One of the most challenging and hard to understand attributes of human beings is the inconsistent manner in which they relate to others. With some people, you just have no idea how they’re going to treat you from day to day. Catch them on a good day and they’re all smiles and genuinely glad to see you. See that same person a few days later or in a different context and you’re left wondering what you did (or if you smell). One day they go out of the way to talk to you, and another day they are ducking down the frozen food aisle at Wal-Mart hoping you didn’t see them. It’s hard to relate to people and build relationships with individuals who change like the shifting sands from moment to moment. It’s difficult to get along with people when you never know which version of the person you’re going to run into today.
In contrast, I’ve noticed the routines, patterns, and consistency of a certain fluffy poodle named Princess. Her day begins early in the morning by crawling slowly to the head of our bed to give me her morning greeting (for the record she’s also cleaner than a lot if people I know). She lays there, front paws and head on my chest and hind quarters standing on the bed, refusing to move until she’s satisfied I properly acknowledged her existence. She ends every evening with that same habitual puppy hug. PeePoo also warmly greets you every time you reenter her presence regardless of whether you’ve been gone five minites or five hours. This canine time amnesia makes it impossible for her to harbor a grudge or nurse bitterness. She literally treats her family the same, hour by hour and day by day.
How much better all our relationships would be if we could develop a little time and hurt amnesia like Princess. How different our lives would be if we could understand (as PeePoo seems to) that people are people and they’re going to do what they’re going to do. We can’t control how people treat us, but we have total power over our response. How much more joy and peace we would have if we just decided to treat one another consistently and systematically the same way in any context at any time. Unfortunately, most people are clock watchers and wound protectors, and these tendencies are at the root of our interpersonal confusion and inconsistency. Our relational dysfunction is clearly evidenced by our inconsistent treatment of others.
The Lord who changes not is our standard and example. God is love and He treats us the same day after day no matter what we do or how we treat Him or others. I want to encourage you to focus every day on treating people consistently the same Christ-like loving way. Nothing indicates growth and maturity in our lives like consistently and habitually displaying God’s love and mercy, even when others do not treat us this way.