn't dictate our wrong reactions. Remember the Golden Rule--treat others as you want to be treated? Well, I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want other people telling me off in their minds and harboring negative thoughts about me; therefore, I should not do it to others.
You may be wondering how to handle a situation like the one above if speaking or thinking ugly is not an option. Honestly, it's not easy, and it took me a few months to fully grasp it and put it into practice. First off, it requires the ability to agree to disagree. This is difficult, but sometimes it's necessary if both parties are adamant that they're right. Second, we must forgive the other person whether their actions were wrong or not. In our minds, what they did wasn't right, so until we forgive, we'll be forever hanging on to that bitterness and resentment. And, yes, we can (and should) forgive even if the other person never asks for forgiveness. Forgiving sets us free. Third, and this is probably the most difficult, we need to pray for the other person. There's a reason they said or did the offending words or actions, and often we have no idea what's going on in their lives. Maybe they were having a bad day, not that this excuses their actions, but it does make it a little more understandable. Either way, it's hard to be thinking ill of the person and praying for them at the same time.
I'm happy to say we were able to come to an understanding in the above situation. The lady and I are not the closest of friends, but we weren't before the misunderstanding either. But we are friendly toward one another, and anytime a negative thought about her tries to surface, I return to what I've learned, and I begin to pray for her. Immediately, the ugly thoughts fade away and are replaced with compassion.
Guard your mind, my friends. It truly is a battlefield, and if we would learn to control our thoughts, we would find so much more success in all areas of our lives. Pay attention to what you're thinking, and if negative thoughts are weighing you down, try praying for or about the person or situation instead of dwelling on it. Prayer is an effective remedy!