Thursday, March 7, 2013

Responding to Insult

Have you ever been insulted?  I would guess that you have.  You might have been insulted because of your physical appearance, your gender, your age, your intelligence, your political leanings, your religious beliefs, or any number of other things that make people different.  Insults seem to be a way to allow the insulter to feel better about themselves, expressing superiority over the one being insulted.

How do you respond when insulted?  I must admit that my initial tendency is to respond with insult.  And in my life I have done that more than once or twice.  There are other times when the insults stung enough to make me feel bad about myself, which I guess is one of the desired outcomes from the perspective of the one offering the insult.  But how should I respond to insult; in particular when insulted because of my faith in God?
18 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

22 “He committed no sin,
    and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 2:18-25 NIV
Much of 1st Peter deals with suffering as believers.  This passage in particular deals with how believing slaves should respond to unjust treatment at the hands of their human masters, but it has much to say to the rest of us as well.  Do what is right.  Regardless your station in life.  And if you suffer as a consequence of doing what is right and good, trust that God will take notice and reward you.  There are probably very few folks who enjoy suffering.  But doing good is always to our advantage, even if we suffer for it in this life.

Christ also suffered, and in that left me an example: avoid sin; be honest; don't retaliate when insulted; entrust yourself to God.  What did Jesus do when insulted?  He did not return the insults.  Instead he chose to give it over to God and let him handle it.

When someone insults me, labeling me a fool because I choose to have faith in God, I have two choices.  I can strike back with insult, defend myself, or feel bad.  Or I can smile, thank them for their observation, and be positive.  Something in the first set of responses is what the person insulting me expects, and wants.  And when I give them that, they have demonstrated a certain amount of power or control over me, an ability to "pull my strings".  When I remain positive in the face of their insult, I gain victory over their attack.  And, even more importantly, I follow Christ's example and bring glory to God.

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