Daily Thought For January 27, 2015

Christians Are Not Doormats!

St. Francis de Sales pursued the idea of not letting events of the world bother him when he was the bishop of Geneva. Once one of his priests became angry when he was turned down for a position that was beyond his capabilities. In response, the priest published a pamphlet ridiculing Francis and had the nerve to hand him a copy while Francis was leading a religious event at his cathedral. The bishop read it and did nothing about it. Later, instead of penalizing the priest, as his friends suggested, he treated him kindly and even granted him favors. 

If we think of ourselves as a nothing, as a servant of all those we meet (as did St. Francis of Assisi and St. Therese of Lisieux), we will embrace the hurts and humiliations we endure as splinters of the cross we must bear for Christ. These are sacrifices that we can joyfully accept as offerings to save souls, including our own. 

This is not the same as being a doormat. A doormat is someone who has no self-esteem and thus allows the whole world to take advantage of him in every situation. A Christian is one whose self-esteem comes from sacrificing his life for Christ and his people, one who is moving in a planned direction to become a new creation in Christ. The doormat puts up with all kinds of injustices because he thinks he has no choice. A Christian endures injustices patiently because it's a spiritual work of mercy and he chooses to be an image of the One who endured the greatest injustice ever borne: death on a Cross for a world of sinners. 

St. John wrote, "Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:5). Clearly there is a sense in which we have not overcome the world. The world is a mess. 

In another sense, however, we have overcome the world if we are so focused on Christ that the world can't get to us any longer. When Peter kept his eyes on Christ, he could walk on water, but when he began to listen to the "winds of the world," he sank (see Matt. 14:28-30). If we are truly living for Christ and we have become a 
new creation in his image, the world cannot get to us; it cannot ruin our peace. We shouldn't get upset while listening to the news. It's not that we don't notice the evil being done in the world, or to us in particular, or that we don't care about it. It's that we realize that in the large scheme of things, in light of the Kingdom, what is happening around us is not so important. We keep our eyes fixed on our eternal destination, where there will be no evil. I often say to those who lament the terrible state of world affairs, "Just remember, God is still in charge." And He is! 

We don't disengage ourselves from the world. Not at all. We are concerned about making the world a better place and are active in doing so as Christians, but if the world—or our world—is not as we would like it to be, we shouldn't get angry. We should work at making it better but not lose our peace over it. Francis de Sales wrote, "If the whole universe should be convulsed, we ought not to be troubled, for the whole world is worth less than peace of soul." 

from Overcoming Sinful Anger—How to Master Your Emotions & Bring Peace to Your Life by Reverend T.G. Morrow p.33-35

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