A Different Kind of Strength
by Greg Wright
During the middle of October, Bobby went with his mother and father to visit Uncle Ben and Aunt Clara. They lived on a farm outside of Montgomery, Alabama. It was a wonderful place: the pond was full of fish, the creek had lots of great rocks and boulders, and the woods were filled with adventures waiting to happen. However, this time Bobby was especially looking forward to something else. During his visit last summer, his friend Kevin had become a Christian. Now Bobby was anxious to see whether the boy had grown spiritually. Knowing how much the kids enjoyed each other, Aunt Clara had invited Kevin to join them for dinner.
Dinner consisted of fish caught on the farm. Uncle Ben had been very successful fishing that morning, and a feast was served, with brim and bluegill grilled to perfection.
After dinner Bobby and Kevin took a stroll around the farm. There was still enough light in the sky for Bobby to notice that Kevinís left eye was a little swollen.
"Where did that come from?" Bobby pointed.
"Oh Jacob and I got into it today."
"You know, the big guy who gave you such a hard time during baseball last year."
"Oh him. Yes I remember. What a jerk! Where did you run into him?"
"Itís flag football season here. It starts in the fall. Today was our third practice. Jacob was running his mouth and cutting people down as usual. This time he went too far."
"What did he say?"
"We were practicing plays, and I fumbled the ball several times. I was embarrassed enough.
But then Jacob said that I couldnít catch a football even if I had glue on my hands. Surprising even myself, I pulled him out of line, pushed him down to the ground, and filled his face with punches. He was so startled that he only got a couple of hits against me, this being one of them," Kevin said, as he rubbed his eye.
Kevin continued. "Then the coach ran over and pulled me off of him. He made us sit at opposite ends of the bench for fifteen minutes. After that we had to run laps around the football field. My legs and sides hurt from the running. But I showed Jacob. Now heíll know not to mess with me. I was a lot stronger and braver than he realized."
Bobby was quiet for a moment.
"Kevin, youíre my friend, and I would never say anything to offend you. However, in the book of Proverbs it is written, Ďas iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens anotherí. Kevin, if I criticize you, for your own good, will you be able to take it without getting angry with me."
"Maybe, okay go ahead," said Kevin, bracing himself.
"Kevin youíre a Christian now. Physically you are strong and brave. But God wants to give you a different kind of strength. The book of Proverbs says that he who rules his spirit is stronger than he who takes a city. Then, it says that it is to a manís credit to overlook an insult."
Kevinís eyeís got big. "Should I have just let Jacob run all over me? Are Christians supposed to be wimps?"
"Far from it!" Bobby responded. "Anyone can take revenge; anyone can get even. But it takes a special kind of courage to hold back. This does not mean that you cannot defend yourself. But when you can avoid violence by overlooking an insult, that is what you need to do."
Kevin was quiet for a moment. "I was very proud of myself for standing up to Jacob. I thought I was really brave; you know he is a lot bigger. Now you are making it sound like I did something wrong. Jacob is a jerk; he had it coming!"
"Kevin, Godís ways are different from our ways. They are hard to understand sometimes. This is where our faith is tested. If we have faith, we will do things Godís way, whether we understand or not."
Kevin looked up at Bobby. " I want to do things Godís way. However, I donít know if I can. Iíve been the way I am for a long time."
Bobby replied. "Iíve got good news and bad news. You canít but God can through you. When you became a Christian, your spirit was revived through Jesus Christ. Now, all of a sudden, you have a power to obey and to do what is right that you didn't have before. However, the old sinful part of you is still there. It's not as strong as it used to be, but it can still sneak up on you and take you by surprise."
"Is that why itís so hard to do the right thing sometimes, even after becoming a Christian?" Kevin asked.
Bobby responded. "We can still be lazy and let ourselves be driven by our passions and emotions. But God has given you the courage and faith to obey the Holy Spirit."
Here is a prayer I use when someone like Jacob makes me angry.Dear Jesus, you know that there is a part of me that wants to destroy this guy.
But in my spirit I want to obey you.
Jesus, I'm giving you my anger and my bad thoughts.
Please forgive me for my rage and take it away.
"You actually do this? What if you are still angry?"
"Then I keep praying and keep giving my anger over to God until he takes it. Each time you fight against your old habits in this way, God strengthens you spiritually. Soon youíll have big spiritual muscles. Then you will be able to say with Paul, ĎI can do all things through Christ who makes me strongí."
"Spiritual muscles, thatís cool," responded Kevin.
They walked a little further, in silence. Then Kevin stopped and said, "Well, I know you're right. When I see Jacob again I'll try to make up with him."
Bobby smiled. "Kevin, you know, without God, we could have turned out just like Jacob. Sometimes when it's hard to forgive and to overlook insults, I try to remember how much I've been forgiven. Then it's not so hard."
Read Proverbs 27:17,
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.How did Bobby "sharpen" Kevin?
(He made him aware of his sin and helped him understand how to avoid it.)
Read Proverbs 12:16,A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
How did Kevin show his annoyance at once when Jacob insulted him?
(He beat him.)
Would returning the insults be an appropriate response?
(No, it violates the golden rule.)
What does God call a man who is quick to show irritation?
Read Proverbs 16:32,Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.
What does God think of people who control their tempers?
(He considers them greater than successful warriors.)
Do we get a different message from television and movies sometimes?
(The stars are often arrogant and rude.)
Read 1 Peter 3:9,Do not repay evil for evil or insult for insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
Do we deserve God's blessing.
(No: sins of commision, sins of omission, etc.)
Does Jacob deserve Kevin's blessing and kindness in this story?
(No, not at all.)
How are we like Jacob?
(We don't deserve God's blessing, either.)
Read Philippians 4:13,I can do everything though him who gives me strength.
Who provides the resources for Kevin to live a godly life?
(God provides the resources)
How does God do this?
(Some of the way God does this is through his word, through conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit, through godly parents, and through good friends.)
Royal Rangers Question: what aspects of the Royal Ranger code can be applied to this story?
- Bobby demonstrated Loyalty by being faithful to hold his friend accountable for his sin.
- Bobby showed himself to be Spiritually Alert by noting that Kevin's behavior was wrong.
- Bobby showed himself to be Honest and Courageous by not silently agreeing with behavior that he didn't approve of, even though he risked offending Kevin.
- And, Bobby showed himself to be Courteous be rebuking Kevin in a way that was polite, kind, and thoughtful.)
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