October 10, 2020

A Humble Response to a Tense Situation

Written by Tripp Prince

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – October 10, 2020

Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?” But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things.” Matthew 21:23-24 (NKJV)

Jesus knew how to diffuse a tense situation. Time and time again, he found himself in conflict with the religious leaders of his day, men who saw it as their duty to uphold the customs and traditions of their faith. To this end, Jesus was seen as a constant threat, a misguided charlatan who was deceiving the crowds and leading countless people astray. In their mind, they were preserving and honoring the things of God, which is of course a respectable and commendable thing to do! However, it is entirely possible to be passionately convinced of the rightness of our positions, and yet be enthusiastically incorrect. We would do well do remember this and pursue humility at all times.

Sometimes we are the ones in the wrong who need to be corrected, yet other times we see friends and family walking around in a cloud of confusion and error and we are invited to help them see the light. In Matthew 21 Jesus puts on a masterclass on how to move people’s hearts towards truth, goodness, and righteousness. How? Look at what he says. Does he say, “You fools! Do you not know who I am? Do you think I need your permission?” No. He tells a story. He asks questions. As Eugene Peterson used to say, he “tells it slant.”

In this tense and supercharged cultural moment, we must sit at Jesus’ feet and learn the power of a well-formed question. We must be smarter with how we engage with others, especially those who may come at us with hostility and aggression. There are obvious examples of this hostility, such as political partisanship or culture wars being waged around the world. Yet at other times this hostility is subtler and yet no less real. Perhaps it’s with a co-worker who comes from a different faith tradition than you. Perhaps it’s a family member troubled and confused by your parenting choices. Perhaps it’s from your own children or spouse!

When confronted, our defense systems are immediately activated. Yet if you and I are truly safe in God’s Kingdom, which we are, a hard and even hostile question is not a source of concern but an invitation into greater understanding and deeper relationship. Instead of writing someone off, embarrassing or embittering them, choose instead, hard as it may be, to ask a question!


Father, since we are always safe in your Kingdom, help us to learn from Jesus’ example and approach those who challenge us with a posture of compassion, humility, and love.


How do you respond when you are confronted? Choose today to resist a posture of self-defense and move towards the other person by asking genuine questions that keep the conversation going!

Related Reading

Proverbs 12:20; Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18

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