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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Too Rational

Last week I posted two things I had previously shared on Facebook - here's the first, and here's the second. This is a third discussion I posted a day or two later.

Still thinking a little bit about the discussion several days ago about Christians, our actions and our motives...

The other day I heard a friend say that the way she deals with someone treating her badly is to tell herself "Maybe he's just having a bad day." (This is not someone I know on Facebook, BTW, so don't think I'm talking about you!) Apparently that works for her, and I think that's a strategy employed by a lot of Christians. But I DON'T think that's God's best way.

Here's why. When you rationalize someone's behavior that way, you may defuse the anger inside of you, but you're doing it under your own power. You're "white knuckling it," as I think I said the other day, tricking yourself into acting the right way. You're not acting in the power of the Holy Spirit. And what if you then discover that the person who is wronging you is having a GREAT day, and they just hate your guts? What if they make it perfectly clear that they wronged you from pure malice? What if they honest to goodness just WANTED to be mean to you? What if you assume they are a nice person having a bad day, and you find out they are actually a mean person who is perfectly willing to hurt you again, on purpose? How do you rationalize that into "they're a nice person and I'll be nice back?" I've seen people try to do this... it just winds up making you look gullible and act like a doormat.

I know in some comments yesterday I also cast an unfavorable light on the whole "WWJD" thing*, but in this case, what DID Jesus do? When He was on the cross, put there by people who had planned literally for years to get him killed (and even tried it unsuccessfully several times), Jesus did not rationalize. Jesus did not assign a positive motive to them. "Father, forgive them, because they're probably just having a bad day." No - Jesus saw the situation for what it was. He looked into their hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit and saw the sinfulness there, but he also saw the ignorance. He didn't invent a motive for them; he saw the reality. And THEN He forgave them.

I think as Christians, our forgiveness should never be based on rationalizations. I don't think we should assume that someone is nicer than they seem, or they didn't really mean to hurt us, or whatever. Because maybe they AREN'T nicer than they seem, and maybe they really DID mean to hurt us. As the children of God, we can trust the Holy Spirit to show us the reality of every situation, and how to react accordingly. Then we can react in love AND appropriately. We can forgive with God's forgiveness, not by ignoring the problem and hoping it will evaporate. "Turning the other cheek" is not the same thing as "turning a blind eye". God does not want us to make ourselves ignorant. God wants us to have the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, see things for what they are, and react to them by His power, not under our own steam.

* Here's what I had said (in a comment) about WWJD:

The whole "WWJD" thing always made me feel a little uncomfortable, not because I disagree that we should act like Jesus, but for some other reason I couldn't define. But I've realized that the reason is that I don't think we should consciously be thinking about whether what we are doing is what Jesus would do. I think that we should allow Jesus to transform our lives until we *automatically* do what Jesus would have us do. It's not a matter of me acting like a good boy because it's what God wants; it's a matter of me *being* a good boy, because Jesus has made me one. The actions proceed from the sanctified person; the actions do not sanctify the person.

What do you think of "WWJD"? Ignoring people's actions and assuming there is a rational reason behind them? Turning the other cheek? Sound off by clicking the "Comments" link below this post!

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