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Civility #5—Imitation Civility

When Christ suffered for you, he left you an example to follow: … When he was maligned, he did not respond with a curse; when he suffered, he threatened no retaliation, but placed his future in the hands of God, who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:21–23

How did he do it? How did Jesus resist the disciples’ suggestion that they call down fire to destroy a village of Samaritans who insulted him? How did he engage calmly and patiently with opponents who impugned the chastity of his mother and implied that he was motivated by Satan? How did he remain silent at his trial in the face of false accusations and physical abuse? If anyone had a ‘right’ to speak out in his own defense or to exact verbal retribution on his enemies, he did. But he didn’t exercise his rights; he remained civil in his discourse and his deportment. Peter, an impetuous and easily irritated disciple like us, concluded that Jesus interacted this way because he was not relying on his own ability to secure justice for himself. He remembered how God executed judgment on an unrighteous world but saved righteous Noah; judged Sodom, but saved righteous Lot; and judged Israel, but kept 7000 safe who had not worshipped the Baals. And he remembered how the Father disciplines the children he loves by putting them in situations where wicked people try their confidence in God’s justice. Civility with unjust people flows from confidence in our just Judge.

Wise God, as in Jesus’ life, may the evidence of my commitment to your perfect justice be gracious speech in time of trial.


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