Don't cry for me, but I wouldn't mind a little sympathy -- I had it terribly hard growing up because I always had to walk to school. From elementary school to high school, I had to hoof it: in sleet, snow, wind, rain, and being from Cleveland I rarely walked in sunshine. Instead of walking, it sure would have been nice to have my very own vehicle to come tooling into the high school parking lot with. I also attended a very wealthy school which made it extra hard to walk. It seemed like every student but me was given their own car once they got their drivers license. I can vividly remember one student who got a "Suped-Up" Ford pick-up truck from his rich daddy... man was it nice. I remember it well because the first day he had the truck he came flying into the parking lot squealing the tires, revving his engine and blasting Metallica. I thought to myself, "Now whoever this is, he has to be one tough dude."
As the truck came to a halt, students gathered around, and to everyone's surprise, out jumped one of the skinniest and shortest kids in the school. You sure can't judge a book by its cover! Not only that, but this single experience became a watershed moment in my understanding of the world. I realized, "Just because a person could push their foot down hard on a gas petal and can turn on a radio loud doesn't make that person tough and gritty." I had that same kid in gym class and he would be the first one to whine & complain if we ever had to run, lift weights, or put on boxing gloves. That truck, the loud engine, was all show! I call this "Counterfeit Grit."
Over the years I have learned this principle also applies when it comes to determining someone's moral strength, courage and grit as well. I have found that those who are lacking in it often hide behind loud & harsh words, threats, snap judgments, and demands for serious punishment. The problem with the counterfeit, is that we believe it to be the "real thing." I have seen time and time again where the loudest mouths and harshest words get to make most of the decisions; and usually it ends up resulting in everyone's detriment. But as they say, the best way to recognize a counterfeit is to first learn what the "Genuine Article" looks like.
The "Genuine Article" of true strength & grit is of course, Jesus of Nazareth. And I believe the most profound example of his grit is found in 1 Peter 2:19-24 -- I THINK YOU WILL BE SURPRISED:
"For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not retaliate in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed."
I just want to point out two things, that's it:
(1) HE DID NOT RETALIATE: Stop and think about that for one second, this should blow your mind! First, take into account that Jesus made the world, he was perfect and yet the people he created, "Spit on him, punched him, mocked him, ignored him, laughed at him, and hung him on a cross." And he did not retaliate! Counterfeit's retaliate, usually loudly like a skinny guy stomping on a gas petal -- it takes nothing to do it. But to be patient under injustice and let God work, now that takes courageous faith! And tell me, you who live in America, do you really have it that bad? Seriously? Is your situation so tough that it seems God has treated you unfairly?
(2) HIS WOUNDS BROUGHT HEALING: His willingness to wait gave the world the opportunity to change and be healed. If Jesus got fed up, and vented his anger immediately, demanding punishment "Now!" you and I would be toast. Is it easy to wait for someone to change while you bear up under their faults and mistakes? No, it takes real strength, courage and grit to do that! Think about raising your kids: when they were babies they often kept you up a night crying and whining. Why didn't you retaliate by yelling at them and demanding them to change or you were going to put them up for adoption? Love, right!
Love sees future potential - not the present failure. Love hopes for God's Spirit to transform hearts. Love keeps no records of wrongs because it entrusts itself to "him who judges justly!" This is why James 2:13 says, "Mercy triumphs over Judgment." Showing people "Mercy" may cost you more, it will demand of you courage and grit, but when you let it accomplish its work there is the grand possibility for a transformed human being...a trophy of God's grace to be displayed!
All "judgement" can do is judge, that's easy and quick; but it shuts the door for hope and mercy to do its work! Like squealing your tires in a parking lot -- it's seems cool but it sure ruins your tread!