Flippant Response or “Count to Ten”

Flippant Response or “Count to Ten”

Have you ever been cornered by people and challenged to give a verbal defense of yourself? You may be tempted to defend your actions or a statement. Too often we try to shift the blame to someone else. We may even lie to give a reasonable defense. It has happened to each of us. It happens in the workplace when something goes terribly wrong, and we are called on the carpet to explain. It can happen in relationships when we are accused of misbehavior. It often happens in heightened discussions when the other person disagrees with our argument. They may challenge the information you used for your opinion. It is threatening and disquieting. Our blood pressure rises, our heart rate goes up, and adrenaline courses through our bodies.

Jesus also faced these challenges. Have you noticed, He does not always respond the way His detractors expect? They demand an explanation, and He asks a question. They demand He identify His authority and He cites His previous actions. Sometimes He needs a moment to consult His Father or to search His mental database of the scriptures.

In John 2.13-17 (MSG) we read; When the Passover Feast, celebrated each spring by the Jews, was about to take place, Jesus traveled up to Jerusalem. He found the Temple teeming with people selling cattle and sheep and doves. The loan sharks were also there in full strength.

Jesus put together a whip out of strips of leather and chased them out of the Temple, stampeding the sheep and cattle, upending the tables of the loan sharks, spilling coins left and right. He told the dove merchants, “Get your things out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a shopping mall!” That’s when his disciples remembered the Scripture, “Zeal for your house consumes me.”

This is an amazing scene. We are all surprised at His anger and actions. Why did He take time to braid a whip? Did He need it? Does He use it? The passage does not say. Could it be that by taking time to braid the whip He was consulting His Father? Was He scanning His mental database of appropriate scripture? Most likely no one really noticed Him until He cried out and went on His rampage. In the quiet of the moment while braiding the whip Jesus was doing something we have been advised to do, “count to ten.” In these few moments, He was clarifying His appropriate action. Only then did He act.

John 8.1-11 (MSG) we read; Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.

The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.

Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”

“No one, Master.”

“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”

Now Jesus was facing an impossible dilemma. He was vehemently challenged by the religious officials. They demanded an answer! If He said, “yes” the people would be upset at the injustice of the situation. If He answered “no,” the religious officials would claim He did not act according to the Law. Rather than quickly answering as they demanded, He bent down and began to write in the dust. What was He writing? For nearly 2000 years Bible scholars have debated the answer, “what was He writing.” It really does not matter to the incident or His answer. He again took time to consult with His Father and to search His mental library of the scriptures. “He counted to ten.”

His response shook them to the core. He was right on with the Law. He was also keeping His demonstration of God’s love front and center. He called them to righteous behavior. Act as God acts. How could they, deplorable sinners, execute the punishment of the Law without condemning themselves? We all expect God to forgive our serious and every sin. Can we do anything less?

Take a good lesson here. Take time in your responses to confrontations. Consult with the Father and search your mental database of scripture. Only after you are sure as to how God would have you respond should you respond. “Count to ten.”

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