One of the most incredible characteristics of Jesus Christ, during His life here on earth was that of self-control. There we see a God who could have called an army of angels to His side at any given time, but He chose the way of the cross. In obedience to the Father, He chose a path of persecution and death, so that we might come to salvation.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. - Isaiah 53:7
I'll never have that kind of strength--none of us will--but as we look to His example, we can apply much to our lives.
How do we handle our hurts? When do we defend ourselves and when is it time to walk away from the pain? And if we do walk away, who do we run to for refuge?
Here's the thing... Our primary purpose in life isn't that of defending ourselves—we are called to defend our God and His Word. Life isn't about stepping on stage for the applause of our peers, it's about letting the love of God shine so that others might be drawn toward Him.
That's why Jesus overturned the money changers tables. He was protecting God's house. He never acted that way to defend himself, in fact they said all kinds of terrible things about him based on their lack of understanding and hatred, but time and again, He just let it go.
There are times that falsehoods should be corrected—for sure—but it must be done in love. Letting it go is never the easy thing to do, but we aren't called to do the easy—we are called to be different, and to prove what is good, and acceptable, and the perfect will of God
A gentle spirit is an attractive one, and a kind word turns away wrath.
Loving those who are the most difficult to love sets us apart as people with genuine character. But it doesn't matter if that impresses the people we love or not, what matters is that we are doing it for the sake of our Lord.
I've received so many letters from women who have told me that they have tried to make amends with people—friends, relatives, parents—but metaphorically speaking all they got in return is a slap in the face. I think the sting of the slap is something that many of us can relate to.
And then there are some women who put everything they have into their marriage, but their husbands don't respond with the same level of commitment. They send out love, but get so little back.
We can try to make things right, but sometimes people aren't ready and willing to mend bridges just yet.
While that's a tough road to walk, the truth is that it doesn't matter. This next part is very important: Living a sacrificial life isn't for the benefit of the recipient; it’s a gift to our Lord. God’s gift of love to the world was His son Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death was an act of obedience to the Father. His entire life was a gift of obedience to the Father saying, “Not my will, but thine be done.”
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. - Romans 12:1&2
Some people can look at that verse and say, "Yeah--I'll live a sacrificial life, but only if it's a comfortable one, and only if I'm getting as much as I give."
His walk to the cross had absolutely nothing to do with the righteousness or acceptance of man, but had everything to do with His love for the Father.
We all know that there were many days when Jesus could have--and many people would have--told someone off, but He didn't. He lived to please the Father in heaven, not Himself. He knew that He had an eternal reward waiting for Him and that was better than anything this world had to offer.
I could leave you with a thousand and one thoughts on this topic today, but I’m going to leave you with the one that’s been on my heart the most lately. It’s the one that nudges me to keep reaching out in love, to keep turning the other cheek, and to keep my eyes focused on God. It is this:
and at evening let your hands not be idle,
for you do not know which will succeed,
whether this or that,
or whether both will do equally well.
~ Ecclesiastes 11:6, NIV
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