It was a cold day in January, and the weatherman was calling for more snow over the weekend. Through a series of miscommunications, our oil tank was running low. Even though I’d ordered heating oil, none had arrived.
When I called the oil company to see if there was an issue, I found that they were having a tough week. Omicron hit them hard. Their delivery drivers were sick, and they were overwhelmed with calls from people who needed them right away. Still, they guaranteed if we were patient, they’d deliver.
On Thursday, they called and said they were coming. However, when the day passed, and there was still no delivery, I called again. Completely overwhelmed, the woman on the phone explained that another delivery driver was sick.
I very politely and calmly said, “I don’t mean to be rude, but would you mind if I tried a different company? I understand what you’re dealing with, but I need oil soon.”
I could hear the relief in her voice as she said, “You are the nicest person. I spent all day yesterday having customers scream at me and swear when I told them our drivers were sick. You are the first person who has been kind about the situation.”
I said, “I’m sorry you went through that. It’s not your fault Covid hit your company. We’re all in this together. I understand. I just need to get oil somewhere else.”
The conversation ended positively, and another company delivered oil the next day.
But once again, I was reminded of the truth in Proverbs that “a gentle answer turns away wrath.” (Proverbs 15:1)
More importantly, I was struck by the realization that words and attitudes of kindness, grace, and mercy stand out in today’s culture. These attitudes refresh and refuel like a cup of cold water on a hot day. It shows people that followers of Christ are different—we live by another code of conduct.
These attitudes affirm our commitment to avoid blending with today’s culture where anger and hostility reign supreme. When giving people a piece of our minds and standing up for our personal comfort above all else is the norm, a follower of Christ exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit is counter-cultural living.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23,NLT)
It makes a genuine difference. More than a thousand sermons, people notice when our lifestyle is different. When we follow Jesus’ words and treat others the way we want to be treated, we live out practical Christianity. We’re standing out, being separate, refusing to bow in an angry, selfish world.
What do we do when we fail and exhibit unChristlike behavior?
We apologize and admit we were wrong.
Ironically, I learned this lesson the same week.
On top of the oil issue, many frustrating things were going on that week. While I was tired and annoyed with a plethora of issues, someone made a comment on my social media that I just didn’t want to address. So, I took the easy way out and deleted it, forgot about it, and went on with my terrible, very bad, no good day.
Later that night, I got a private message from the person whose comment I deleted. It was a long message venting all of their thoughts and feelings. They were very offended, to say the least.
At that moment, I had two choices: I could vent my frustrations back at them, or I could do the right thing, admit I was wrong and apologize.
I chose the latter, explained I was having a bad day and asked them to forgive me.
This diffused the situation. (I’ve found that very few people will argue with you when you admit you are wrong. They usually agree.)
Again, resisting the temptation to follow a worldly pattern and match anger with anger represented Jesus well. It took humility to admit I was wrong, but it was the right thing to do.
Both of these instances reminded me that when the Bible says, “Come apart and be separate,” (2 Corinthians 2:17) it doesn’t just mean avoiding worldly places and activities. It includes having different attitudes, responding with different words, and sometimes just being a decent human being in a world that seems to have forgotten what this means.
While I wholeheartedly believe it’s important to speak out for truth and against injustice and unrighteousness, it’s equally important that we are living a life that practices what we preach.
As Paul said:
“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NLT)
Our actions matter. Showing Biblical kindness and love is another way we can refuse to blend with the world, but shine our light brightly for Jesus.
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry."