Imagine two people are in a relationship and they live by the rule “giving good when you receive bad.” Another way to think about this: when two people fall in love and get married, or when two people become friends, they do it for good reasons. No one ever said, “I love you because you’re so mean. Marry me!” Most relationships form because people are good to each other and deeply care.
When someone has a bad day and says something sarcastic, the other one gets hurt and says something less than loving. Then the first one withdraws, etc. In other words, the relationship is good until one of them gives something that is less than good. Then the other one returns less than good, and they are on a downward slide.
That’s our natural bent because that’s human nature. But the person who knows how to give better than they receive will quickly turn the situation around by swallowing their pride or seeing what a brat they are being. They go to the other and say, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” Then the relationship turns around and moves upward, instead of downward.
Many in our society want to pull others down into their own dysfunction. They prefer to be prideful and not do the work of swallowing their pride and humbling themselves, than preserve the relationship and get on the pathway of growth. This is evident in the fatherless homes, broken marriages and plethora of pain today.
Yet when you choose to obey God’s word and overcome bad with good, then when someone fails you, you give him or her what you need when you are not giving your best. Sometimes you need understanding and kindness; sometimes you need acceptance; sometimes you need information; sometimes you need a kind piece of honesty, a caring confrontation, or just to know that someone is by your side.
But whatever it is you need, you need something that is good, not bad. You need something that is redemptive when you are at your worst, not something hurtful.
When you choose to give good when you’ve received bad, you are fulfilling the law of “turning the other cheek.” You’ll also find that the fights you have are harder to have – or at least, to last. Choose to be a source of redemptive love, and show others Christ.
Extend yourself like God did for us when He came to our level and suffered innocently for us, trying to bring us up to His level. Your spouse needs that from you, and you need that in order to have your relationships get better.
When you give better than you have received, you are sowing seeds of love, kindness, mercy and peace – and you are showing the world the heart of Jesus.
Christy Demetriades, Ph.D.