“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:”I Peter 2:21-24
Our church attended an annual leadership conference in Santa Clara, California and we typically rented a van to get there. The conference started on a Monday night and continued through Thursday night. I loved the conference, but dreaded the long van ride to get there. We would leave on Sunday evening after church and a quick dinner, and we would drive straight through the night from Glendale, AZ all the way to Santa Clara.
We would take one or two 15-passenger vans depending on who was attending, and there would be around 12 people in each van. We would take turns driving and when not driving, we would try to catch some shut eye. The pastor’s son was much younger than I, and we hung out together on the van. We tried to get some sleep, but it seemed impossible as the driver seemed to hit every bump in the road. We started to joke around with each other and then turned our joking into pestering and teasing someone else on the van.
We chose a deacon in the church as our target, and things started off slow. We picked up our banter and made some comments that he even thought were funny. We made fun of him and had quite the laugh at his expense. Pretty soon, we went too far with our joking and comments and the pastor’s wife told her son to stop. I immediately knew to stop as well and then began to feel bad. What made it worse was that he did not defend himself, and he didn’t even get sore. He would periodically say, “Well, amen!”, but he did not get sideways and was not offended as I thought he should have been. I know I would have not tolerated it, and my response would have been a lot different than his.
I tried to apologize to him but he said there was no need. He simply smiled at me and then turned back around. I felt bad to my core and realized how immature and unspiritual I had acted. The deacon was an example to me, and I learned something during that long van ride.
I think of Christ who was the ultimate example as He walked this earth. He was ridiculed, challenged, spit upon, and even crucified. He could have fought back, but He uttered not a word. Isaiah 53:7 states, “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.” He was not worried about defending Himself, but His focus was on the Righteous Judge.
How do you act when you are criticized, insulted, or looked at in a rude way? Are you quick to defend yourself or is your focus on the One who is the Righteous Judge? When others ridicule, or you quick to explode or are you able to smile and turn the other cheek? May we follow the example Jesus Christ has set for us, and may we walk in His footsteps. The next time we are tempted to fight back, may we ask ourselves, “Who tore off your beard, and who spit in your face?” May God be honored in our response as He was honored with His Son.