Proverbs 3: 27
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to do it.
Don’t withhold good from those to whom it’s due. This is the first negative to-do for us, and it is fundamental. Approach people with this in mind: what are they owed?
What do you owe your mom? If you’re a kid you owe her obedience. If you’re a teenager you owe her respect. Whatever your age, Mom deserves from you that she be proud of you and not be grieved or frustrated by you.
How much time do you owe your boss? What should your children have from you by the time they leave your house?
Exodus 23:4 – If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him.
You owe it to your enemy to return his animal. Which means, you have obligations to people that are more fundamental than your current attitude toward them.
Here’s what the Apostle of our Savior said in 1 Peter 2:17: Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
I don’t like the emperor. I don’t feel authentic being civil toward him. I have to be me.
No – in approaching people your feelings aren’t paramount. Neither is your sense of authenticity. Neither is your sense of identity, your personality.
I can’t emphasize enough how in the time that we live how different this approach to people is. We are shaped to think of other concerns: how have I been treated before by them? How am I coming across to them? How do I feel in this exchange? Is this going to go anywhere? What’s in it for me?
But this is the will of God: before other considerations, first think through what you owe to people.