“In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer (Psalm 109:4).”
I am a teacher. I don’t set the world on fire doing it, nor do I have a natural affinity for it. But over the years I believe I have become reasonably competent at it.
Sometimes though students (and even other teachers) do not understand my methods. They come from a different educational background, or just plain think differently. So when I do something they are not used to they question me. Depending on the mood I am in, I might get angry because I feel I am being challenged or questioned (which, of course, I am).
If I get angry and begin to push my agenda, or get upset with the other person, a lot of bad things happen: I lose control of the situation. The person who challenged me also gets angry and a bad atmosphere descends. Also, I lose my confidence. I groan inwardly.
Confidence was something the apostle Paul always had (II Corinthians 5:6). This is because he had the right perspective about where he was, who he was, why he was doing what he was doing, and who he represented. He knew he was living in a fallen world. He described it as being naked, living in a tent, being exposed to the elements. He too groaned. (II Corinthians 5:1-5). But in this fallen world, he saw himself as an ambassador of Christ (II Corinthians 5:20). His methods were subject to Christ’s Lordship (II Corinthians 5:13,14). In the final analysis, he knew this world was not his home and this his goal was to please Jesus. The final judge of his life was God, not people. (II Corinthians 5:6-10). This view of life allowed him to put people first for the sake of Christ.
Contrast Paul’s attitude to that of the Psalmist in Psalm 109. This fellow brings down curses upon his opponent. The author of this Psalm calls for someone evil to attack the person, desires for them to have a short life, wants then to get demoted and wishes for the person to have a financial collapse. This Psalmist not only demands that his adversary be punished, but also curses the person’s spouse and children. He’s ticked.
The person he was accusing was definitely a bad person. The Psalmist describes him as someone who “never thought of doing a kindness, but hounded to death the needy and the brokenhearted (v. 16)”.
But having Paul’s perspective is the better way. Instead of getting angry, pushing my own agenda and “hounding” a person like the man scorned in Psalm 109 to get my way, I think a little humility and kindness is in order when we are attacked.
Recently I lost my cool in a situation, but then thought better of it, backed off and apologized. I then tried to fulfill the other person’s wishes as best as I could in my circumstances. I may have gone against my or someone else’s official program, but at least I put a person first. I didn’t do it at the time, but shooting up a little prayer would have been appropriate, too. After all, I was representing Christ there.