February 1, 2024

Beside Still Waters: Mistaking kindness for weakness

Therese Apel

The Dead Sea, Israel. Photo by Nicole Baster on Unsplash

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” – Matthew 21:12-13

I think this might be one of the most misused portions of the Bible. Christians today tend to use this scene in all kinds of contexts that I’m not sure really apply. There are memes on Facebook about it to the effect of, “Remember when you’re asking ‘What would Jesus do,’ that flipping tables wasn’t out of the question.”

Yes, in certain contexts, that’s absolutely true. Like when someone is defiling God’s temple. That’s the only physical violence we ever see out of Jesus. He snaps back a little at some of the Pharisees from time to time when He calls them fools or hypocrites, but Jesus never in any way espoused losing your temper for being disrespected or annoyed or because of a difference in opinion.

Look at the way you put yourself out there. Are you one of those people who posts things talking about how tough you really are and how much you’re about to snap on somebody? The first one that comes to mind is “Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness…” I don’t remember the rest of that one, but you get the gist. That whole idea of “I’m nice but if you hurt me I’ll hurt you back worse.”

Self-defense is for when your life is threatened. Yes, you can stand up for yourself, but showing your quills like a porcupine doesn’t just make you look like you’re insecure about something, it’s just not what Jesus did. When He was accused, He was quiet. When He was mocked, He was quiet. When people came at Him, He allowed God to handle it from there.

Your temper is not God’s will for your life. You accomplish a lot more by being kind and polite, blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation” (Philippians 2:15), and more importantly, your witness is that much more powerful.

You don’t need to be the toughest or the scariest. God is that. You just be kind. ❤️

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