I can still see Jay Elliott’s shocked face as I burst through his front door almost 50 years ago with a “gang” of bees swirling around me. As I raced out his back door, I realized the bees were gone. Well, sort of—I’d left them in Jay’s house! Moments later, he came racing out his back door—chased by the bees I had brought to him.

I had more than a dozen stings, with little effect. Jay had a different experience. Though he’d been stung only once or twice by “my” bees, his eyes and throat swelled up in a painful allergic reaction. My actions had caused a lot of pain for my friend.

That’s a picture of what’s true in our interpersonal relationships too. We hurt others when our actions aren’t Christlike. Even after an apology, the “sting” sticks.

People would be right to expect an absence of harshness and an air of patience from those who follow Christ. We forget sometimes that people struggling with faith, or life, or both, watch Christians with expectation. They hope to see less anger and more mercy, less judgment and more compassion, less criticism and more encouragement. Jesus and Peter told us to live good lives so God is given the glory (Matt. 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12). May our actions and reactions point those around us to our loving Father.