Daily Devotionals

Less Defense and Shouting – More Love and Truth

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Scripture:  “As soon as it was morning, the chief priest held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council.  They bound Jesus, led Him away, and handed Him over to Pilate.  Pilate asked Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’  He answered them, ‘You say so.’  Then the chief priests accused Him of many things.  Pilate asked Him again, ‘Have You no answer? See how many charges they bring against You.’  But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.’” –  Mark 15: 1-5

What is your typical response when someone accuses you of something?  Most of us become defensive (especially if what is said isn’t true) and start talking immediately regardless of whether the words we say to defend ourselves or our actions are helpful or exculpatory.  We may even get angry and start attacking others since we all know that, if we want to come out on top, the best defense is a good offense.  

Sometimes the world feels like a cacophony of sound – people talking and yelling at one another – in person, on the radio and TV, not to mention social media – all of which tends to overwhelm my naturally introverted self.  Everyone seems to be yelling – “I am right – you need to listen to me!” or “They are definitely wrong – don’t listen to them!” — at the top of their lungs.  As we all have our eyes fixed on the news for updates on the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for accuracy and truth is more important than ever.  Does God really want his children to live in this stressful and anxious way?  I think most of us would resoundingly respond – NO!

But in the midst of the chaos of this world, how do we distinguish between information that is constantly being shouted at us and Godly truth?  Throughout the Bible, Jesus often responds to questions with an economy of words, and he even sometimes responds very cryptically making the path we should choose or the truth we should understand not as clearly laid out as I would like.  I often say, “Just give me a burning bush, God – please show me the direction I need to go or the truth I need to hear.”  Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), I haven’t gotten one of those yet.  What I have received are gentle nudges, ideas, and tugs at my heart, soul, and mind.  Key people have provided sage advice or a few words of encouragement that have made all the difference at the exact time I needed it.  I have found it is when I quit talking and recognize that I don’t have all the answers that God tends to speak to me, or, at least, that is when I hear him. 

When Jesus is brought before Pilate, he refuses to provide a defense of himself, his ministry or his claims of being the Messiah.  This amazes Pilate and infuriates the Jewish elders and scribes.  Jesus barely responds at all to the court, but not because he is guilty of the accusations against him.  It is because he is clear about what the truth really is and always will be, and in their hearts, Pilate, the elders, and the scribes all know it as well.  Jesus has always gotten his talking points from God and has already shown everyone what love and truth incarnate look like.  Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think this passage means that God doesn’t want us to defend ourselves in the face of injustice or wrong accusations.  I do think, however, that God wants us to respond with his talking points instead of ours.  That means more carefully chosen words that convey love to others as well as actions and deeds that are worth more than a thousand words to a watching and skeptical world.   

As God’s beloved people, let’s all try to turn down the defensive and loud volume at least a couple of notches in the next few weeks and months.  Try filling the ensuing silence with prayer, reading and studying the Bible, or helping out a neighbor for just one hour out of the 24 each day… and see if our hearing becomes more attuned to what God is saying.  I have a feeling that we will also hear more clearly what we should be saying to the hurting people and world around us.  God’s basic talking points go like this:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.  No defense. No offense.  No shouting.  Just love others in word and deed.  Respond to those gentle nudges from the Spirit.  The world around us needs it more than ever.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help us to still the cacophony of noise in our lives and to listen more carefully and intentionally for your voice.  Help us to not be defensive or angry with others, but instead, help us glorify you by using Your talking points of love and service.  you are the way, the truth and the light, Lord God.  Give us eyes to see and ears to hear.  Amen.

Submitted by Ginger Bates