A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
Someone unloads their anger on us. Our boss, our teen, a cashier, the guy who lays on his horn in the car behind us when the light turns green and we’re daydreaming and just sitting there.
We feel a sense of injustice when someone rails at us. We feel that our anger in response is righteous. We didn’t deserve this.
Our natural inclination is to fight fire with fire. Yell at me, I’m going to yell back at you. Accuse me, I’m gonna blast you. Spray me with pepper, I’ll melt you with a flamethrower.
Jesus was accused, mocked, spit on, slandered. Yet he never fought fire with fire. Never got his hackles up or mocked in return.
When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23
Jesus could have crushed his opponents with a syllable. “You want to revile? I’ll show you revile.” Not Jesus.
What was his secret? It was this – he “continued entrusting himself to him judges justly.” Jesus lifted his eyes above his enemies and focused on his Father, entrusting himself to him, knowing that he would judge justly.
If we entrust ourselves to the One who will bring about justice for us in the end instead of focusing on the injustice of someone’s anger toward us, it will go a long way to help us respond to them in a godly way.
When Jesus cried from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” he was extending mercy to those who tortured and crucified him unjustly.
We too should extend mercy to those who abuse us – we too should pray, Father forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t know my heart. They don’t know how hard I’ve tried to work for them. Don’t know how hurtful their words are. So Father have mercy on them.
Once I got a call from one of our leaders who was in charge of a free car wash our church held. He said some of the water had run onto the street in front of the church and a guy had driven his motorcycle through it. The guy was furious and yelled at them because now his motorcycle had a few flecks of dirty water on it. I got his number from the leader and gave the man a call. He lit into me, saying how irresponsible we were to let water from the car wash run into the street and how he’d just spent 2 hours cleaning his bike and now it had dirt splatters on it.
My initial thought was, “Man, you need to get a life.” But God gave me grace to be humble. I said, “I am so sorry that happened to you. We really should have been watching where the water went. I want to pay for you to get your bike completely cleaned, waxed, whatever you want so that it’s perfect.” He went on for another few minutes about how irresponsible we were and I said, “You’re right. I am so sorry. We were trying to have a free car wash to show the love of Jesus to people and this happens.”
“The car wash was free?” he said, subdued.
“Yeah. But that’s no excuse for what happened to you.”
“Well, don’t worry about it,” he said, “it’s not that big of a deal.”
I wish I could tell you that later he came to our church. He never did. But I was grateful God gave me the grace to diffuse his anger with gentleness. Who knows? Maybe someday he’ll go to a church, get saved, and become the leader of a motorcycle ministry.