Buddy, like many dogs, is loving and sweet-natured. He’s slowly learning not to stand so close to my heels because I tend to be klutzy and accidentally drop things on him. He doesn’t retaliate, by growling or biting me on the shin, but he will step back a few feet further away.
But, for most people, it’s very difficult not to “return evil for evil, or insult for insult” (1 Peter 3:9, Apostle Peter). It’s my first instinct to want to retaliate when people treat me poorly. Fortunately, the longer I’m a Christian, and the more I learn about how loving God truly is, I’m becoming more self-controlled.
When I was in high school, and before I was a Christian, a guy walked up to me and said, “You’re ugly.” His clique of friends were observing him. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he had hurt me, so I replied, “So what?” He was so taken aback, that he was speechless and his face showed utter astonishment. After he had recovered himself, and apparently to salvage some dignity in front of his friends, he pronounced, “You’re weird” and walked back to join his group. It didn’t feel good to be insulted, but I had the satisfaction of knowing that I didn’t take his bait.
Jesus, also, taught not to let people bait us. But how do we accomplish this? Even with “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16), it’s usually our first instinct to retaliate with unkind words (unless you’re one of those unusual, easy-going people whom are never rattled by anything).
What we have to do is change our focus: keep it on Christ and the future and not on the present trouble.
Jesus endured the torments of the Cross by setting his focus “on the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2); He looked beyond His pending death and kept his focus, instead, on the millions of people who would be drawn into a personal relationship with Him for eternity because He suffered the punishment for their sins.
Peter successfully walked on water when he kept his focus on Jesus; when he began to look at the wild waves and the wind roaring around him, he began to sink. (Matthew 14:28-30).
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me (Jesus). Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great.”–Matthew 5:11
So this is my plan when someone yells at me, or criticizes me, because I hold a Biblically-based opinion and not a worldly one:
“Thank you very much for blessing me. Jesus says that when you insult me because of my belief in Him and His Word, I’ve got a big reward in Heaven. So thanks very much.”
I guarantee you that is absolutely NOT the reaction they are expecting. They want to provoke a fight. Don’t let them have their way.
Give it a try and see how they react. And let me know if you try it. I’d love to hear your story.
Thanks for reading. Have a great week. God bless from Dawn and Buddy.
Late last year someone insulted me because my politics differed from theirs. Mindful that I was a guest in someone’s home, just as they were, I calmly responded that I still loved them and gave them a kiss on the cheek. It totally diffused the situation. I give the Holy Spirit credit for that one.
But how do you have the Holy Spirit at work in your life, helping you to react in ways that are more godly? By humbling yourself and admitting that you need His leading and guidance in your life. Jesus had to die for our sins because God demands perfection to enter His presence. None of us can ever be perfect. But because God loves us and desires a relationship with us, Jesus took the punishment for God’s wrath against sin so that we can draw near to God. Once you admit you’re a sinner and invite God into your life to guide you away from evil and to walk in His ways (as detailed in the Bible), the Holy Spirit comes to indwell you and guide you into all righteousness.
It’s not an instantaneous process. You don’t suddenly become perfectly good. It’s a lifelong journey. As you well know, Christians often fail but God helps them to dust themselves off and resume their journey toward Heaven.
Dear Lord, I admit that I cannot come into relationship with You and enter the Kingdom of Heaven by trying to be good. I can never reach perfection or ever be good enough. I admit that I’m a sinner and have fallen short of Your standards of goodness. Please forgive my sins. I acknowledge that Jesus Christ, God in the Flesh (Matthew 1:23), became human and died for my sin. I ask the Holy Spirit to enter my life and lead me and “guide me into the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).
If you said this prayer, welcome to the family of God. Please find a Bible-based church where you can fellowship with other believers and grow in a knowledge of Who God is.