Bible Study

The Pull of the Cross

Michael Beck

God has differing levels of respect for men according to their level of respect for Him.

Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. (1 Samuel 2:30)

We give others the level of respect we think they deserve.

And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick.
And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. (1 Samuel 18:6,7)

We become indignant with anger when we’re given less respect than we believe we deserve.

And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?
And Saul eyed David from that day and forward. (1 Samuel 18:8,9)

We feel personally disrespected when others find fault with our actions, disregard our wishes, criticize our decisions, or dismiss our beliefs.

There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (Daniel 3:12)

The prouder we are the more difficult it will be to bear an “assault” on our dignity (and the quicker we will begin our “counterattack.”)

Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. (Daniel 3:19,20)

Of all forms of anger, indignant anger is the most dangerous because it leads to murderous revenge.

And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath.
And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai. (Esther 3:5,6)

God is worthy of the highest level of respect from His creation.

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4:11)

Foolish men dishonor and find fault with God daily.

Arise, O God, plead thine own cause: remember how the foolish man reproacheth thee daily. (Psalm 74:22)

What is reproach?

To reproach someone is to express disapproval or disappointment with them; it is to blame, censure or criticize them.

The lack of honor men show God causes Him indignation every day.

God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. (Psalm 7:11)

angry > Hebrew – za’am > indignant

God gains the highest level of honor from those who realize how merciful and longsuffering He has been to them.

The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.
The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee. (Psalm 145:8-10)

It is difficult enough for men to bear just criticism, let alone unjust criticism.

Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite?
For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought, and stripped the naked of their clothing.
Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry…
Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken. (Job 22:5-7,9)

God’s justice requires the righteous to be justified and the wicked to be condemned.

If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked. (Deuteronomy 25:1)

If we are guilty we must take responsibility for our wrong, admit to it and accept the consequences.

And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. (Deuteronomy 25:2)

Our hearts are tried when 1.) we don’t receive the level of praise/honor we believe is due us, or 2.) we receive a level of criticism/blame we believe is not due us.

As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise. (Proverbs 27:21)

We naturally tend toward self-justification/defensiveness.

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts. (Proverbs 21:2)

We find it intolerable to be unjustly reproached or punished.

God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.
My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live. (Job 27:5,6)

As long as we “fight” for our own righteousness we cannot own the righteousness of Christ. Paul was willing to lose his righteousness in order to be “found” in Christ.

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death (Philippians 3:7-10)

What is the righteousness of Christ found in?

1.) His willingness to be deemed a sinner although He had not committed one sin.

For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. (Luke 22:37)

2.) His willingness to be ignored and rejected by those who could have been closest to Him.

He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (John 1:10,11)

3.) His willingness to be treated like a worm although He was God in the flesh.

But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. (Psalm 22:6)

I became also a reproach unto them: when they looked upon me they shaked their heads. (Psalm 109:25)

4.) His willingness to be deemed guilty when He was truly innocent.

And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?
And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly. (Matthew 27:12-14)

5.) His willingness to accept with patience “stripes” He did not deserve.

I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. (Isaiah 50:6)

6.) His unwillingness to retaliate when he was unjustly dishonored.

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously (1 Peter 2:21-23)

Disrespect and criticism hurts. Jesus was not unaffected by man’s treatment of Him.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:3)

Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee.
Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.
They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. (Psalm 69:19-21)

Although we hurt and feel angry when we are unjustly reproached or dishonored we gain a greater level of honor by showing patience and longsuffering.

It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling. (Proverbs 20:3)

A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches. (Proverbs 11:16)

There is no greater beauty than that found in the right response to wrong treatment .

For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. (1 Peter 2:19,20)

thankworthy > Greek – charis > that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness

Ultimately, more respect is given us when we do not respond in quick anger and “pass over” someone wronging us.

The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression. (Proverbs 19:11)

In trying to defend and save our reputation we lose it.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 16:24,25)

Conformity to Christ in the most painful situations of life will gain us the greatest possible respect. We also will “draw” others to ourselves.

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
This he said, signifying what death he should die. (John 12:32,33)

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.