Friday, April 29, 2011

Insults, Criticism & Lies

"When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats.  Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him Who judges justly"
(1 Peter 2:23).

Growing up, I was usually one of the smaller guys in my class.  I remember starting the 8th grade being 4'8" and weighing 77 pounds.  And, to add "insult to injury," my head has always been the same size.  It's just taken 30 something years to grow into it!  I was the model by which "bobble head dolls" were fashioned!  I'm still waiting on royalty checks.  I was a constant source for school yard fodder.  I was an easy target, and definitely didn't have the physical stature to defend myself.  But make no mistake, I was fully aware of what I did have.  I had a quick wit and a sharp tongue and wouldn't think twice about ripping quickly through my unseeing attacker.

There's not usually much lag time in between someone hearing an insult and returning one in like manner.  That has become an instinctive response and has become the expected norm in our culture.  People feel the need to defend themselves and to avenge themselves.  Jesus' example, however, presents a very different angle in dealing with insults, criticism, and lies.  He did not defend Himself.  He knew who He was.  He was confident in who He was.  He knew He was already defended because He had entrusted Himself to the One who judges with righteousness, not immaturity, malice, or bias.

There are and will be many days when you will encounter opportunities to give back what has been given to you.  You might even feel validated and justified in your own eyes to do so...vindicated, even, after doing so.  But, remember these two key truths:
1) God does not hold us to the same standard as we seem to hold others.  He's more gracious than we are.  He's more forgiving than we are.  He's less offended than we are.
2) That was not the example of Jesus.  He didn't retaliate.  He maintained His focus on God.  He knew that, in the end, God would be His defender.  You can't have a better defender than that!
As you begin, or even continue, your day today, there may be instances when someone insults you, criticizes something you've done or said, or perhaps they may even lie in regards to you.  Your first inclination may be to react in like manner.  It's a "quick fix" and it seems justified.  Ultimately, you're just wanting to know that someone feels pain like you do.  Remember today, that someone does know how you feel.  Jesus.  He's been there.  Commit today to not retaliate, not to give back the insult, but to stay entrusted to the One you have surrendered.  And, surrender to Him fully and with confidence that He will be your defender and your avenger.  The battle is not, never has been, and never will be yours.  It's the Lord's!