As tears welled up in my eyes, I could feel the anger well up within my soul. I stood still, feeling powerless, defenseless, and defeated. It’s like watching a raging storm unfolding before you and there is nothing you can do to stop it. You only hope the damage is repairable and eventually, the sun’s rays will shine a favorable light into the devastating ruins, offering some form of clarity in the aftermath of dust and debris.
When your character becomes the spectacle for others to attack, our natural instinct is to rise up to defend our honor. When someone persecutes your beliefs, when your integrity is on trial, and when you are knocked down by malicious accusations, we are heavily tempted to strap on our fighting boots and go to battle in self-defense. And yet, Matthew 5:39 commands, “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”
Does this mean we are passively permitting our accusers to continue in their scoffing? We seek justice and we feel entitled to our vindication. Every fiber of my being was ready to pounce- to retaliate. I wanted to take control over the situation and prove to the doubters of who I truly am, and not what they say I am.
God met me where I was in that broken moment. And He led me back to the cross- where Jesus bore our sin and shame- where He was falsely accused and mocked. As I considered the upcoming celebration of Resurrection Sunday, He reminded me of not only the excruciating pain He endured on the cross, but the humiliation He received. The very personification of God was placed on display and publicly ridiculed, questioned and insulted. They didn’t believe Jesus to be who He really is- the Son of God- and instead, called Him a blasphemer. But Jesus never wavered. He never retaliated.
As Jesus willingly hung in atonement for our sins, the soldiers jeered, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:40). Even though Jesus was the way, the truth and the life, who had all the power and authority in heaven and earth, He did not retaliate. He did not save himself. The words of the mockers could not alter the unchanging character of the One true God.
But He did respond, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23: 34). When our redeeming Christ was slain on the cross, the enemy thought he had won! He pulled out all the punches, every low jab. While His body was broken, while He was made a spectacle, He chose forgiveness. And in three days, the Truth was brought to the light.
“Those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned” (John 5:29).
The grave could not hold Him. The father of lies was defeated. The false accusers were put to shame when He conquered death and He rose. Jesus’ character on the cross is the perfect demonstration of our attitude when we are wrongfully accused and attacked. We are not commanded to retaliate, but to respond. And our response is to be like Christ– we turn the other cheek, we forgive, and we trust in the Righteous Judge- the One who justifies us.
The Lord has already told us, “For we do not fight with flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). We will face many battles in this world, but I praise God that He has overcome the world! And while we must remain constantly on-guard and steadfast, we do not need to be defensive. We can stand back, without standing down. For in time, the truth always finds its way to the light. Because no matter what anyone can conjure up about me, it doesn’t alter the truth.
I am a child of God. He has called me by name, to work according to His purposes-to be His instrument. He has vindicated me. He searches and knows my heart. From the ashes, I will rise- I will rise above with the divine strength the Lord gives me. Because He won, I am heir of His victories. And even when slanderous words try to knock me down, because of who I serve and who am in Christ- praise His name- for I have been called blessed.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely” (Matthew 5:11).
The Humble Homemaker