Mature Christians are not wimps! Jesus told us in John 16:33, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” So let’s be very clear. We are all going to have hard times. The book of James indicates that a man who never offends anyone by what he says is a perfect man! We must understand we are all going to offend others and be offended by others. People are not always going to live up to our expectations. We need to learn to walk in forgiveness. When we have expectations of others, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.
What we can “expect” from people is that they will behave just as the Bible describes. When we realize “The heart of man is fully set to do evil”, and “there is no one that does good, no, not one”, we don’t expect people to behave perfectly – and won’t be disappointed when they behave badly. On the other hand, we’ll be blessed when they behave righteously, unselfishly, kindly.
Dick Benjamin once said, “Christians need to have the hide of a rhinoceros and the heart of a marshmallow.” What he meant is that we need to learn not to be so easily offended. Mature believers don’t let trivial things turn them into a quivering mass of tears. They control their responses and are slow to allow themselves to react with anger. They have learned to let the insensitive words of others just bounce right off their thick rhinoceros skin, and let their marshmallow heart respond with compassion to the offensive person. And if some of these hurtful things do pierce their thick skin, they deal with the offense quickly, properly, and in a compassionate way. They might say, “Hey, what you said hurt my feelings. Are you OK? Have I made you angry? Is there anything I can do?”
Proverbs 24:10 If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.
If you allow yourself to be stumbled by a mere offense, what will you do when true persecution comes? How can you possibly be ready for something as huge as suffering for your faith if you can’t even stand to have your feelings hurt? Decide right now to toughen up! Decide to get over things. Decide not to let things like that stop you in your tracks.
Everything was going wrong while David was off attacking other cities. Enemies came in and attacked his city, taking everything away – including wives and children. When David’s army came back, at first they were sad and cried. Then . . . they got mad at David! They wanted to stone him. These were the same guys he had mentored, guys he had ministered to and cared for. They were his buddies, his pals. They had been winning battles together all around the region, and now they wanted to kill him! He was at the end of his rope, backed into a corner. He didn’t have anybody to turn to.
1 Samuel 30:1-6 . . . David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the LORD his God.
There are going to be times in your life when you don’t have anybody to turn to. People who were your best friends, even Christian friends, may turn against you or away from you. People you thought were on your side may want to persecute you or talk about you. You have to decide what you’re going to do. If you are emotionally immature, you may just let it overtake you. David went to the Lord, and he found strength. Another translation says, he encouraged himself. There will be times when you are going to have to encourage yourself. You’ll have to grab the Word of God and get alone with Him. Meditate on His Word, put it down into your heart, and allow God to strengthen you.
(Karen A. Ross, in “Discovering Maturity”)