There's a billboard company in my area that likes to post nice slogans on its signs when it doesn't have paid clients. "Kyoto, Targets Bring Results" declares one environmentally conscious poster. "Knowledge Speaks but Wisdom Listens" reads another. "Love Nature, Love God" says a third. These fill-in billboards are always nice, sweet, and kind. But a strange thing happened recently. Driving to work one morning, I noticed the billboards had changed, along with their tone. "Don't Buy from [name removed]!" read one sign, taking a shot at one of our large Australian supermarket chains. "[Name removed] Treated Us Badly" read another.
The nice slogans of the billboard operator turned sour when a client disappointed them. There's a stark lesson in those billboards. Do we really mean the kind words we say? Does our facade of niceness melt when we're wronged or disappointed? According to Scripture, true character is revealed through conflict. "Bless those who persecute you," the apostle Paul told the Romans (12:14). "Never pay back evil with more evil," he wrote (v.17). We're not to take revenge, Paul reminds us, but to conquer evil with good (vv.19-21).
Paul told his protÃ©gÃ© Timothy to display love and purity when being persecuted (1 Timothy 4:12) and to oppose false teachers with gentleness and patience (2 Timothy 2:25, 4:2). The apostle Peter encouraged his flock to live such good lives that their accusers' claims would be proven false (1 Peter 2:12,20), imitating Jesus, who didn't retaliate when He was insulted or threaten revenge when He suffered (v.23). Sentiments of kindness are mere slogans if they can't withstand the harsh test of conflict. , Sheridan Voysey
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