Jim and Nick had been neighbors for years. Not necessarily close friends who knew each other’s daily habits and dislikes, but friendly enough. Except when Jim did something that got under the skin of his neighbor. Which, unfortunately happened more than once in those years of living next to each other.
Oh yes, Nick would confront Jim with the problems. Telling him exactly why he was upset, and why the problems were Jim’s fault. And Jim? His unfailing response was a nod and a smile, “Okay, I understand, and you have the right to feel the way you do.” Then he would turn away and return to whatever he had been doing when he was interrupted. Absolutely unfazed by Nick’s irritation and requests.
Needless to say, this was NOT the response Nick wanted. He felt his opinion didn’t count to his lousy neighbor - there at least should have been apologies with some changes made. So predictably over a period of time, Neighbor Nick developed - shall I say - a bad taste in his mouth when Jim’s name was even mentioned. Disappointment had turned to irritation, which quickly upgraded itself to anger, and a newborn started living in their neighborhood – named Grudge.
No question about it, Jim was being self-centered and disagreeable, even as he smiled and nodded. He was going to do what he wanted to do, not matter how it affected Nick. Not exactly being a team player or attempting to get along with his neighbor. And yes, Nick definitely had obvious reasons for disliking the man’s attitude.
So here is my question. How long should Nick hold a grudge? Until Jim abjectly apologized? Given that man’s previous track record – good luck with that. Keep griping at Jim while attempting to convince the other neighbors that Jim was ‘a bad seed’ who needed to be ostracized, until he finally changed his behavior? Good luck with that one also – the Jims in life usually don’t respond well to anger, bullying and coercion.
Scripture mentions a more effective way.
Proverbs 25:21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. 22For in so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you. 23As the north wind brings forth rain, so a backbiting tongue brings angry looks.…
Be honest with yourself. In your own experience, if you are a Jim, are you eager to please a Nick who constantly is carping and angry with you? Not normally. We humans don’t usually fall all over our self to meet the needs and wants of a person we see as always irritated with us. That kind of willingness we normally reserve for the people who are kind, loving and caring.
So, if you are Nick and wanting the Jim in your life to make some changes, maybe you should heed what your Creator advised. Make your own changes first.