Winning Without Firing a Shot

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Philippians 1:27

“Don’t sign in, you need to reschedule,” the receptionist said.

“I’m sorry, what?” I asked, thinking there had been some kind of emergency in the office.

“You’re late,” she stated.

“What time is it?” I asked, confused. Although I was a few minutes late, my cell phone told me her clock was fast.

Seeing an empty waiting room, I asked if there were any open slots that afternoon; “No.”

“How about tomorrow?”

“No. Monday.”

I was a little taken aback. No “I’m sorry this is our policy now.” No “I’m sorry you’re going to be in pain for another four days.” I apologized for being late; no response. Feeling not unlike an elementary school pupil sent to the principal’s office, I limped back to my car.

Is it just me, or is the prevailing mood these days rudeness, if not downright hostility? Stressed people everywhere feel free to express their irritation with no civility filtering their responses.

Social media can be a showcase for rudeness. While that particular morning the receptionist was right, I was late, being publicly reamed on social media doesn’t necessarily involve a person’s having done anything wrong. A difference of opinion will suffice. If you speak your mind, get ready to be insulted and alienated. And woe to those who make mistakes! Opponents pile on without mercy, never mind the benefit of the doubt.

I realize there are people who are 100% sure they are right, many of them professed Christians who believe that since they are quoting the Bible, God is on their side.

But does being right give us the right to be rude? Is this the way followers of Christ should conduct themselves? These internet warriors might want to take another look at their Bibles, especially the book of Acts, to see how the first Christians behaved when the Church was persecuted – and growing like wildfire. The early saints’ encounters with their opponents, both Jews and Gentiles, are profound lessons in how to conduct ourselves “in a manner worthy of Christ.” One striking example is Peter.

At Pentecost (Acts 2), the fisherman who had been intimidated into denying Jesus three times was now emboldened by the Holy Spirit. Peter stood fearlessly preaching the gospel to a great crowd of people, many of whom were the very ones that had called for Jesus’ crucifixion. Peter might have had reason to be hostile. But if you read Acts 2:17-36, you’ll see he did not berate or accuse. He did refer to “this Jesus, whom you crucified …” but he was merely stating facts. As a result, the crowd was “pierced to the heart” and wanted to know how to be saved. Peter gladly told them, and about three thousand were baptized that day!

After a miraculous healing in the Temple, Peter and John were dragged before the authorities and ordered not to preach Christ anymore. There is no record of an angry response on their part. They merely said, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19,20) Although this passage acknowledges that there are times when civil disobedience is warranted, even then the apostles did not resort to childish backtalk.

When Peter preached the Good News to a large gathering of people in the house of a Gentile named Cornelius, everyone there came to faith. (Acts 10). When confronted by the Jews about his “crime” of associating with Gentiles (Acts 11), Peter did not respond defensively, but as verse 4 says, he “began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened. The result?His former accusers had no further objections and praised God.” (vs. 18)

Peter could have reacted in anger. But I’m guessing the Good News was still so new to the apostle that his joy overwhelmed any defensiveness. Remembering his denial of Christ, he may also have been humbled by the fact that he was not only forgiven but even counted worthy to represent Him.

When you are falsely accused by others, do you respond with rage, or do you simply, calmly explain the truth to them, giving them a chance to change their minds?

A large chunk of Peter’s correspondence with the Church (I Peter 2:13- 3:17) is about humbly submitting to authorities when possible, and testifying “with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (3:16)

The best defense against an accusation is to show yourself undeserving of it.

Peter was eventually condemned to crucifixion, his martyrdom his final gift to the Savior he loved. There is no record of his being dragged off, cursing and screaming. On the contrary, tradition says Peter requested to be crucified upside down, believing himself unworthy to die in the same way his beloved Master had.

We may never be called to give up our lives for Christ the way Peter was – or maybe we will. But are we willing to give our lives to Him a moment at a time? Are we daily “dying to self” by maintaining a respectful attitude to everyone, even those we know are wrong, knowing that we’ve been wrong ourselves? If we’re accused of being despicable jerks, do our daily encounters say otherwise? Do we consistently stand out from the rude norm of society in our quiet confidence and peaceful attitudes?

(How easy would it be for those who know us to believe an evil report?)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You loved Your enemies, even praying for them as they were crucifying You. Forgive us for arguing, insulting, and mocking our “enemies” over disagreements, major and trivial. Help us to maintain Christlike attitudes in all of our dealings, so that we leave no confusion regarding our faith in You, in Your name. Amen

43 thoughts on “Winning Without Firing a Shot

    1. It IS a challenge, David, especially on social media (the reason I ‘m taking a break from it right now). In person I don’t like to confront, and I typically think of the perfect comeback about an hour AFTER the opportunity has come and gone. πŸ™„ So that’s a blessing, I guess.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. A gentle answer turns away wrath. And we are called to be images of Christ, not merely billboards and bumper stickers. But the main goal is to testify to our Lord and Savior; the enemy frequently tries to get us off-message, focused on other matters that matter less. J.

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  2. Well said, Annie. Today’s Biblegateway verse of the day is perfect for this post:

    Proverbs 15:1 (New American Standard Bible)
    A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

    What a wonderful world this would be, if every one of us gave only gentle answers.

