When we look at people who have brought trouble into their lives by their own foolishness, we say things like, ‘Serves them right’ or we mock them on social media: ‘What kind of imbecile says something like this?’ When we see people of the other political party defeated, we just gloat. This is all a way of detaching ourselves from them. We distance ourselves from them partly out of pride and partly because we don’t want their unhappiness to be ours. God doesn’t do that. (121)
Once the honeymoon period of missionary work wears off, the sinners we work among can be downright annoying. The triumph of knowing the local language well enough to communicate clearly is a dangerous gift. The ability to argue your rights or put someone in their place could grieve the Holy Spirit. As James admonishes, “from the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:10 ESV hereafter).
Practicing the compassion of God toward local people in the daily small annoyances is a training ground for missionaries to respond well on the day malicious people slander and persecute.