And the Lord’s slave must . . . be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient. (2 Timothy 2:24)
Abrasive people lurk in nearly every area of our lives. They enroll in our classes, they attend the same activities that we choose, they obtain jobs where we work, sometimes they even reside in our homes. Rude people, selfish people, hurtful people mix with kind and pleasant people unavoidably. We cannot associate only with those whom we enjoy. Those whom we do not enjoy are thrust upon us. And even those people with whom we like to interact sometimes make relationship mistakes, sometimes have grouchy days, sometimes disappoint us or wound us unintentionally.
Read Colossians 3:12-13.
· a friend who has offended him (Ephesians 4:32)
· a neighbor or relative who is poor (Proverbs 14:31 and 22:9)
· someone who is unkind to him (Romans 12:14)
· an associate who has wronged or cheated him (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
· a classmate who is worried (Proverbs 12:25)
· his animals (Proverbs 12:10)
Be especially wary of any signs of cruelty that you observe. Do not make the mistake of assuming that a man who is cruel to other people or cruel to animals will never treat you that way.
Read Philippians 2:4.
If he expects you to kindly and sacrificially look out for his interests, but he does not do the same for you, think carefully about your willingness to live with that before you commit to a permanent relationship. Most people have rather strong tendencies to be self-focused and to want to receive more kindness than they give, but watch for evidence of growth in this area in the man you are considering.
The good person brings good things out of his good treasury, and
the evil person brings evil things out of his evil treasury. (Matthew 12:35)
The quality of goodness is an all-round tendency toward behavior choices that conform to God’s moral laws.
Be one who is _________________ what is good.
Teach and be __________________ what is good.
Purified people will be __________________ what is good.
Be __________________________ what is good.
This principle is illustrated in the life of Hezekiah, one of the kings of Judah. Read 2 Chronicles 29:1-2 and 31:20-21.
Goodness does not come naturally to fallen humanity. In Psalm 14:2-3, David laments that God is not able to find even one man who does what is right—everyone is corrupt. It is, therefore, a behavior that must be learned by the people of God.
A man who is serious about walking with God will read the Bible and learn from it. In doing so, he will become well acquainted with God’s moral laws and behavioral expectations.
Read Ecclesiastes 12:14.
In order for a man to demonstrate goodness in his life, he must learn to distinguish good from evil and to choose the good.
· Does he often make decisions that he has not thought through carefully in light of what the Bible says?
Give an example:
· Does he ever take time to pray or search the Scriptures before acting?
Give an example:
· Does he ignore what God says if it is not what he wants to hear?
What evidence have you seen of this?
· Do his actions and opinions usually line up with the word of God?
· Is there any kind of evil that he does not avoid?
If so, what is it?
Is this something you are willing to live with if he never changes?
It takes time, and study, and practice to develop a habit of choosing goodness. It will not be accomplished without a desire to turn away from evil. To know if a man is growing in the character quality of goodness, watch his actions and listen to his words.
· Does he do good things for others when he has an opportunity, or does he ignore anything that might inconvenience him?
When have you seen this?
· Has he been accustomed to doing evil in the past?
If so, what evidence do you see of repentance and change?
· Does he rationalize wrong choices?
Give an example:
· Does he ridicule those who make right choices?
Is he angry if you will not agree with or participate in a wrong choice with him?
· What do his words reveal about what is stored in his heart (be specific)?