Saturday, March 9, 2013

Offense of Defense?

              Being the youngest in my family was difficult. My sister, who is four years older than me, always seemed to escape punishment, even when it was her fault. There are too many times that I was blamed for something she had done, and received the repercussions of the deeds. I would fight back against my parents as hard as I could, but to no avail, she always seemed to get out of it and I always seemed to get the blunt end of my parent’s discipline. This would incite in me a desire to fight back against my sister. I would do everything I could to make her life miserable and unfortunately, I succeeded. As I grew up and began working, the same thing would happen, I would be blamed and punished for something I did not do, and would get on the defensive immediately, trying to make my boss understand that it was not me who committed the act, but someone else. Each time I would get on the defensive, someone got hurt, and sometimes that person was me.
                As Christians, our liberties, our beliefs, our actions, our words, and every other aspect of our lives is going to be called into question. There are going to be times in your walk that you will feel like you are under a microscope and that everything you say and do is going to be called into question. But instead of getting on the defense, the Lord calls us to humbly submit and allow these things to happen to us. Even though you know that you are not in the wrong, even though every fiber in your being wants to fight back, even though we want to get on the defense and defend ourselves, the Lord shows us a much better way. Defense gets others hurt and can do more damage than we realize, the Lord is your defender, let Him do what He desires. Peter tells us how He wants to defend us in the midst of wrongful suffering.  
                “For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth’. Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;” 1 Peter 2:19-23
                The Word of God tells us that we are going to suffer, we are going to have things spoken about us that are untrue, we are going to be persecuted and condemned by others, and there is no getting away from that. Peter tells us that it is “commendable” (thankworthy in the NKJV) to suffer wrongfully. The word “commendable” means “to be committed and commended to the protecting and helping favor of God” (Thayer’s Lexicon). When we are buffeted for our beliefs, actions, words, our walks with the Lord, we are not to fight back, we are not to get defensive and try to defend ourselves. Instead we are to patiently endure the sufferings that are before us and submit to the authority of God.
                Peter goes on to tell us that we have the example before us of what we are to do when we are being treated unfairly, when we have been judged wrongly, or when we are buffeted by others. We have the example of Christ. Christ’s example is a proof that patient endurance of undeserved suffering is acceptable to God. Instead of pleading your case before your accusers, instead of defending your actions, instead of fighting back against what is happening, we are to be Christ-like and patiently take all that is coming against us. This is much easier said than done. The first thing we want to do is fight back; we know that we are not at fault, so it is our human nature to fight against it. But God sees our struggles and says, “Patience, child, I got this.”
                “The example of Christ’s subjection and patience is explained and amplified: Christ suffered, 1) wrongfully and without cause; for He did no sin, He had done no violence, no injustice, no wrong to anyone-He wrought no iniquity of any sort whatever.” (Matthew Henry Commentary) Even though Christ was brought before a council and false witnesses were brought in to testify of His wrongs, He said nothing. He did not open His mouth in His defense. And if anyone had a right to defend themselves, it was Jesus. He was God in the flesh, standing before the accusations of the very people He came to save. Not only did He not open His mouth, but his actions were sincere, just and right. He never fought back.
                Secondly, He endured patiently the suffering that was put upon Him by others. He did not revile when He was reviled, He did not threaten, even though He was threatened. He did nothing to anyone who was hurting Him. “He committed both Himself and His cause to God that judges righteously, who would in time clear His innocence and avenge Him of His enemies.” (Matthew Henry Commentary)
                We are going to be persecuted, we are going to suffer wrongs that are not ours, but instead of fighting against them, we are to patiently endure all that the Lord God is working out on our behalf. We do not know what tomorrow will bring. We may be suffering today for a wrong done to us, but instead of fighting back, submit your case before the Lord God, the True Judge. Just as we would go to court and plead our case before an earthly judge, we are to bring the wrongs we are suffering to Him, the Final Judge and let Him determine our cause. “The judgment of God will determine justly upon every man and every cause; and we ought, with patience and resignation to refer ourselves.” (Matthew Henry)
                Instead of fighting against the work of the Lord in the situation, commit it to Him, who judges righteously. You may never have the decision you desire, you may never have the resolve and the case may never be closed, but all that matters is that you have placed, in humble submission, your case before the Lord God, and He is the Final Judge, and in Him you can place your trust. He will work it all out for His glory and for you good. (Romans 8:28) Jesus Christ had to suffer all that He suffered to be able to do what He did for us upon that cross. He had to take undeserved punishment for our sins so that we could be set free from the power of death. The sufferings you are facing are nothing compared to the suffering that Christ Jesus endured on your behalf. Submit your case before the Lord and let His Name and His glory be exalted, let Him determine your case, and He will bring your innocence to pass.
                To Him be the glory and the power, forever and ever. Amen.