Previous articles in this series have been a contrast between General Benedict Arnold and Moses.
God is sensitizing us to one another; making us aware of others and their situations so we can put God’s character on display to them. We continue this series of articleswith an example of an airline executive sensitizing his employees to the customers.
Early one morning a major airlines official called for a meeting of his top leaders. “Everyone in the conference room at 10:00 A.M. sharp. I have a busy morning, but wait for me.” At 10:05, he had not shown up. By 10:15, the 15 people were stressed. By 10:25 they were ready to explode – they were being kept from their responsibilities and they knew that every minute an airplane is on the ground when it is supposed to be in the air, hundreds of dollars are lost every minute.
At 10:30 A.M. the airline executive strolled in. “Everything okay? Wondering why are we late getting started?” he asked. Then came the punchline: “That’s how our passengers feel when we are late. It’s our job to make sure our passengers don’t feel like you have been feeling the last 30 minutes.” This official was sensitizing his employees to their customers.
The most important thing to which we could be sensitized is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Sin hinders us, making us unaware of His most valuable sacrifice.
Protective Walls and the Meaning of Turn the Other Cheek When we feel unappreciated, we tend to put up walls to protect us from further erosion of our person or reputation. That’s what John did.
John lives in Boise, Idaho. Being a lawyer, he had valuable skills that are expensive to hire. When he was appealed to by a local pastor who wanted to start a Christian school, John helped him. Pro bono (free). In the following months, John invested hundreds of hours. Because many others joined John, the school quickly launched and did splendidly.
But intoxicated with success, a mere two years later the pastor stepped out on his wife, lived immorally and both the church and the school were closed. All John’s volunteer work evaporated.
Lawyer John thought, “He does not know what it cost me to help him. What a jerk! I am not going to do that again. Help others in the future? No way! I am putting up some walls. Protective walls. Never again!” When we get burned, we are tempted to join John behind protective walls.9
Protective walls have a connection with “turn the other cheek.” What is it?
What did our Lord mean when He said, “If someone smites you on one cheek turn the other cheek to him?” 10 When Jesus had an opportunity to do exactly that, He didn’t,11 suggesting that we should not understand “turn the other cheek” literally. Terry O’Brien says our Lord meant, “This means to continue to be vulnerable to people.”12 So “turn the other cheek” means “continue to serve people, even if you’ve been burned.”
Since a primary way to influence people — and influence people we must – is to love them, we can’t put up self-protective walls. Jesus Christ continued to be vulnerable. In spite of knowing a cross was coming, He continued to reach out and serve people. The Lord Jesus Christ cared so much it cost His life, but He saw joy ahead of Him.13
“But won’t I be taken advantage of?” you ask. Yes, you will.14 Benedict Arnold had enough – no one was going to take further advantage of him. He put up a “them” versus “me” wall. In contrast, Moses forgot about himself. Even though he was being carried along in the current of faithless Israel for 40 years of wilderness wandering, Moses focused on God’s glory. How wise.
How to Overcome Feeling Unappreciated We do not want to merely survive; we want to thrive, and live joy-filled lives. How do we do that?
*Faith Frontier Recognize that defeating this emotion is a faith issue. Faith that God loves you will make you secure, liberating you to handle being unappreciated from a position of strength. Jesus prayed in John 17:23 “. . . You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me” [Emphasis KGK].
What does this mean? It means that the same way — just like – with the same intensity — with the same forever commitment — God the Father loves His Son, Jesus Christ, the Father loves “them,” meaning believers. If you are a Christian, God loves you the same way He loves Jesus Christ. Do you believe that? Do you have faith that the Father loves you like He loves His Son?
That’s important because He knows that as you lose yourself in who and what He is (which is my definition of worship), you will feel appreciated as a side benefit. If you doubt that He loves you, cry out to God to bring that home to your mind and heart in such a way that you live with it as a daily reality.
Your circumstances may scream the opposite, but by faith we know that God loves us. “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). Faith is the currency of Heaven. The coinage of the realm. Ask God for more faith.
*Extreme Realize that while people may do things around the edges of extreme, God specializes in extreme. For example, who would have known just one act of disobedience (eating forbidden fruit Genesis 3:4-7) would plunge the whole world into misery? That one sin birthed all human misery. That’s extreme.
People punished forever in a place of isolation and flames – Hell. Also extreme.
Life can be trying, difficult and demanding. Recently I read of a young African woman named Leah who was singled out by the terrorist group Boko Haram for extra abuse because she is a Christian. About 200 young women were taken captives from a school in Nigeria by this group in about 2015. Such extreme hardship and misery will be met with equally extreme reward and joy in the next life.
Most of us live more ordinary lives than being taken captive by terrorists. Still, every diligent Christian who takes seriously the Great Commission (evangelism and discipleship) and the Great Commandment (love one another) will become exasperated, exhausted, used up and spent acting on those two commands. And it goes on and on and on for the decades of a dedicated life.
Why shouldn’t God design a future happiness as extreme as the hardship, stress and tension endured by His faithful ones?
*Satan Coming in the Back Door If we find ourselves thinking, ”No one is working as hard as I am” [indeed, maybe no one is], or “They do not understand what this has cost me” [True, they probably don’t], satan is trying to get in the back door. He is using your dedication against you; trying to flip your interpretation of the situation.
Recognize you are in spiritual warfare, so you need to purposely take a break. Stop being so spiritual. Read a novel, go out for a meal, spontaneously drop over to see a friend, take a day off (A week? A month if necessary.15) A self-righteous, martyrdom spirit will spread much negativity. Emotional freedom means no “poor me” attitude.
*Reward God tells us that He will reward His faithful servants. True, the reward is not now, but it is sure to come and then all who did serve the Lord will be extremely glad and joyful and happy.
- “. . . each will be rewarded according to his own labor.” I Corinthians 3:8.
- “. . . you know that God will reward everyone for whatever good he does.” Ephesians 6:8
- “And whoever gives a cup of cold water in My name, shall not lose his reward.” Matthew 10:42“
- “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things [nothing impressive to other people; nothing influential by human standards]; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness.” Matthew 25:23 (And God knows how to do happy. Psalm 16:11.)
- “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people . . . .” Hebrews 6:10
- “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me . . . great is your reward in
Heaven . . . .” Matthew 5:11 & 12
God is at work in ways we clearly do not understand. Greater than the isolation, hardship, stress, emotional abandonment, and struggle – will be the reward. Romans 8:18 says so. Forever is a long time to bask in the smile of the God-Man, Jesus Christ. Even if others have not caught on that God created you with value, or that you make contributions to His kingdom, He appreciates His own.
A friend teaches at a university. In previous years he taught undergraduates. They would come to class with ear buds in to listen to their music. They would text with their phones and disengage from the class. It would be easy for my Christian professor friend to install a protective wall, become crusty, cynical and caustic to these lazy, indifferent students who were not paying for their own education.
9. Similarly, my 38-year-old son, who teaches high school math in a public school, can’t get students to bring a pencil to class. And he is supposed to get the test scores up! Ridiculous. Walls could look good to him, also.
10. Matthew 5:39
11. No Gospel records that Jesus “turned the other cheek.” See Matthew 26:67, 27:27-31, Mark 15:16-20, Luke 22:63, 64, John 18:28 –19:16.
12. Former Administrative Pastor, Cornerstone Baptist Church, Roseville, Michigan http://www.cbcroseville.org
13. Hebrews 12:2
14. The Lord Jesus Christ answers this question in John 12:24
15. Some missionaries come home so exhausted it takes one year for them to recover. Some never recover.