responding like Jesus
SCRIPTURE: Numbers 20
Jesus teaches, “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” [Luke 6:27-28].
How do we handle criticism, opposition, disagreement?
How we respond can help or hinder our testimony to Jesus.
Anger, revenge, bitterness are not healthy responses to opposition.
Moses’ response to the grumbling of Israel is anger.
On the one hand we can say it is understandable; but when in rage he yells at them and violently strikes the rock in God’s Name, he actually dishonours the God He is seeking to honour.
The same is true for us; when we respond in a worldly, angry way to criticism, opposition or disagreement, we are actually dishonouring the Lord.
In Moses and Aaron’s case, they lost his right to enter the promised land (though not His eternal acceptance with God).
What do we lose?
We can lose our credibility, or the successful reception of our testimony.
We may turn people away from the Jesus we are claiming to defend!
Compare this to how Israel responds to Edom’s refusal to let Israel pass through the land.
They do not defy or fight them, they take another route.
Even though Edom is a “brother” nation (their roots go back to Esau, Jacob’s brother), the people do not claim their right, or demand justice; instead they turn away, or turn the other cheek as it were.
We are followers of the Prince of Peace.
His way is our way, the way of undeserved grace and compassion.
Even though we may be unjustly treated, even though we may have ‘rights’, the way of Jesus is the way of humility, compassion, grace, love.
Even though anger and revenge might be the “natural” response to injustice, it is not the Jesus response.
This does not mean that we become doormats.
We may continue to state the truth, we may point out the injustice, but we will not do so with anger or a vengeful spirit.
With His help we will love our opponents, we will pray for them, we will bless them, we will do good to them.
In this way we can win them over with God’s love.
Lord, this kind of humility and grace is hard. I know how anger and vengeance can stir in me. Strengthen me in Your love and grace and peace.