How often do we ignore people? I’m not saying it’s right or wrong – just a question for reflection! I find that I read an email or a text message or even perhaps FB message. Often I end up deciding to reply later in detail or after some thought to it, and then I forget about it. Afterwards, in the even that I do remember, there will then be some obstacle to prohibit replying – genuine or perhaps procrastination or busy-ness. There are of course times when I intentionally do not reply – to discourage certain behaviours, to stand my ground – for example if someone is trying to be domineering or using me as a scape goat or perhaps over stepping boundaries in friendship… or sometimes when it’s simply not worth replying as it would trigger an argument from which there are no positive outcomes. An argument is superb if both parties are willing to discuss from a point of reconciliation through sorting out differences.
Anyway, this topic was sparked after I read an article recently on the Psychology Today FB page. I couldn’t find the article to recap. However I recall wondering what this meant to us as Christians. What are we portraying when we ‘ignore’? For example, someone may ask for a favour or forward a prayer request. However, how often do we respond to those – especially to the emails where someone is approaching us for some help or the other? Are we displaying respect to the other person or responding to some need or are we being selfish?
Before we go any further, let’s turn the tables around. How do you like it when you send out a pressing email – whether for an urgent help or to clear out an issue and strive for peace if not reconciliation etc and you do not get any reply at all? How do you feel? Wouldn’t you appreciate a response back from them, some response – “I’m busy but will get back to you soon” or “I’m not sure if I can help but I will try to help or get someone else to help” or “I’m sorry I cannot help in this situation” or “this idea doesn’t appeal to me”… well something to show you are being heard and respected?!! If so, isn’t it hypocritical not to do the same to the other person? Doesn’t God ask us to love our neighbours as ourselves? If we don’t like being ignored, then what are we doing ignoring others? It’s no point getting irritated with another when we ourselves are guilty on that count. Does “what you sow is what you reap” apply to this situation? Well, if you are always ignoring others – then don’t expect a helping hand from God in a time of need – let alone when you want to strive to be heard!
We need to definitely pray and seek God’s will when someone has a request. On the other hand, we need to check God’s Word too. God makes it clear that we are to live at peace with each other as long as it depends on us. So if you don’t want to respond to the other person approaching you to resolve a conflict and be at peace – well the other person is going to be fault in God’s eyes but no you. Simply because God wants us to love one another and by our love for one another to be known that we are His disciples. God says if someone has something against you leave your gift at the altar and get that right. This is what it means to love your neighbour.
Having said that there are some requests that aren’t that clear. By helping we may even be feeding into someone’s problem or addictions. Yes, we are not able to help in every situation – I agree. It may not be God’s will for us to help in that situation. Sometimes we need to ignore a request for our safety and security. However, are we able to let the person know what our situation is? I don’t think we necessarily need to give an explanation but at least are we courteous enough to let them know whether we are considering helping or whether it’s out of our capacity. At the end of the day we are accountable to God for our decisions – to make decisions in accordance to the good works He has for each one of us. However, if you don’t appreciate being ignored, is it right for you to ignore the other?
If you feel a tug at your heart reading this post, please do sit at His feet and ask God how you should respond to each and every correspondence that come your way? What is your witness as a believer? May the Holy Spirit reveal the right steps every instant!