Meekness Does Not Equal Weakness
As I’ve gotten older, I find that I’m much quicker to say what I think, especially when something pisses me off. (pardon the frankness) When I’m insulted, degraded, or accused of one fault or another, part of me wants to open up a verbal octagon and deliver swift retribution. In some ways, this isn’t entirely bad. As a textbook passive aggressive, it’s good for me to not always ignore offenses until they build up to the point where I can’t deal with it anymore, and I blow up and lash out in hurtful ways.
Recently, my wife gave me a list of insults that someone gave to her regarding me. As she went through the account, I initially felt that urge to react. Probably one of the most difficult reflexes to manage in life is the need to defend ourselves when attacked. If you throw a rock at me, I want to get a bigger rock and throw it harder at you. That’s our automatic reaction. It’s basic, we don’t have to learn it, and it’s sometimes effective. Especially if you’re being attacked by a grizzly bear. Most of the time though, we aren’t battling savage beasts in the wild, we’re looking at people. We’re squaring off with another human being, and the red that fills our vision is not coming from a set of rose colored glasses.
What surprised me a little this last time though, was that after the initial flare up and need to defend myself, I felt a calm rise up and subdue the fight or flight mechanism. You see, what I’m growing to understand, is that throwing rocks never solves anything. In fact, too often, it is the rock throwing that can permanently damage a relationship. If you’ve ever had enough of them thrown at you, then you know how difficult it is to even get around that situation again. If you throw enough rocks at someone, they will eventually be too scared to even get around you. Maybe that’s the goal?
The dilemma is that we usually can’t even defend ourselves without throwing a rock or two in the process. So what are we supposed to do? Am I suggesting that we just let people slander us without even defending ourselves, let alone fighting back?
Let me show you an example of how Christ reacted in a similar situation: (Jesus being taken before the government of their day right before his crucifixion)
“Jesus was placed before the governor, who questioned him: “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?” Jesus said, “If you say so.” But when the accusations rained down hot and heavy from the high priests and religious leaders, he said nothing. Pilate asked him, “Do you hear that long list of accusations? Aren’t you going to say something?” Jesus kept silence–not a word from his mouth. The governor was impressed, really impressed.” Matthew 27:11-14 msg
Let’s think about this for just a second. Jesus – blameless – guilty of nothing – responsible for everything good – Son of God – able to call about a gazillion angels into the room and zap every one of his accusers out of existence – that guy, didn’t defend himself! Why not? Never mistake meekness for weakness.
Jesus understood that this attack, although unjust and cruel, was part of God’s plan. That’s perhaps hard for a lot of us to swallow, even for believers. It’s difficult to think that something bad happening to us could be a piece in the puzzle God is assembling in our lives. God didn’t make those rulers attack Jesus, He didn’t make the religious leaders crucify Him either, but He did use their actions to bring about a greater purpose.
Some days, it feels like we’re being crucified on some level. We feel like the world has ganged up against us without a cause and is looking for a way to nail us to a wall. What you have to remember though, is that people are not your enemies. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 Christs desire was not to obliterate Pilate or the religious leaders of his day. His desire was to save them. His desire was to set them free from the jealousy, anger, bitterness, hatred, and envy that was causing them to send Him to the cross. Perhaps one of his greatest acts of love was when He simply remained silent.
Here’s a challenge for you today. The next time that someone attacks you, lay down your need to defend yourself. If you’re a believer, put it into God’s hands and watch him take care of the situation. You’ll be amazed at how much better He is at problem resolution than you are. :) It may be that God’s desire is to simply show the person attacking you a little glimpse of Christ. I also know that this is one of the most difficult things you’ll have to do, so I’m not suggesting that it’s as simple as merely turning the other cheek. There’s pain and hurt involved. I think that it’s probably impossible to do if you’re not repeatedly taking the situation to God and genuinely asking for his heart and desires to replace your own.
Let me leave you with one last verse that seems so very appropriate.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18