Know when to stand up for yourself
One of the great principles Jesus taught us was to give yourself to others and to be ready to sacrifice many things, even your life, for the good of the world. He, however, in the harshest of conditions and dire circumstances dared to stand up for himself in a very strange way. He was questioned by the High Priest of the land and answered every question in a polite and civilized way. During this questioning he was struck in the face by an officia. The act of the official was clearly out of place, unnecessary and disrespectful to him as a person. Jesus addressed this unfair action immediately by saying: “If I said something wrong then say what it is, but if I did not say anything wrong, why strike me?” John 18 : 23
When somebody does something to you that is totally wrong and disrespectful, you have all the right in the world to defend yourself and address the wrong done to you. You should not allow people to take advantage of you or your situation! Stand up for yourself and point out to the culprit that you do not appreciate the way you are being treated and that you will not allow it.
There was once a young lady called Tamar and she was in a similar situation. She lived in a time when women were very dependent on an offspring to give them security and support in old age. Married to the son of Judah she had a very privileged and happy life until her husband died before she could conceive a baby. The common law for the period in which she lived allowed for an arrangement whereby a woman in her situation could be helped. It was the responsibility of the father of the deceased to make sure that one of his brothers should sleep with the widow in order to conceive a child on behalf of the deceased brother. Judah, her father- in-law failed to follow through with this arrangement and Tamar realised that she was being ill-treated and neglected.
Being unhappy about the situation Tamar decided to make her own arrangement. She posed as a prostitute along the road where her father-in-law travelled on his way to shear his sheep. The plan worked and overcome by lust Judah slept with the prostitute who in reality was his daughter-in-law. She didn’t want money but instead took his staff and pendant as ransom. When it was discovered that she was pregnant Judah was called. The punishment for such a transgression was severe, death by stoning! When the pendant and staff were presented to him he immediately admitted that he was guilty, of not showing respect for the needs and rights of his daughter-in- law. Tamar was left in peace and allowed to give birth to a baby and lived happily ever after in the house of her father-in-law. Through this act Tamar refused to be a victim of the disrespect, greed and abuse of others! She stood up for herself and won against all the odds. (Genesis 38)
In Jerusalem Paul, the evangelist, was detained because he spoke to people about Jesus. The Jews were angered by his teachings. He was detained as a troublemaker and in those days they flogged people for public disturbance. What the officials didn’t know was that Paul was a Roman citizen by birth. He didn’t buy his citizenship as was sometimes the case; he was Roman by birth, a true son of the empire. As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said the following: “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?” Acts 22:25. Everybody was shocked when they realised they had convicted a Roman citizen without a proper trial. They released him the next day.
God made us proud individuals who deserve to be treated with respect. As a responsible human being be vigilant to defend and care for yourself. Many times during our lives, starting at a young age, people will say things about us, some good some bad. It is your responsibility to erase all the negative and degrading things that are being said about you. Protect yourself from destructive discourse, for instance if your mother or father criticizes you about something acknowledge what they say, but disagree with it: “Mom, I know you think I am a flop but I don’t feel that way about myself!”
To love yourself means to defend and stand up for yourself. Be vigilant and awake, you are not perfect but that doesn’t mean that you can be ill-treated and degraded by anybody. When you are wrong you must admit it but when you are right you are entitled to defend yourself against any misbehavior. You are not your mistakes.
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