Caught off balance

The Doctor's Life Support for 6 November

But as for me … I had nearly lost my foothold.

Psalm 73: 2

We can often be caught off balance. An unexpected accusation, a suggestion of negligence, a challenge – can all take us by surprise, tempting us to respond in haste and anger. After this kind of confrontation with a patient or relative, how often have we asked ourselves, ‘Why did I say that?’ The psychologist would urge a pause before responding in a heated way, suggesting, ‘Count up to ten. It helps to steady you and gives time to cool the situation.’ Jesus was once confronted by an angry crowd. They challenged him. He simply bent down and wrote in the dust on the ground. One by one they went out, silenced and shamed. Jesus was left alone to deal with the cause of the trouble. (John 8: 10–11) Many suggestions have been made about what he wrote on the ground. Some have thought that it was the numbers one to ten, signifying the ten commandments, others that it was certain embarrassingly significant names. We’re not told and it doesn’t really matter. When we are confronted or accused, pausing to count to ten is one option, but perhaps it would be more helpful to pause and consider, ‘What would my Lord have done here? How would he have handled this?’ To respond in this way would be doing what Paul suggested in Romans 13: 14: ‘Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.’ Jesus is the ultimate truth (John 14: 6) not only as expressed in his words, but in his very nature and character. To ‘clothe ourselves’ in him, therefore, is to let his truth govern our values and behaviour, in every situation and in all kinds of temptation.


Written by Peter C Elwood from the UK

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