Scripture References (ESV)
Mathew 26:63 “But Jesus remained silent…”
1st Peter 2:23 “When he was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.”
1st Peter 3:8-9 “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”
1st Peter 3:15-16 “…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”
1st Peter 5:5 “…Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
I”ll admit, not throwing flaming arrows from my mouth is one mountain I have to climb daily. I was born with a stout heart. I have been full of passion since I was a child. My mom would feed me corn on the cob as a toddler. I would finish it, throw it on the floor from the height of my infant throne and yell, “MORE!” After all, I was entitled to it, right? This is how many of us react in conversation. Not only with unbelievers but with the ones who are joined to our own body. The Word clearly states that we are members of one body. The hand does not say to the foot, I don’t need you, we need each other, whether we agree with everyone’s theology or not. Jesus Himself told the disciples that if anyone does a mighty work in His name they wouldn’t be able to speak evil of Him. The one who is not against us is for us! Why, oh why, do we as believers come against each other when we should be backing each other up. Now look, I know there are some crazy teachings out there but if someone is declaring Jesus is the Son of God who died for my sins and is the only way to eternal life, they are a brother!
We can have disagreements. Ask anyone who is married. They disagree all the time. Does that mean they hate each other? Are they going around to everyone and calling them false? Unless it’s a case of infidelity I highly doubt it. There are exceptions to every rule but Peter plainly states we are to have minds full of sympathy, brotherly love, and humility. Our hearts must be stout but they must also be tender! The Son of Man had the stoutest of all hearts and yet the most tender heart ever to beat. His heart ached for the need of the world. He never preached hatred, EVER! He filled the needs of hurting people then sent them in the right direction. Now more than ever the world needs to see a body of believers that loves each other. How can we speak of the great love of God and have hatred in our hearts for someone who calls Jesus Lord!? It’s ridiculous to think we are being a good witness when we can’t even get along with each other!
When Jesus was standing before the Sanhedrin He had every flaming accusation thrown at Him. He was hit, spit on and jeered. In all this, He “remained silent.” He did not come back with some pithy comment. He became the punching bag in order for us to be forgiven for throwing punches! He was tough as seven-inch nails and tender as a rose pedal. It takes grit to absorb lies and hurtful speech. It takes resolve to not stand up for yourself no matter what is being said about you. This is the life of the true believer. It’s quite convicting, isn’t it? Just in the last week, I have learned this lesson in humility. Every fiber of my being wanted to lash out, wanted vindication. This is not the way!
In everything we do, we must do it with gentleness and respect. We must live like Jesus if we want to change the world like Jesus did. First, we must start loving each other. I say the sky is blue, you say it’s green, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the Kingdom of God. None of that will matter in eternity. What will matter is what you said or did. Did you fight to further the Kingdom or to hinder it? Love is the answer, God knew it, Jesus knew it and so do I. We must love each other before we can ever love the hurt and lost in the world. They look to us, let’s give them something to be for, not against!