Proverbs 12:16 A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
In today’s world, insults happen frequently. In many ways, an insult is our culture’s weird way of connecting with a person. I know personally that I give people a hard time in order to connect with them in some way. Many times, this hard time includes some kind of insult, put down, mockery, or a pointing out of a mistake. In many cases, the people I am picking on take it as my love language and go on. However, there are times where I have really insulted this person at his core. The same thing happens for me. I really do not mind the hard time friends will give me. I feel in some ways that I deserve it since I tend to dish it out myself. There are times though when I get insulted at my core and I lash out or “show my annoyance ant once”.
The above is just one example of my foolishness versus my prudence. Another area for me where this can be a challenge is in my profession. I deal with people on a regular basis. I also have to make difficult decisions about students which may not be popular among both the parents and the students. Occasionally, an unpopular decision creates tension and out of that tension I receive insults to my character. For years, my foolishness would show up in the form of defensiveness. I would defend my character by defending my decision. My hasty “annoyance” would actually create more tension that would last for quite some time. In fact, because of my foolish behavior, I would hold on to bitterness and resentment towards certain individuals for long periods of time. And, of course, who does that hurt? Me.
I believe that a root cause of my foolishness could be that idea that I believe the lies that Satan has suggested about me. When my character was being attacked, deep at my core, I believed those attacks to be true about me. In a sense, I am defending myself because what a person is saying about me may be true…if, I believe the lie.
Keeping all this in mind, I believe that part of prudence or wisdom is to recognize the lie. There are times where my behavior may show as true to what I am being accused of. When that is the case, I need to own my actions and repent. However, that does not make me a bad person and it may not be true about my character. And, when I own and repent, I need to let it go afterwards. In most cases, what I am being accused of is not true about me at my core. In fact, many times, the accusation is more about the accuser and what he/she may want (and are not getting) than it is about me. A natural human tendency is to lash out in some way when we do not get what we want.
So, when I am being attacked and insulted, wisdom though the Holy Spirit will tell me that I am a created, unique child of God. What is being said about me or at me is not true to how I was created or who I am. When I am able to keep that in mind, I am able to have peace in my heart and even at times, empathy for the accuser. This keeps me from being defensive, allows me to own what I need to own, and releases me from holding bitterness and resentment.
Taking this avenue also keeps me from just acting like the insult did not land and repressing my feelings about the insult. When I take this “I’m tough, I can handle this” approach, I grumble and hold resentment. When I take the “created and loved being” approach, the insult can roll right off of me. This approach allows me to live in prudence instead of foolishness.
1. In what ways does your foolishness show up for you?
2. What are some of the lies you believe about yourself when someone insults you?
3. Who are some people in your life with whom you hold bitterness and resentment?
4. Is this resentment tied to the lies Satan has suggested? How?
5. What in particular puts you on the defensive?
6. This week, list out some of your good character traits. Ask for help from those who see these qualities in you. Ask Jesus to come alongside you this week and point out where these are showing up daily in your life.
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