Applying this scripture to our lives seems easy enough; doesn't it? Sometimes we believe that it is super easy, that is, until we are challenged in our attitudes and thoughts. Our mind or "attitude" can affect whether or not we deem a situation to be positive or negative. It can also determine how we respond to offenses. Sometimes we respond well to them. At other times, we miss the mark. However, God will show us the error in our ways of thinking and our attitudes if we allow Him to do so.
Several months ago, I was faced with a situation that caused me to want to verbally (and physically) defend myself. In that moment, I felt as though I was Peter when he lashed out to defend Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. I wanted to take a "Don't mess with me!" stance. Was it an offense where the other person was blatantly wrong? Yes, it was. At the time, I didn't care what the person who had offended me thought. Nor did I care about the thoughts of anyone else. My flesh just wanted to lash out. Fortunately, I did not react based on my initial feelings. Instead, with eyes watering, face flushed, lip quivering, and teeth clenched I walked away. Unfortunately, I struggled with what that event for quite a few days afterwards. It was as if it was on auto-repeat in my mind.
One day, during my time with God, I decided that I would vent about my frustration. In the midst of my venting session He lovingly reminded me that Jesus did not go all out to defend Himself. He remained true to God's Word and the work He came to complete during His time here on the earth. He never tried to prove His innocence or went out of His way to prove that He is the Messiah. He didn't try to prove it when the enemy tempted Him in the wilderness. Even on the cross, unto death...He remained humble, without retaliation. Above all, He loved and forgave...and He still does. I was reminded that I needed to have the same attitude that Christ has.
This particular event also refreshed my memory of some very essential points:
1.) We do not wrestle against flesh and blood. (Ephesians 6:12)
2.) We may be the only representation of Jesus that someone sees or experiences. What kind of experience will we give them? What will be their testimony regarding us?
3.) In those moments of intensity, His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9). (I believe to be especially true when we make a conscious decision not to respond.)
Because I did not react, yielded myself, and allowed God to deal with me, I was able to discuss the situation with the other person. We were able to peacefully and respectfully have a much-needed dialogue. I made the decision to forgive rather than walking around in offense. The decision to talk about the issue and to forgive actually helped to strengthen our relationship. I cannot imagine the damage I could have potentially caused if I had reacted hastily based on my emotions.
I would encourage you to mend any bridges that offense has broken. Make the decision to talk things out with the other person(s). If you are at fault, you will need to apologize. If the other party is at fault, do not assume that he or she will apologize. I challenge you to just simply do your part. It is imperative that we have the mind of Christ and not allow offenses to dictate our responses and attitudes and ultimately cause us to sin.
Prayer: Lord God, we thank you that we have the attitude and humble mind of Christ. We ask that You help us to keep the Word, not just in our minds, but etched on our hearts. We are grateful for Your Word that comes to lovingly correct us when we need adjustments in our attitudes and ways of thinking. Thank you for sending Jesus as the perfect example for us to ceaselessly attempt to emulate. We believe that Your grace abounds and has the ability to help us in times of need. We are open to receive any information You desire to give to us about having the mind of Christ. We love you but are so very appreciative of the fact that You first loved us. All of this we pray in Jesus’s name, Amen.