Because the goal of God is to transform me into the image of His Son, I’ve been comparing some of my habits to what I know about Jesus Christ. For instance, I cannot imagine Jesus having a craving for potato chips and eating too many, or Jesus procrastinating because the task at hand seemed difficult, or Jesus being flabby because He didn’t like exercise.
Jesus set an example for us, one that goes farther than the daily stuff that I deal with. This passage offers a hint of far more significant struggles than mine:
“For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 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 2:19–23)
- He endured while suffering unjustly.
- He suffered for others without complaint.
- He was sinless, and never deceptive.
- He did not retaliate or even make threats, but trusted His Father to make just judgments.
Most of my suffering comes from my poor decisions. A universal law says that I will reap what I sow, which means that any pain from stupidity is not unjust; I’m getting what I should have expected. Grace regarding eternal life becomes more meaningful when I realize the greater cause/effect issue that God has overturned. The soul that sins should die, but God gave me eternal life! Learning to endure whatever pain that I think I don’t deserve sharpens my appreciation for the God who loves me and gave me the gift I didn’t deserve either.
Can I take on pain so that those who should be experiencing it are comforted and helped like Jesus did? I cannot think of any examples — that tells me that I’ve never done it.
As for being sinless, that almost seems like a joke. Yet this is the goal of God for me! How zealous am I to be like Jesus when it comes to this? In his book “Respectable Sins” Jerry Bridges points to a host of things that Jesus exemplified and most Christians do not take seriously. Judging others and being unthankful pop to mind. These behaviors in me are not like Jesus.
Jesus was also not deceptive or crafty. He didn’t use His wisdom and power to manipulate people or hide things from them. His example puts many Christians to shame. How often have I tried to hide my fleshy, sinful side and refused to admit my struggles and weaknesses? While Jesus did not have those sinful issues, His example still rebukes my pride when I want to ‘look good’ instead of being real.
Jesus did not retaliate either. Getting even can be overt, or what psychologists call passive-aggressive. It can be throwing things, or silently withholding things. Either way, Jesus didn’t do it and sets a strong example for me.
The positive side of refusing to retaliate is trusting God to take care of those who harm me. This I’ve learned, and it is a relief to end this post on a more positive note. I’ve learned that if I go into a ‘get even’ mode, God will work on me, but if I trust Him, He will work on those who have hurt or attacked me. Far better to let God take care of them for when He does it, everybody wins. He knows the root of all our bad behavior, the sins that need to be exposed, confessed, and repented of. He knows how to bring peace to the situation, not escalate the rift as retaliation often does. Also, His ways are higher than mine. He produces solutions that I would never imagine, and His solutions are amazing.
Jesus, You are the ultimate solution. No matter the problem or situation, I can look to You and expect from You the best answer or the most gracious response. Following Your example is not always easy, but it is the right way to live. Thank You for reminding me again to keep my eyes on You and my footsteps following Yours.