    I’m sorry that you are hurting, and that you were treated so rudely. I’m praying for you right now, my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m so glad you’re better!! No, I haven’t tried your recipes yet. Yesterday I drove 218 miles, round trip, to see a cardiologist. I got there early but he was over an hour and a half late. Today I have been trying to recover from yesterday. The joys of getting older!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I had a certain doctor that ALWAYS kept me waiting for an hour or two. I prayed about whether to address it with him and felt led in the direction of humor. Instead of getting mad, I would just bring a book, a box of stationery, a sack lunch, etc. for the waiting room. I made myself at home. (Later I did my exercises while I was waiting in the examining room,) πŸ˜‰

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  3. Having a Christ like attitude is something we strive for. And it is quite challenging to live out when we feel angry or hurt. Only the Lord can provide us with what we need to respond like Him but to do that we have to very much be walking in the spirit to heed when the spirit leads and guides. I must say that I falter, I may not confront but I have either thought it in my head or I will be thinking of a suitable reply long after the whole episode is over.

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    1. As I said to David, I will think of the perfect comeback hours after I could have said it. I used to be frustrated about my inability to think of those things in the moment, but I believe that’s a gift from Him that has kept me out of a lot of trouble!

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  4. It would be hard to stay pleasant when told to leave for being only a few minutes late. I don’t suppose the doc ever kept YOU waiting! But you did well to stay calm. I remember once when I lost my temper with the receptionist at the doctor’s office. I had to go back in and apologize. It wasn’t easy, but I was convicted. It seems the same subject was on my mind when I wrote my post yesterday for today, “Love is Strong Spiritual Warfare”. Blessings, Annie!

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    1. Haha, I’ve been there, too, Cindy. Before I’ve walked half a block, the Lord tells me to go back and apologize. Although it’s not easy to let stuff go, it’s a lot easier than apologizing. πŸ˜’Later that day I thought, maybe this is a new policy, and by the time I arrived she had already explained it to a dozen people, and I was just one more slacker coming in late… Or maybe something else was going on with her. Since I don’t know, I won’t assume she’s always like that. (I don’t think I had met her before.) Anyway, as I’ve said in another post, there were times I’ve been the one acting like a jerk, and I would’ve appreciated the benefit of the doubt.

      That Passenger

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      1. That’s true. You never know what might be going on in a person’s life. Maybe she didn’t agree with the policy but was told to enforce it anyway. Blessings, Annie!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Disagreeing with respect seems so difficult, but if we remember the Golden Rule, maybe it’s not so hard after all. It also helps if we ask ourselves whether we would respond the same if we were face to face with the other person.

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    1. True, Keith. Disagreeing can be a real learning experience if we just express an interest in how the other person feels, asking questions such as, “How did you arrive at that conclusion?” Or after explaining your point of view, asking, “Am I missing something?” – Sometimes I am, and then I can learn something new and at the very least, have a better understanding of why people think differently. Of course, seeing both sides makes it harder to be opinionated. πŸ˜•πŸ˜

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  6. The only way I can be “Christlike ready” for experiencing others rudeness is to be in the Word and prayer that morning. It’s like a Hyde or Jekel thing for me on how I react to people. A good thing to bring out Annie

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  7. β€œwith gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (3:16)
    Annie,
    Such a beautiful, power packed message.
    β€œAre we daily dying to self?” That says it all.
    Moment by moment…
    (And, oh my gosh! I am loving your book! I’ll be so sad to finish.
    Thank you!
    Deb

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Most of the time, responding to abuse or rudeness or hatred with Christ-like love takes FAR more strength than “returning evil for evil.” As difficult and rare as it is, the example of choosing Christlike words and deeds is needed now more than ever.

    I so admire your restraint in the doctor’s office!

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  9. Thanks, Russ, but I’m not sure there’s anything to admire. I was taken aback and later, annoyed, and later still, glad I hadn’t said anything I would regret. My “delayed reaction” seems to be a strange gift that keeps me out of trouble.

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  10. Lots of food for thought. I was reflecting today about debates about scripture and I can conclude that I absolutely hate it. I used to be in the debating club in school and grew up enjoying a friendly debate. I have grown to hate debating with people about scriptures as it mostly turns into what Paul described as senseless babble. I try my best to write from revelation and if someone is blessed, praise God, if a person disagrees then that is ok. I just don’t have the time to go back and forth about it, especially if it’s based on my own conviction. I wonder about people whose main assignment is about calling out particular groups, denominations or movements. Preach the gospel and let God be God. Bless you. πŸ™πŸΎ

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    1. Amen, Anneta.
      In one of my books there is a controversy in a church about healing, for one beloved individual in particular. God does something that proves everyone was right, and everyone was wrong. From then on the motto of that church was “Let God be God “

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      1. Amen πŸ™πŸΎ. Not even sure why the issue of healing is even a controversy when it appears so many times in scripture. Tsk. God is indeed God and will forever be God. When our focus is on him and winning the list for God, then it becomes less about being right. πŸ™πŸΎ

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  11. Great post and insight Annie!!

    The other day, a cashier at the store I was at was having a seemingly bad attitude (probably busy and stressed) and I really wanted to take offense but instead I kept calm and kind. By the end of the transaction her attitude seemed to change a bit for the better. As my husband and I were walking to the vehicle I reminded myself β€œthat wasn’t about me.” Many people are just lost and stressed these days, which gives we as Christ-followers an opportunity to show His mercy and grace.

    Lord help us bring you glory in these encounters.πŸ™

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  12. You are certainly right that it was not about you. How many of us take offense at people’s attitudes, because we think everything is about us – which is really pretty silly, when you think about it. On the other hand, I’m guessing the change in her attitude WAS about you. Good job. πŸ˜‰

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