What have you done for me lately was the title of Janet Jackson’s hit single from her 1986 album Control.  Unfortunately, for some, this is their life’s mantra:  What have you done for me lately, or more specifically, what have you done for me today?

Our microwave society could create in us an inflated sense of entitlement.  I want it now. No need for please, and forget about a thank you.  If we are not careful, our tunnel vision could occlude our peripheral view and eclipse our hindsight.  Our desire to plug forward could obliterate our memories of the helping hands along the way.  We have to be mindful of our tendency to allow one unkind act to eradicate a multitude (or a single act) of kindness.  We shouldn’t ask: What have you done for me lately?  Instead, we should ask: How have you shown me favor in the past?  When we remember an individual’s previous acts of kindness or service, it could help to soften our heart to his or her current ill-perceived action(s).  Remembering an individual’s past kindness is not an attempt to provide an excuse or justification for perceived (or actual), current misbehavior, but it is a way to provide perspective on the person’s overall character.  I also feel that I should point out that remembering a person’s previous acts of kindness is not an excuse to be mistreated and abused.  Abuse is beyond the scope of this dialogue.

With that said, how do we look past our current hurt and extend kindness?  The answer is grace.  Grace should be an essential component of all our relationships.  In a nutshell, grace is granting favor beyond what is deserved.  None of us are perfect.  None of us are worthy of grace or forgiveness.  But Christ gave His life so that we could have both of these in abundance.  That is an important fact to remember when we have been wronged. 

Extending forgiveness and grace does not mean that we morph into a doormat.  It simply means that we remember how flawed we are and how we too will need forgiveness and an extension of grace.

 Today’s prayers:

  • Jesus, please soften our hearts that we can remember the goodness in our partners (or future partners) even when their actions are less than pleasing.
  • Lord, please grant us a gracious heart that is forgiving and not retaliatory.

Verses:

Ephesians 4:32 (NLT)

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Proverbs 17:9 (NLT)

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.

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