1 Corinthians 4:12-13, 20 We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us. We appeal gently when evil things are said about us … For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s own power.
Wow. This is where the rubber really hits the road, isn’t it? I find the only thing harder than responding as Paul models for us is doing so when the target is not me directly, but someone I love.
Recently, for example, critical things were said to my husband in a public space. The person had not come to him privately to express his concerns. Dave listened, took to heart what the person said, took the matter to the Lord, and is working diligently to make changes in his life. He let the offense roll right over him. The relationship, thank God, is intact. Which might not be the case if I had reacted the way I wanted.
Because I fumed. I thought of all kinds of things I wished I had said to defend Dave. I felt hurt and disappointed in this person whom I consider a close friend. It took me a couple of days before I too took the matter to the Lord, confessed my anger and reactivity and defensiveness, and allowed him to cleanse me and restore me to peace and the ability to pray for blessing in the person’s life.
What I am deeply grateful for in this case is that I did keep my mouth shut, rather than escalating the situation and adding insult to the injury. Thank you for that, Lord. Thank you for painful experiences that have shown me the wisdom of biting my tongue until emotions are not so high and until I am in tune with the Holy Spirit.
And yes, maybe an appropriate time will come for addressing the person’s action. If so, I hope it will be characterized by blessing, patience and gentleness—which would not have been the case initially.
God’s power for living is resurrection power. Life triumphing over death. Speaking what is life-giving rather than death-dealing. The Holy Spirit makes this possible when I let him have control; when I ask him to overrule my immaturity and impulses and defensiveness.
On the cross, having been whipped, scorned, humiliated, stripped, and condemned on false charges, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). That is power. Thousands of times more potent than had he called legions of angels to deliver him. Kingdom of God power. Counter-cultural power. Counter-carnal power.
Please, Lord. Easter in me.