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Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy. Proverbs 14:10

An old Native American saying goes something like this: “Never judge a man until you have walked two miles in his moccasins.” This saying should be the battle cry of each of us as we travel life’s journey. We should think twice, or even three times before we judge the attitudes and actions of other people. We may not like what we see. We may disagree completely with their response to events in their lives. But we should never make a judgment about why they are doing what they do.

God wired each of us differently. Parents know this. What other explanation is there for the way their children grow up? Two lives brought into the world by the same parents. Both have the same opportunities. Both have the same background experiences. Yet one child will grow up angry and the other patient and kind; one child will be a people person while the other is more of a social misfit; One will follow the rules while the other will seek every chance they get to break them; one will love and serve God while the other will reject faith.

No one reacts the same exact way to any situation. Yet we tend to expect that of people. If God works one way in your life, you expect Him to work the same way in someone else’s life. You may enjoy working with your hands while someone else enjoys office work or computer work. Is one better than the other? Is one more rewarding? To you maybe, but not to someone else.

Proverbs 14:10 reminds us of two great truths for Christ-followers. First of all, take great care in how you respond or react to someone’s actions or attitudes. You may see them as being inappropriate and they may be. But until you know the whole story, don’t assume you know the reason someone acts the way they do.

Secondly, remember that God knows your heart. Just as He expects us to be patient and understanding with those around us, He is patient and understanding towards us. He knows, better than anyone else, why you are struggling with whatever issue is troubling you today. He understands and desires to come close to you so that he can love you and encourage you.

There is a third lesson to learn from this proverb. The last phrase says: “no one else can share its joy”. There will be times when people will fail to understand why you are so happy. They may try to dispel that joy by pointing out the darkness and turmoil around you. Don’t allow them to keep you from living a life full of happiness and fulfillment. Joy isn’t about surroundings and circumstances. Joy is about inner peace that is only received through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Your Heavenly Father loves you. Others will say they understand you, but God really does understand you. His sincere and passionate desire is for relationship with you. Don’t let others rob you of all that God has for you. Focus on Him. Your troubles may not disappear, but the inner peace you gain through Jesus will empower you through life’s distress.

PRAYER: Dear God. There are so many people telling me how I should feel. They tell me they understand, but they don’t. They aren’t even close. I thank and praise you for the truth that you do love me and understand me. You look on my heart and see my every emotion. You understand why I am the way I am. Guard me from losing the joy that I have in you. Protect me from those who want to rob me of my joy. Amen.

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July 2010
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