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Philippians 2:5-11 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

Do you need an attitude adjustment? Before you answer that question, read Philippians 2:5-11. It is a rare person indeed whose attitude could pass this test.

Does that give us permission to sluff off this verse and excuse yourself because you aren’t as bad as ___________ (fill in the blank)? I doubt that Jesus looks at it this way. These verses are in the Bible to guide our Christian walk and we need to use them, not public opinion, as our guide.

So, how do we get from here (the place where my present attitude is sitting) to there (the place where it needs to be)? I don’t know any quick, simple fix. It needs to be a life goal that we must cultivate in our hearts. We must start by agreeing with God that we need to make the adjustment. We must write these verses on our hearts so that we will be mindful of them as we proceed through life on a day to day basis.

Jesus was humble to the point of death on a cross. He did not try to lord his divineness over people and boss them around. He let them know where they stood without taking their free will from them, and he let them decide for themselves how they would respond. He accepted their insults and even death on a cross for a cause that was higher than his earthly body. His cause was the salvation of those who were insulting him and taking his life, for you and for me.

Did Jesus ever stick up for anything? Of course he did. If he hadn’t, no one would have been upset enough to crucify him in the first place. He challenged those things that insulted God. He challenged everything that was satanic.

But he didn’t retaliate to defend himself. That was the dividing line, and we can use it as our dividing line as well. We don’t have to be doormats to anything and everything that comes along in the name of humility. It is reasonable to stand up against evils that hurt people around us. The problems come when we are quick to attack those who offend us personally. Whose honor are you ready to fight for? Is the offence based on the big “I” or is it based on an offense against God? If it is based on the big “I” then we need to be looking for the soft answer. If it is an offense against God, then we need to find Biblical guidelines for dealing with the problem.

Lord, help us to see our own attitudes through your eyes. Show us where we need to make changes so that our lives may reflect your light and your love to the world.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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1 In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
2 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
3 Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
4 Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.
   Psalms 31:1-5 (NIV)

     Have you ever been wrongfully accused or treated unfairly?  David experienced this over and over in his life beginning with the persecution from King Saul and later by his own son Absalom.  Yet David continually put his trust in the Lord and found him to be his strong fortress and salvation. 

     Notice in verse 3 how David boldly prayed that God would lead and guide him for the sake of God’s name.   If we dare to live faithfully for Christ, we too can pray with this boldness for the sake of His name. 

     This is a great scripture to use as a prayer when you are feeling oppressed or persecuted by others, and know that if God was there to see David through, he will be there for you as well. 

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  

Luke 6:29-30 (NIV)

This is a tall order, but Jesus doesn’t ask us to do something he didn’t model for us.  He was willing to take the abuse, even upon a cross, in order to show the full extent of his love.  That still doesn’t make it easy for us to do.  We are so into getting our “rights,” anything good that we feel we are due; and we think nothing should ever stand in our way to get them.   

Mahatma Gandhi gives us examples of how he led the people of India in their struggle for freedom from British rule. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used Gandhi’s example to help the black American citizens gain the privileges that should have been theirs in the first place—to ride anywhere on a bus, to get a good education, to eat in any public restaurant, and more.   

Today it is difficult to even think of willingly taking abuse from another.  People are so quick to take anyone to court that crosses us.  I get upset about people taking my pens—my desk at work is close to the telephone and my room (school library) is where we have staff meetings, so I get cleaned out quite frequently by people who forget to bring a pen with them, yet they forget that the pen was borrowed when they leave.  I would probably do myself more harm than good if I made a big scene about this, and pens are relatively cheap.  But this is such a tame example of turning the other cheek. 

What about deliberate abuse that is vicious?  Verse 29 is referring to a form of physical assault.  That is really hard.  In the example given in the verse, I visualize the person receiving the assault as standing up—using his own strength and free will he stood there and offered the other cheek.  This is not a life threatening form of abuse.  I don’t feel that Jesus expects us to take life-threatening abuse and volunteer to come back for more unless there is some very high and worthy cause at stake that you are willing to die for, as in the case of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King.   

In the situation of an abused spouse, a choice must be made.  Will accepting the suffering bring the couple closer together, or will it bring the abuser closer to Christ?  I should think this situation should be bathed in much prayer.  The abused person needs to surround him/herself with prayer warriors.  And the abused person must be so filled with the joy of the Lord that, in spite of the abuse, he/she can still hold his/her head up with a sense of victory to effectively speak without words to his/her abusive spouse.  This is no small task. These two verses may ask at lot of us.  Are you ready to give Christ your all?

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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