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Wednesday: A Closed Mouth — 15 Comments

  1. Sydney is in chaos this morning. We are in the midst of a public transport strike action where the trains and buses are running at about 30% capacity and on top of that an overheight truck has become stuck in the tunnel that goes under the harbor. I imagine that a lot of folk are not going to work in Sydney today. The strike action has been going on for quite some time and most people are fed up with the consequence of being late to work and so on.

    In the face of such inconvenience, it is all too easy to point the finger of blame and to quote the words of Peter in our lesson scripture for the day. In the modern world, the workers are roughly equivalent to the slaves in Peter's time. Are we going to make the simplistic analysis and say that modern workers should:

    You who are slaves must submit to your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.

    For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:18-21 NLT

    Are there principles in this scripture that we can apply to living in our modern world?

    Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Mark 15:31

    Although these words were meant to be a taunt, they embodied the very principle that Jesus had been trying to teach during his ministry. It's not about me; it's about others!

    In the chaos of our modern secular world, is it possible for Christians to be more concerned about the injustices of others than for ourselves? We sometimes make a big noise when we see our own rights and privileges abused, yet we remain silent when we see other groups being restricted.

    The big picture question for us today is to determine when to keep silent and endure and when to speak out?

    • You are spot on Maurice with reference to the "big picture". While any injustice that I might suffer is significant, at the same time my injustices are but one piece in a much, much bigger picture. Keeping this in mind daily will help me (gradually) 'more naturally' see things from that bigger picture perspective. This is what Jesus had trained himself to do - endure the injustices of the path to the cross for the sake of the joy - the bigger picture - that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2).

      Jesus forewarned us that because of the existence and realities of the Cosmic Conflict, it is inevitable that in this world we will have trouble - including injustice. But He also invited us to keep in mind (via practice) that the bigger picture is that these troubles are unfortunately the stepping stones along the path to eventual victory (John 16:33).

      Not a pretty picture, but a necessary one that if kept in mind daily, can progressively strengthen our ability to keep our mouth closed when it is wise to do so (as per Matthew 7:6 principle).

    • It helps to remember that Peter wrote to the attitude slaves/workers should have - not what their owners should impose on them. The Bible covers a Christian's attitude towards slaves in Paul's letter to Philemon. See especially Philemon 1:15, 16.

  2. Could we understand Jesus’ words: “learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart”, to mean that He has freely given up His own willfulness and replaced it with the Will of the Father? Meek and lowly in heart, as I understand it, means to give up my right to do things ‘my way’ - seeking justice as I want to see it established, and yield to doing things God’s Way. Even though one might prefer to respond/do it differently, one yields to respond using God’s Way.
    Though my mind still prompts me to engage in making choices, my renewed mind and heart benefit now from the direct influence of the Holy Spirit which lets me know which is ‘my way’ versus ‘God’s Way’; I can then humble my heart and follow God’s Will instead of mine.

    Again, I see meekness and humbleness in a Christian’s life expressing itself to give preference to God’s Will instead of one’s own. There is something special about a humble spirit expressing itself in a setting where self-righteousness is expected to be a ‘normal’ response. It challenges the very roots of our being’s demand for justice and self-determination when we contemplate meekness and humbleness under these circumstances.
    Humbleness/meekness is expressed when one holds back the desire for a vengeful response in the hope that justice will prevail in God’s court eventually – Rom12:19. Also, there is the spiritual component when forgoing justice with humbleness/meekness which will be manifested in Heaven’s court records; and that is where it counts! 🙂

  3. Why did Jesus not speak? Why did he allow himself to be led like a lamb to the slaughter and yet spoke not a word? I believe it is because had he spoken, he would not have been crucified that day. Had he used the power of The Word that spoke worlds into being, who would have been able to nail him to a tree that he created? Just by writing in the dust, he had been able to scatter men who were baying for blood. Christ’s silence was his submission to the will of the Father. His silence and submission sealed the salvation for all of us.

    But Jesus was not always silent. He was not silent when he found money changers cheating people in the temple. He was not silent when the woman with the issue of blood received healing and tried to silently slip away without notice. Time and time again, Jesus is not silent when speaking breaks chains of emotional, spiritual, and physical bondage.

