We all have at least one person in our lives that when they start talking, before they finish their sentence we have formulated our defense in our head. “But, you didn’t” . . . “or apparently you’re unaware of” . . . a little jab here, an upper cut there, maybe even a left hook—the verbal knock down drag out can temporarily make us feel better. I received a phone call like that once. I sat and listened for 15 minutes of what seemed like an eternity. I could visualize the virtual smoke pouring out the person’s ears as each item was listed of each and every time I hurt or disappointed was described. As I listened, I made a mental list of why #1 wasn’t true. #2 might be a little true. #3 I have NO idea where that one came from, etc. Each item that was listed, accusing me of doing things that hurt someone’s feelings, and all because of what I could see was more often than not, miscommunication. But, at this point that didn’t matter. The damage had been done. What I have found, is that when you start to defend yourself, the other party gets even more defensive, swinging insults right back, taking more proverbial jabs at your character, and maybe even a couple below the belt.
As I thought about this, I had to ask myself what Jesus did and what did He say when someone wanted to go 9 rounds. Fortunately for me, there is quite a bit of information.
In Matthew 5:22, Jesus tells us, whoever is angry with his brother, or insults him, will be held liable. In contrast, in Matthew 5:44 Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. I’m thinking there are two sides to our behavior—either way, we are to act ‘perfect, as our heavenly father is perfect’. (which by the way, simply means we see the world through God’s eyes. If you’ve never heard Brandon Heath’s song, Give Me Your Eyes-check it out on YouTube).
How did Jesus respond when He was justified in His actions and people still wanted to go a few rounds at his expense? Mark 14:61 tells us He remained calm and silent, listening to the insults not returning evil for evil.
Even if our actions are justified, getting in the ring for a knock out drag down session of words is never a good idea. The ol’ adage of sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me is the most repeated lie in all of history. Proverbs 17:28 tells us, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
I have a memory like an elephant. I never forget the emotional scars. They are like tattoos that will never be removed in this lifetime. So, what happens once you have averted the boxing ring, and yet all those accusations are still swirling around in your head? Let me suggest the following:
- 1. Tell yourself the truth—whatever words are used to lure you into the ring, remind yourself, out loud if necessary, of the truth. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32
- Ask yourself if what they said really matters. Is any of it true? If there is any truth, take responsibility for what is yours. Ask God for forgiveness for any malice you may have had in hurting the other individual. I John 1:9
- Take a moment to read Luke 6:27-36. It’s a great reminder of how Jesus would desire us to respond and a reminder of the truth!
Remaining silent isn’t the easiest avenue, but it’s definitely the wisest and it’s really hard to go nine rounds with someone who is not fighting back.
Tomorrow—8-ty Proof Holiday