Having Favor With People
Pinellas Park, Florida
The English poet John Donne once wrote, "No man is an island unto himself." We might amend Donne's statement to "no Christian is an island unto himself. " Christianity is a religion of relationships with people. We cannot live a hermit-like existence and fulfill the commands of Christ. We have responsibilities in the home, the community, on our jobs and within the body of Christ. Christians need to learn how to get along with people.
The early Christians in Acts 2:47 were "praising God, and having favor with all the people." Their disposition and demeanor was one of getting along with each other and folks in the community. Being a Christian does not mean we are always fussing within and fighting without. While some folks may not like us because of our stand for truth, it ought not to be said that we are hard to get along with because of a poor attitude. Let us think of some practical suggestions that will help us in having favor with people.
Show An Interest In Others
Dale Carnegie said, "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you." This concept is not a trick just to use people. Nor is it simply an appropriate social grace. It is indeed a divine precept. Paul said, "Do not merely look out for your own personal interest but also for the interest of others" (Phil. 2:4, NASB). While Jesus Christ was on earth, He gave personal attention to people - their needs, desires and ambitions. Such accounts as the woman at the well (John 4:5-26) and Zaccheaus (Lk. 19:1-10) demonstrate this fact. We need to be like our Master and show an interest in others, if we are to enjoy their favor.
Care For Others
Coupled with an interest in people, there needs to be a genuine care and concern for the welfare of others. Many in our world have become cold and calloused toward the needs of their fellow man. Christians, however, are to be sensitive, caring and sharing people. "There should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another" (1 Cor. 12:26). This means we "rejoice with them that rejoice and weep with them that weep" (Rom. 12:15). Can we do that? Or, do we gleefully say concerning someone's problems, "Well, he had it coming to him"? Does envy and jealousy forbid us to rejoice in the good fortune of a friend or brother causing us to look at them with jaundiced eyes and bitter hearts? Do we care?
Another key in having favor with people is being cheerful. No one likes a sourpuss. Keep the corners of your mouth turned up. Hide your pains, pressures and problems under a smile. We will convert more people when the world sees Christians with a radiant, cheerful countenance. The Philippian letter characterizes the Christian's life as one of joy. The writer speaks of "the joy of faith" (1:25). He says, "we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus" (3:3). Is that us? Someone said they had seen happier faces on iodine bottles than in some worship services! Since Christianity is such a joyful way of life, why are many so sullen when we come together to praise God? If we experience the "joy of faith," why do we act so sour and surly in our homes, on our jobs and in the community? Smile brethren! Not only will you feel better (Prov. 17:22), but it will help you in having favor with people.
Keep An Open Mind
Sometimes we confuse matters of faith with our personal opinion. Listen to the other fellow's point of view; allow him to differ fromyou. Even in matters of faith we can differ without being difficult to get along with. We can discuss without being disgusting in our attitudes and actions. Remember Paul's inspired advice to Timothy: "And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves . . . " (2 Tim. 2:24-25).
Be Slow To Speak
How many disagreements with neighbors, disruptions in the home and divisions among brethren could have been avoided if we would have been "swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (Jas. 1: 19)? The wise man said, "A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger" (Prov. 15:1). This is hard for some of us, but having favor with people demands that we apply this divine principle in human relations.
Be Quick To Encourage
While we should be slow to criticize, we should be quick to encourage and edify one another. We need to be like the prophet of old who penned: "The Lord hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in a season to him that is weary" (Isa. 50:4). Become the kind of person who always has something good to say about someone else, a word of encouragement, or a compliment for a job well done. This will go a long way toward developing favor with people.
Practice The Golden Rule
When in doubt on how to treat someone or what to say, follow the law laid down by Jesus, sometimes known as the golden rule: "Therefore, whatsoever you want men to do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matt. 7:12). This rule sums up all principles of human relationships.
These suggestions can help us all in having favor with people. But the virtue is not in knowing what is right, but in doing what is right. Briefly think of some specific applications we can make of these principles in our daily lives.
(1) In our homes. Husbands love your wives. Be affectionate and courteous. Wives respect your husbands. Be interested in their activities. Talk kindly to each other and your children and teach them the same.
(2) In our neighborhoods. Speak well of your neighbors. Look for ways to help them. Let your light shine.
(3) Among brethren. Refrain from gossip and backbiting. Purge your heart of envy and jealousy. "Be kind one to another with brotherly love" (Rom. 12: 10). "Let each one of you regard one another as more important than himself" (Phil. 2:3).
(4) To non-Christian prospects. Be careful not to appear smug and self-righteous. Treat them with dignity and respect. Win their favor, so you can influence them to be receptive to the truth.
(5) Toward enemies. Love them. Pray for them. Refuse to sink to their level. Let God be the judge.
Having favor with people is not only good, but it is the will of God. Our suggestions are summed up in the words of Lord Balfour who said, "The best thing to give your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity."
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 12, pp. 353, 377