Bearing your Cross: A Four-Part Pattern
The cross is ever before the believer, beckoning the us to share in the sufferings of Christ.
At times, life will feature unfairness, personality differences, differences of opinion and situational miscalculation. You, the believer, will be on the receiving end and wonder why you deserve such treatment.
In this moment, the cross of Christ is presented to you. Will you bear it?
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” The cost of following the pattern of Christ is before you in these times, and what a pattern He set for you.
When he was reviled (disrespected, belittled, insulted), he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly (I Peter 2:23). “When reviled, we bless” (1 Corinthians 4:12).
In these verses we encounter a four-part pattern to handling unfairness:
- don’t retaliate (don’t return evil for evil)
- don’t threaten (“If you do that again, I’ll…”)
- trust yourself to the ultimate Judge
- bless the other person
The first two are commands that restrict sin. The third points us to our eschatological reality and induces prayer. The fourth is completely counter-intuitive in this world: it forces us out of self focus and depression and puts us on a loving, Christ-like offensive as we are a blessing in our enemy’s life where they were a curse in ours.
Listen to the instruction and promise of Proverbs 25:21-22:
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
22 for you will heap burning coals on his head**,
and the Lord will reward you.
Μόνο ο Χριστός
I pray that you will bear your cross daily and follow Christ’s example. Take heart! He is the Righteous Judge. Go to Him, weak and heavy laden, and find rest for your soul.
**I see a pair of possibilities as to the meaning of “heap burning coals on his head”: 1) your enemy may realize how he or she injured you and feel shame and a need for repentance 2) your enemy may be the subject God’s judgment