“O God, insolent men have risen up against me; a band of ruthless men seeks my life, and they do not set you before them…Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.” -Psalm 86:14,17
King David faced fierce and insolent enemies in his day. “Insolent” means showing a rude, arrogant, and contemptuous lack of respect for those with whom they disagree. The Judge Kavanaugh hearings have reminded many of the nature of our fallen world. The US Senate hearings for Kavanaugh in being confirmed as a Justice of the Supreme Court became filled with what could easily be called “insolent behavior” in the eleventh hour. The hearings were magnified by clamorous protesting requiring numerous arrests to maintain order.
Some say America’s divided populace is more contentious today than it ever has been. They would be wrong, of course. The Civil War resulted in a minimum of 1.5 million actual casualties of Americans in lethal combat with other Americans – citizens slaughtering citizens. The effects of this vast societal disruption still impact the culture 150 years after.
This last month has been filled with incivility in a nation seemingly torn asunder. Insolent behavior has been prominently displayed in the media. So, what does the Christian committed to following Jesus Christ do in the midst of such a world?
The Scripture says we ought to imitate Jesus as we live and interact in this world. He says, “Be holy, for I am holy” and “Have this same mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself…Do nothing from selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility count others as more significant than yourselves.”
How then does the true follower of Jesus behave in such clamor as this? Is this really a “turn the other cheek” type of situation? Or should the Christian take a position? Should he be silent? Should he speak out?
“Turn the other cheek” is Jesus’ instruction intended for personal behavior toward another individual who offends you in a personal situation. However, many situations call for the obedience of this biblical command: “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace.” Such are characterized by a clear and willing obedience to the truth of the Gospel.
When they speak, Christians are to speak “the truth in love,” but, nevertheless, speak and not always remain silent. Turning the other cheek does not always mean being silent. You are to be God’s voice of the Gospel in a dark world, both by righteous example and by verbal testimony. The truth will always stir up opposition no matter how much it is accompanied by love.
Opposition to the truth is constantly raised up by the “prince of the power of the air,” otherwise known as Satan, and all those who are led by him. Until Jesus returns and stops the mouth of all who deny Him, this opposition will continue unabated and the fight against you will be an insolent one!
Such opposition should not be allowed to discourage you into passivity or silence. This is not what “turning the other cheek” means. You have missed its meaning if you think this calls you to “give in” to sinful and vile rejections and just turn away completely mute.
There are times when our Savior remained silent and other times when He both spoke out and acted in opposition to sin and lies. His speaking the truth brought irascible and angry opposition. His enemies at times sought to stone Him immediately. They were driven in irrational and vehement anger to plan His death in the most torturous way imaginable, all on fraudulent charges. Talk about insolence!
Jesus even spoke of His enemies in clear and forthright terms, calling them “white washed sepulchers” among other truthfully descriptive and what might be considered harsh epithets. Was Jesus speaking the truth in love?
Righteous men in history have used some harsh but accurate words to describe those who insolently opposed them. Jesus even spoke to Peter’s face, “Get behind me, Satan!” So, yes, defending the truth of the Gospel requires standing firm at times, but such a stand must be bathed in prayer for transformative salvation in the attacking enemy, even as you seek to correct the lies being espoused.
The Holy Spirit will guide you as you seek to live righteously in an insolent world. Your motives must be pure! Do not speak out of revenge or in bitter anger. Pray for humility as you pray for boldness. Silence is not always the path the genuine Christian must take. The outcome may even be martyrdom, but Jesus and His Word are always the victor, if not immediately, always in the end.
“Stand up, stand up for Jesus. Stand in His strength alone. The arm of flesh will fail you; you dare not trust your own. Put on the Gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer. Where duty calls, or danger, be never wanting there.”
(Third verse of George Duffield’s hymn, “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus,” 1858)
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