Have you ever been given advice by someone (especially with less experience) in an area in which you considered yourself an expert? I don’t know how you do with that, but I hope you do better than I do. I hope your humility level is higher and your pride level is lower than mine are. When it happens to me, I’m immediately (not so) righteously offended. “Doesn’t this person realize that I know all about this subject?” I huffily think. “Does he think I know nothing?” My patient husband or mother will be sure to hear about it later.
If I get offended about harmless, helpful advice given with good intentions, I don’t like to think about how I would respond if I were wrongfully accused. I know that when my husband and I occasionally get in an argument, I spend a lot of time defending myself and my position. I wish I could say that I default to thinking about and trying to understand the other person’s point of view thoroughly before thinking of my response. I’m too busy trying to build an indestructible defense fortress. It’s only after the argument is over, and I’ve had time to cool down that I start thinking about the issue from the other person’s point of view. That’s when I almost always have to go back and apologize.
This is how I usually operate. Then I look at the account of Jesus when He was condemned to death and ultimately died on the cross. Read this:
“When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, [Jesus] gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, ‘Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?’ But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor” (Matt. 27:12-14). Later, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing'” (Lk. 23:34).
“When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly” (I Pet. 2:23).
This response is from the only One who has every right to defend Himself. He’s the only one with a truly impenetrable defense. He really is in the right in every way and absolutely does not deserve any punishment, much less death. And yet, He said nothing. They mocked Him; they yelled at Him; they beat Him; they crucified Him. He could have defended Himself and still gone through with the ultimate sacrifice to save us, but He did not.
What is this humility? The One who created humans, the King of all of us, allows His creation, His subjects, to treat Him this way without a word?
I don’t understand it, but I can tell you that His humility sure humbles me.
He tells us to “submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right” (I Pet. 2:13-14) even when the ones in authority are causing suffering, as they were during the time these words were written. He tells servants to submit to masters even when they are harsh (I Pet. 2:18). When I read these words, everything in my American “I have my rights” head rebels against it, but when I look at the reason–Jesus submitted, and we are to follow His example (I Pet. 2:21), I know I need to bow my head in submission.
Yes, I know there really ARE times to speak out like Jesus did with the Pharisees (Matt. 23, Jn. 2:14-17 for a couple of examples). However, there are times to stay silent. I don’t pretend to know the difference, but why did Jesus stay silent when He did? I Peter 2:23 says “He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” When it is our time to let down our defenses, that is exactly what we can do. We can trust God to judge our hearts rightly even if someone here doesn’t. We can trust God for His will to be done with us. For “the name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe” (Prov. 18:10). HE is our defense.