Ever been near someone and notice the air becomes droplets of toxins exuding from their thundercloud? They don’t have to utter a word; the chill in their being reflects the way they examine the world. Defensive barbs wrap around them so tightly that they are just as imprisoned and wounded as the pain they attempt to inflict upon others.

How do you interact with people who disrupt your atmosphere with sour judgments, snide remarks, and the ferocious wielding of their clanging swords of silence?

”But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).

“Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14).

Withholding God’s love to those who are challenging, means we ultimately withhold God’s love from Love Himself, as His Spirit lives in us and we are ambassadors of Jesus Christ.

“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me” (Acts 1:8).

When we react in the flesh rather than depending on the Spirit, we often lose our witness. Yes, we often respond selfishly, even if we think we are standing up for a cause or another person. Most of the time when we react from a quick trigger point this means we have not expanded our decisions.

What does it mean to expand our decisions? To expand our decisions means to take a moment and see who and what our responses affects beyond our needs: needs to be accepted, heard, and revered. Prayer steps in as a buffer between selfishness and God.

Prayer changes our heart condition, even if the people who exasperate us remain unchanged. By drawing nearer to Christ, we react differently to the world around us. We serve sinners (just like us) with more of a humble heart, knowing that we are serving Christ… the same Christ who died for us and released us from death by sin.

And we must ask ourselves, even if we feel insulted or justified, what does not forgiving do but make us reflect the very ugliness we spurn? Forgive those who bleed pain from behind their defensive barbs, even if they are blind to Christ. Why? Because they need forgiveness no more and no less than we need forgiveness. The pain we harbor in resentment is not from God; these are clever tactics from Satan to ignore the power of the Spirit within us. We can only become fully free from such a stronghold when we surrender to the Spirit, allowing Him to enable us to love as Christ loves.

Perhaps one of the more challenging steps is to bless those who spurn us. Yes, bless them. Release them into the care of the Lord. Ask God to give you the strength to show His love for you, for them, and through you. Also ask God to be with them, heal them, and wrap His love around them. Yes, give them the same thoughtful consideration you sincerely pray for yourself.

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you’” (Luke 6:27-28).

In loving, praying, serving, and forgiving those who are ugly to us, we cannot help but demonstrate the love of Jesus by allowing Him to guide our thoughts and actions. As a result, one of the most fitting responses to anyone is to show them the love of Jesus.

Love. Pray. Serve. Forgive. Show them Jesus.

Who has God put on your path that desperately needs to be shown the love of Jesus? Are you willing to put pride aside, expand your decisions, and ask God to lead you to His best response?

SGLY, dear reader.

(Smile, God Loves You.)

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. You can find her newly released books, “H.E.R.O. Faith” and “Bad Disciples” on Amazon. To submit feedback on SGLY, please contact news@amtrib. com.