|"Say that thing you just said, which made people mad, while looking in the mirror."|
WHICH WOULD MAKE someone who knows nothing about Jesus look your way twice and want to know why you are different, the meekness of a quiet spirit or red-faced belligerence? I can read the same sentence in many ways. A commercial, years ago, used only the word “dude” to make its point, but every person who said it spoke in a different tone. Some sounded angry, some annoyed, some surprised. Point is, we speak Jesus, we smile Jesus, or we wave the flag of Jesus but what is our motive and what do people see?
I come back to Romans 8:1 continually. Condemnation is not Jesus. God never condemns. When I was down on my face wondering what had happened to me, Jesus lifted me up and said not one word about how I’d acted, what got me into that position, or what I should have done instead. He simply loved me. He healed me on repeat, physical things and mental ones. He, in His great mercy, did what love would do, and I still marvel at it because so much of it I never even thought to ask for. But what stood out to me was His kindness. Was how gentle the Holy Spirit is, and how willing to go to the nth degree to rescue someone like me.
God’s salvation has many blessings. He wants us happy, healthy, and wise. Prosperous, successful, and full of His abundance, but not so we can bury someone else with it. And even if people get in our face and deride us for it, what should be our response? I have said this for many years. If you can’t say the God-thing, then say no-thing. Smile and walk away. Anger and any emotion resembling it has no place in our reactions. Nor bravado. People like to use Jesus casting out the moneychangers as a reason to act up. But the temple is you now, so anything in your heart that’s buying and selling the world’s goods has got to go.
Titles, education, know-how is no excuse to act ugly, as my mother used to say. Say that thing you just said, which made people mad, while looking in the mirror. Better yet, video it and play it on repeat. Now change it, alter your expression, and ask yourself what you could say instead, and how it would change things. It’s easy to react and stronger to respond. Jesus spoke only what His Father gave Him to speak. He didn’t sin in word or thought or action. So the one throwing the thieves out of the temple was the Father who owned it. And why? Because it was a house of prayer for all people. The ones Jesus died for, no more and no less.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
We are told to stand firm for what we believe and to push back against evil. But only when we have first submitted to God, can we resist the devil. We can’t submit to the devil in the name of God and call it Jesus. The Word of God says, and Jesus is the Word, to not let the sun go down on our wrath. It says to “love one another.” It says to “Go ye into all the world and make disciples.” It says to “care for widows and orphans,” and to “protect the innocent.” We are God’s conduits, the arms and feet that do His work. He is the one who guides us into what that work is, but all of it is supported by His love, all of it distributes His love.
We take on what is not our responsibility and shirk what is. The Sower sows the Word, the life in the Seed causes it to grow. God sends the rains that water it. Our part is to keep our soil soft so what He plants can bear fruit. It is God’s power that causes us to grow, His goodness that forms the fruit and the seeds within it. But it’s the beauty of the garden we exhibit which draws the attention of those passing by to enter and see what makes it so beautiful in the first place. Unless there are flowers there will be no fruit, and the flowers come through faith and patience and joy and humility and self-control.
When we walk in the Spirit, we do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, whether that is a fit we pitch in line at the grocery store because it isn’t moving fast enough, or that thing we shouted at the driver who just cut us off, or if we clothe ourselves in Scriptures and blast it from the pulpit on Sunday. Wherever God has placed us, and to whomever is in the crowd, we must look like Jesus. Yes, He called the religious leaders out for their behavior, but then He died for them. The priest, Nicodemus, who came to inquire about salvation in John 3, wrapped Jesus’ body in spices for burial in John 19. Love made the difference.
“Nicodemus—he who had come to Jesus before, being himself one of them—said to them, Is a man judged by our law before it has given him a hearing and has knowledge of what he has done? This was their answer: And do you come from Galilee? Make search and you will see that no prophet comes out of Galilee.” (John 7:50-52 BBE)
Love changed Nicodemus. Love changes those we meet. Love changes us so that we have no desire to give into our emotions and say things which cause people to turn away. The light in us is meant to draw all men unto Him. The devil through us sends them running. Be the light. Be His love. And give no place to the devil to preach the gospel.
“Stop taking revenge on one another, beloved … Do the opposite. If your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink, for if you act in this way, you will heap burning coals upon his head! Stop being conquered by evil, but keep on conquering evil with good.” (Romans 12:19-21 Williams)
Photo by Larisa Birta on Unsplash
Suzanne D. Williams, Author