Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

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the punching bag — March 15, 2023

the punching bag

Some people enjoy working out with a punching bag.  I don’t – because sometimes I am that punching bag – emotionally speaking that is.

The punching bag at the gym is filled with grain, sand, or maybe a collection of old unmatched socks.  It is durable, able to take repeated and constant use without breaking.   The best ones are covered with a thick leather skin. It also brings enormous health benefits to the user.

But most importantly it does not punch back.

So how does this translate to life? 

There was a friend whose expectations for me were greater than what I could deliver.  It frustrated her and she let me know.  Ouch I just got hit with an emotional uppercut.

She was a friend that I loved –someone that I just could not walk away from. So, I tried to take responsibility for any failure on my part.  But the discussion itself generated more offense.  Whoa!  I did not see that hook coming. 

From then on, she would leverage a jab of criticism whenever she could.  She wanted a punching bag more than a relationship.

I found great support in 1 Peter where he described how Jesus responded to such people. “He committed no sin nor was deceit found in his mouth. When he was maligned, he did not answer back; when he suffered, he threatened no retaliation.”  (2:22-23a)

Jesus unjustly suffered at the hands of many.  He did not cry out in protest.  He quietly took whatever they dished out with a leather like skin and a commitment to not strike back. 

So, what was He thinking that enabled Him to endure such injustice?  Peter said, “but (He) committed himself to God who judges justly.”  (2:23b)

He knew that God, the righteous judge, would one day mete out justice.  He would address every undeserved hurt delivered by His foes.  Jesus believed that truth and therefore placed Himself in the hands of the Father.  (Luke 23:46)

Ironically, much like the bag at the gym, Jesus brought benefit to those who abused Him.  Peter went on to say, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we may cease from sinning and live for righteousness. By his wounds you were healed.”    (2:24)

His abusers eventually came to see that Jesus suffered by them, but also for them. He faced their wrath so that they would not have to face God’s. Their anger at Him was dissipated by His willingness to suffer for them. They came to Jesus and by His wounds they were healed.

Jesus endured what His erring ones inflicted to win their hearts.   He calls us to do the same.   

Peter prefaced his teaching by saying, “For to this you were called, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving an example for you to follow in his steps.”  (2:21)

Paul put it another way, “Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse.” – Romans 12:14

Both apostles echoed the words of Jesus who said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”  Luke 6:27-28

BUT “wait” you say! “My spouse literally punches me!”   Well, there were times when Jesus was physically threatened, and He did what was appropriate to protect Himself. (John 10:39) until the day He faced the cross.

So, if you are in physical danger, the Lord would encourage you to seek out the help and advice of your pastor or a counselor. 

As for me, I plan to enjoy the many wonderful relationships I have in my life, but for those that are not so wonderful, I will hang tough until my steadfast love and God’s grace melts their hearts.

A PRAYER: Lord, if I must, help me endure the worst to be able to see the best in others.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Scripture references are from the NET Bible ®

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