Thursday, March 17, 2011

40 Days of Lint, Day Eight: Insults

I still remember the day my college roommate hurled her dresser drawers at me. I had returned to our dorm room moments earlier, happy and energized after a game of tennis. I don’t know what I said that ticked her off, but suddenly she started yelling how cocky I was about my “athletic ability.” She emptied the contents of her drawers at me - I dodged socks, underwear, and t-shirts. Once they were emptied, she flung the drawers themselves. Thankfully they bounced off the bed and walls instead of my face. I breathed a sigh of relief when, instead of finding more ammunition, she flounced from the room.

What in the world brought that on? I wondered. I looked around at the wreckage and tried to figure out why my normally sweet roommate had attacked me with such venom. Then I got it. Earlier in the school year she had been in an accident that shattered her ankle. She had spent months in pain, the winter in a walking cast, in and out of surgery and numerous doctor’s appointments. When I bounced into the room after running around the court in the sunshine, it was the final blow. She snapped.
Jealousy is often the reason people insult and attack others. That’s what caused so much friction between Jesus and the teachers of the Law. He was stealing their audience and they decided He must be dealt with. Knowing this attitude would continue after He returned to heaven, Jesus warned His disciples. Even on His way to the cross He said:

“‘For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?’ Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.’ The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’ There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ ” (Luke 23:31-39).

Are you in a dry season because of cruelty or insults? Have you suffered persecution for being a follower of Jesus Christ? If Satan wanted to kill Jesus and His message at the cross, think how much he hates those of us who repeat this message of hope and salvation? He is jealous of Jesus’ supremacy, the victory He had over death and sin, and His power at work in us.

Insults hurt, so does persecution in any form. Jesus wasn't surprised or bitter about it, instead He prayed for the ones who hurt Him. Even in the agony of rejection and crucifixion, Jesus demonstrated how we can lift our pain to the Father. He was able to forgive others because He knew He would soon be home. His assignment and ultimate desire was for all to come with Him to heaven, even those who mocked and killed Him.

One of the criminals realized, just in time, that Jesus was His Savior, and repented. Jesus promised they would be together in paradise (Luke 23:42-43). Our resurrection day is coming too, and the way we respond to our persecutors can either take us down, or bring others up with us. It’s not something we can do in our own strength. Only Jesus can give us both the desire and the ability to forgive those who treat us hatefully.

Soon after her outburst, my roommate requested to move. She disappeared from the campus at the end of the term. I don’t know if she ever dealt with the bitterness she had developed toward me, but God helped me to forgive her and gain understanding. He helped me see her through His eyes, as a person in pain, needing His love. I hope to be with her in heaven someday.

Lint Removed: Bitterness
Cleaning Process: Forgiveness

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