|“Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet; ‘They divided My garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.’” — Matthew 27:35 (NKJV)
No one likes to feel abused – especially not entrepreneurs and leaders. When we feel abused, we feel belittled, taken advantage of, and even disrespected. This feeling often propels us to take matters into our own hands to make sure the offense does not happen again. In fact, we can all relate to feeling a certain sense of justice in a story or movie when an offender or abuser gets ‘what he deserves’ and is aptly punished for his wrongdoing. Unfortunately, this type of scenario does not always reflect a biblical model. God’s aim is always to redeem the abuser. Punishment is the result of them rejecting His redemptive plan.
I was talking to a client who said, “I’m tired of everyone taking advantage of my kindness.” Another said, “Why should I allow people to walk all over me?” Many Christians go to the extreme to exhibit “toughness” just to prove that they are not weak. However, they do not realize that God is often most glorified in their moments of perceived weakness. Our model of leadership, our own Master Jesus Christ, was abused by the very people He came to save, yet He never took on their ways.
He was put on trial for a crime He did not commit, spat on, mocked, beaten, ridiculed, and then killed on a cross. Not once did He lift a hand to defend Himself nor did He call for help. Instead, He defended His accusers, prayed for His abusers, and died for His enemies.
“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.” – Matthew 27:27-31
Jesus modelled for us how to persevere through an abusive situation to ultimately bring glory to God.
Does this mean that we should never defend ourselves? Of course not. When Peter and John were abused by Jewish leaders, they sought the opportunity to defend their position. When God freed them from prison, they took full advantage of it to further promote the Gospel (Acts 4:1-31, Acts 5:17-32). When Paul was abused by Jewish leaders, he not only defended himself but took the case to Caesar when he realized he could not get a fair trial where he was. As a Roman citizen, he could exercise certain rights due to him and this served as an opportunity for him to take the Gospel to Rome (Acts 21-25).
When faced with an abusive situation, first make sure that it is not from your own wrongdoing. The Apostle Peter states this in 1 Peter 4:15: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.” Any abuse you endure, if God is to be glorified as He was in Jesus’ example, must be due to your righteousness.
“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.” – 1 Peter 4:16
When faced with abuse due to righteousness, we should consider the following:
Remember that in every situation of abuse, no matter how wrong it may feel, God is using it to shape you as a leader. Avoid the temptation of taking things into your own hands but rather allow God to fight your battles for you.
- Do not become like your abusers
- Overcome evil with good
- Pray for those who are abusing you
- Don’t assume that God is only glorified by your suffering
- God’s glory can also be manifested through your abuser being brought to justice
“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:17-21 (NKJV)
Many Christians ask me when it IS appropriate to NOT turn the other cheek, as Jesus instructed in Luke 6:29. My answer is simple: “Never.” Jesus’ instruction to “turn the other cheek” was NOT conditional but a PERMANENT response to abuse. “Turn the other cheek” means that you should never use force as an offensive tool but rather always as a defensive tool while bringing glory to God. Sometimes it will appear as though you are being “walked on” and sometimes it will look like God is fighting for you. In both cases, you are not fighting fire with fire but you are fighting fire with water. You are using good to overcome evil.
My prayer for you today is that God will give you the grace to persevere through abuse and give you the wisdom to respond in a way that brings Him the most glory.