I think all of us are guilty at times of reading Scripture with glazed eyes and a dull heart. We become so familiar with it that it loses its impact and wonder. We can forget that this God-breathed text is meant to take us beyond the natural. And when we forget that, we miss out on some serious transformation.
For example . . . are these instructions that immediately come to mind when you’ve just been insulted?
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Prov. 15:1)
“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19–20)
Really? Do we yawn through those words and then go on our merry way unaffected? Or do I believe that a soft answer, a gentle reply to an angry spouse, friend, or coworker, really can turn away wrath?
Humility is not my first reaction to insult, but it is the way of Christ. Humility goes beyond our natural tendency and requires walking in the power of the Spirit because it calls for soft answers, gentle tones, sincere love—and yes—even blessing our offender.
You mean I have to bless that person who is being rude or harsh? I can’t give them the “you’re an idiot” look? How about that “eye for an eye” principle? That sounds pretty good when my blood starts to boil . . .
Nope, Scripture makes a clear case for humility, and it has everything to do with the gospel.
I’m not talking about that false humility where we try to one-up our offender with a superior “meekness” that smacks of insincerity. Walking in the humility of Christ is hard because it requires death to our pride and the ripping away of any false notions of personal goodness.
That’s what is so appealing about Christ. Even an arrogant watching world is arrested by His noble gentleness. It flies in the face of a “me-first,” self-centered, entitlement mentality. It is refreshingly beautiful and disarming. When we begin to love and admire Christ’s character, we have a greater desire for our offender to experience Him through our humble response rather than throwing out a harsh rebuke.
Try this exercise with me. Imagine reading 1 Peter 2:21–23 right after you’ve received a cutting remark. How will you respond to your offender?
“To this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 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.”
When I read that, when I gaze intently at Jesus on the cross and adore His beautiful humility, how can I do anything but bless my offender? While He was enduring the humility of the cross, He was blessing me—filthy, vile, wretched, wicked me! I was His enemy, yet He died to sin that I might “live to righteousness.”
Humility doesn’t come naturally. That’s why we have to go beyond the natural.
How do you normally respond to an ugly insult? How might you respond the next time?