    What do I learn from Jesus' closed mouth? I learn that I must submit always to the will of the Father and not go my own way. I learn that all I do – whether it is to speak or to be silent- must be for others’ good and for the glory of God.

    The problem with us is that often we act out of selfishness; whether that acting is speaking or being silent, we do what is best for us and ours—our safety, our comfort, our promotion. The other problem is, that even when our intentions may be good, we act outside of God’s will. We are like Peter pulling out his sword in Jesus’ defence rather than following the will of the Father at that moment. Oh, that we may allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. Only God’s Spirit can enable us to have the meekness of Christ.

    • Spot-on Jocelyn. The Holy Spirit's empowering and collaborative re-training of us from impulsive (our human default-tendency) to self-controlled/meek is a core part of Christ-like character development - the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

      This re-training parallels the development of maturity from subconsciously-driven impulsiveness to conscious and intentional responding. As such it is a process of training to "bring every thought captive to the obedience of (ie, conformity with) Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). There is so much knowledge and practical wisdom within Scripture that is affirmed by true science - including neuroscience.

  4. 1 am so blessed and grateful for all the comments made this morning. Thanks so much to all and may God continue to bless the ministry of ssnet.org.

  5. I don’t think that Christ’s (sometimes) silence at His crucifixion was opposed to “putting people right”. When He was silent that is what He was doing. Note what EGW states in DA p. 730:

    “Christ might have spoken words to Herod that would have pierced the ears of the hardened king. He might have stricken him with fear and trembling by laying before him the full iniquity of his life, and the horror of his approaching doom. But Christ's silence was the severest rebuke that He could have given. Herod had rejected the truth spoken to him by the greatest of the prophets, and no other message was he to receive.
    On the other hand, Jesus did have a conversation with Pilate. So when there was hope, Jesus spoke. But it appears that Herod’s probations had closed, hence Jesus’ silence.

  6. As a high school teacher I learned to selectively ignore certain words and behaviors in my students - especially when directed at me in a negative way. My attitude was to consider that they really didn't know any better, and I chose not to hold it against them. (IOW, I didn't take it personally.) It spared both me and them a lot of stress.

    And then I learned to apply that principle to adult-to-adult interaction. Basically, I feel that if people are nasty or say untrue things about me, that's an indicator of their spiritual maturity. If I have more experience than they do, I need to consider that "they know not what they do," just as Jesus did. Of course, I also need to make sure I don't give reason for offense. And that means praying for wisdom which He is eager to provide.

    I believe that, by the grace of God, anyone reading this can learn that principle. Not taking insults and negative behavior personally really does make this life journey a lot easier and more peaceful.

    • The response of children is conditioned by their homelife experience, especially when they encounter situations that are stressful. In that sense, they often “know not what they are doing.” They are simply doing to others and reacting to what has been done to them by their parents, siblings or other close relations.

      God’s approach to reaching the hearts of emotionally damaged people was not to “pay them back” for what they were doing, which would just make their injury worse, but to act in love in accord with the realization of their reality. Properly understanding someone’s need and acting accordingly is key to reaching the heart of one who is acting out the damage that has been inflicted on them. The objective is to have them grow up into the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13.)

      The work of a teacher is a challenge and a special calling of God. It is a work that is often not appreciated as it should be.

      • Thanks, Richard. You wrote

        Properly understanding someone’s need and acting accordingly is key to reaching the heart of one who is acting out the damage that has been inflicted on them.

        I believe that is always key to applying the Golden Rule. It was natural to consider their background in dealing with students. With adults it seems sometimes more complicated. As I mentioned in my reply to Phil, I have been burned when I thought I was applying the Golden Rule but didn't understand the background and totally different value system of the other person. (They didn't like to be treated the way I would like to be treated! 😥 )

  7. Loved reading all the comments today. I found the following definitions of humbleness and humility very interesting...always thought it's the same thing.

    Humbleness and humility both refer to the quality of being modest. While humbleness can also mean the state of being or feeling low in rank, as in The humbleness of his upbringing accustomed him to living simply, humility only refers to having a modest opinion of oneself. We live and learn.


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