Nobody appreciates being taken advantage of. One of the worst feelings in the world is that you are of no worth at all. Be it to society, family, culture, or the world – the value we place on our worth is inextricably linked to the sense of worth we have to others. When there is a misalignment between the worth we sense from others and the worth we have for ourselves the notion of self begins to play a more dominant role in our behaviors.
Imagine the frustration experienced by an employee who has devoted their entire life to their work. Sacrifices have been made, ball games have been missed, children have grown up without them. The experience accrued and amassed knowledge make them one of the most dependable and resourceful employees the company has ever known. Yet, come promotion time the position is given to a new-hire with three months on the job and little experience in the field in general. Betrayal hardly defines the emotional state the employee would endure in such a circumstance.
Betrayal in our culture is oft equivocated to being a doormat. The power of self, the dignity of humanity, the emphasis on never being taken advantage of – is the motto of our day. If you are presently dwelling on land in the dominion of the United States of America and have done so for some time, it is likely you share this ideology. The notion of making one’s own way in our present day is not uncommon to the American Citizen. It is here now that I beg the question – is it common to the American Christian as well? Should it be?
Though many of us feel we are to be obedient to these commands in response to what Jesus did when He went to the cross, we must remember that He gave these commands well before He gave His life.
Feeling like a doormat is a phrase the gets to the point. Being walked on, taken for granted, or plain used and abused with little consideration of what you have coming or deserve typifies our use of the expression. But for the Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ – laying down and taking abuse is an excuse and you do not have the privilege of being someone’s doormat. That is, disciples are not permitted to enjoy the luxury of the world’s option to be a victim whilst being a victim. There are circumstances related to safety and life that can be considered here – but even in those there are options in which the disciple’s call to obey Jesus remains supreme while still prioritizing safety.
Telling someone to not be a doormat is not an endorsement of retaliatory behavior when faced with being taken advantage of. To the contrary, Jesus provides a litany of instructions that inform our response to these scenarios – and he prescribes retaliation, just not the kind we are so familiar with. There are many commands of Christ in the New Testament that inform what retaliation looks like for a disciple. Though many of us feel we are to be obedient to these commands in response to what Jesus did when he went to the cross, we must remember that he gave these commands well before he gave his life.
|1. Repent—Matthew 4:17, Luke 13:3 |
2. Let not your heart be troubled—John 14:27, John 16:33,
Matthew 6:25-26, Philippians 4:6-7
3. Follow me—Matthew 4:19
4. Rejoice—Matthew 5:12,
(Also 2 Corinthians 6:10, 12:10, James 1:2-4)
5. Let your light shine—Matthew 5:16
6. Honor God’s law—Matthew 5:17-19
7. Be reconciled—Matthew 5:24-25
8. Do not commit adultery—Matthew 5:27-30
9. Keep your word—Matthew 5:33-37
10. Go the second mile—Matthew 5:38-42
11. Love your enemies—Matthew 5:44
12. Be perfect—Matthew 5:48
13. Practice secret disciplines (giving, praying, fasting)—Matthew 6:1-18
14. Lay up treasures in heaven—Matthew 6:19-21
15. Seek first the kingdom of God—Matthew 6:33
16. Judge not—Matthew 7:1-2
17. Do not throw your pearls to pigs—Matthew 7:6
18. Ask, seek, and knock—Matthew 7:7-8
19. Do unto others—Matthew 7:12
20. Choose the narrow way—Matthew 7:13-14
21. Beware of false prophets—Matthew 7:15
22. Pray for those who spread the word—Matthew 9:37-38
23. Be as shrewd as serpents—Matthew 10:16. (Also Romans 16:19)
24. Fear God. Do not fear man— Matthew 10:28 (Also Luke 12:4-5)
25. Listen to God’s voice—Matthew 11:15, 13:9, 13:43, Mark 4:23, Luke 14:35, 1 Kings 19:11-13
|26. Take my yoke—Matthew 11:29 |
27. Honor your parents—Matthew 15:4
28. Beware of false teaching—Matthew 16:6, 11-12
29. Deny yourself—Luke 9:23 (Also Matthew 10:38 and Mark 8:34)
30. Do not despise little ones—Matthew 18:10
31. Go to Christians who offend you—Matthew 18:15 (Also Galatians 6:1)
32. Forgive offenders—Matthew 18:21-22 (Also Proverbs 19:11)
33. Beware of covetousness—Luke 12:15
34. Honor marriage—Matthew 19:6, 19:9
35. Lead by being a servant—Matthew 20:26-28
36. Make the church a house of prayer for all nations—Mark 11:17
37. Pray in faith—Matthew 21:21-22, John 15:7
38. Bring in the poor—Luke 14:12-14
39. Render unto Caesar—Matthew 22:19-21
40. Love the Lord—Matthew 22:37-38
41. Love your neighbor—Matthew 22:39
42. Be born again—John 3:7
43. Await my return—Matthew 24:42-44
44. Celebrate the Lord’s supper—Matthew 26:26- 27
45. Watch and pray—Matthew 26:41
46. Keep my commandments—John 14:15
47. Feed my sheep—John 21:15-16
48. Make and baptize disciples—Matthew 28:19
49. Teach disciples to obey—Matthew 28:20
50. Receive God’s power—Luke 24:49
So remember. In these things we find our call to action in the face of mistreatment by others. We also find guidance in conducting our daily affairs regardless of the behavior of others. Simply put, Jesus has informed our conduct regardless of grace – and it is His grace that empowers us to retaliate to unkindness in love – not the ways of the world. We do so because He said so, and as King He is worthy of our obedience before and after the cross.
Galatians 6:7 -8 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.