Matters of Faith: CHOOSE WISELY!

By Reverend J. Loren Russell, BA, MDiv.

Matthew 26:51-52 (NIV)

51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

I recently had a conversation with one of my nieces. She expressed a great deal of anger because of an argument she had. It seems that the argument was instigated because someone said something to her that rubbed her the wrong way. She responded by unleashing her own verbal barrage. Back and forth they went until it finally came to an exacerbating end. Her rationale was that she would never accept being spoken to in a derogatory way without retaliation. She was still hot with anger. Her sharing reminded me of how quickly we can be provoked, and by being provoked, I mean that we allow someone or something to make us angry enough to do something that can be detrimental to our own well-being.

The text, which is told in all four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), tells the story of Jesus going to Gethsemane where He would be betrayed by one of his very own disciples, Judas Iscariot. The Bible says that the chief priests and elders sent a large crowd with him, armed with swords and clubs. After Judas identified Jesus with a kiss, those men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. In John’s Gospel, we learn that it was Peter who drew his sword and “struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.” Even though Peter was not the target of the action, he was provoked and committed this vicious and violent act.

But Jesus always looks for teachable moments and this was one of them. Jesus tells Peter that anyone who draws the sword shall die by the sword. You might be provoked, but please don’t respond in anger. To do so puts you directly in the line of fire, with disaster as a probable outcome. Those simple words that Jesus spoke have profound implications. Peter could have been arrested or even killed for his brazenness. I often wonder what would have happened to Peter had he not responded this way, or if Jesus had not, as Luke’s account reports, healed the man’s ear.

What we do know is that it didn’t take much to provoke Peter, and it doesn’t take much to provoke us. My niece was provoked by words, Peter by the actions of others. Whatever the provocation, how you respond will determine the outcome.

My conversation with my niece took place long after the argument happened, yet she was still hot with anger. I tried to help her examine alternative responses she could have used that would have minimized or avoided the negative consequences she experienced. I shared Proverbs 15:1 with her, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” But with all my trying, my words seemingly fell on deaf ears. But my faith tells me that she heard and understood me in spite of her anger.

How you respond to provocation is your choice. Choose wisely!

Be Blessed!

20161113_JLRussellRev. J. Loren Russell is an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx, President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial & Strategic Consulting, and hosts “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio, Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM. Listen here or by phone at 626-226-1448. Be sure to friend “Matters of Faith” on Facebook and email us at You can also use the email to order his new book, “Matters of Faith: The Book.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email