Me! Me! Meee!
Recently, as I have been reading Scripture, I realized that there are two specific verses that I have always read through the lens of a Me Monster: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1), and “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). But God broke through and revealed to me the beauty of Himself embedded in these verses, and the Me Monster ended up looking undeniably ugly compared to the beauty of our Savior. It is true that these verses contain specific application for our us and our lives, but the brilliance of these verses is of Whom they truly speak.
The first verse is Proverbs 15:1
“A soft answer turns away wrath.” We can agree, this is good practical advice. If someone is raging at you, chances are if you are nice in response they will calm down a bit. However, if we leave this verse simply in the realm of “practical advice”, we miss the truth that all of Scripture points to Jesus (Luke 24:27). How does this Scripture point to our Savior? He fulfils it completely. Jesus is the soft answer who turns away wrath. He turned away God’s entire wrath from you and from me. He turned away the wrath I deserve for being a Me Monster. He is my soft answer. He is my propitiation, my wrath bearer. He not only turned away God’s wrath for me, He bore God’s wrath for me. I John 4:10 says, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” He bore God’s wrath! That means there is no wrath left for me. Amazing Grace!
When I hear and am reminded that Jesus is my wrath bearer, I don’t have to defend, justify, or fight against the wrath of another. There is the possibility that I will, miraculously, stand calm, and give the soft answer. Even when I don’t give the soft answer I should, His soft answer continues to turn away the wrath I deserve. Because He bore the wrath that I deserved, your wrath towards me loses its power, as well as mine towards you. The worst has been said on the cross and the wrath has been born so I no longer need to defend myself. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). He loved us, and we can love others. He bore our wrath, and we can patiently deal with others.
The second verse is John 3:16
While it may be obvious to 99% of the planet that this verse isn’t about me, I’ve always read it placing the emphasis on the “whoever believes in him.” I put the emphasis on what I needed to do. I had missed out on the stunning beginning of the verse: “For God so loved the world…” God loved first, before I believed. God gave first, before I believed. His loving and giving precedes my believing. His loving and giving was not dependent on my believing. His loving and giving is first and foremost over all. When I doubt His love and I have to tell myself to believe, I am not motivated by, “believe because you are supposed to!” I am motivated by remembering His preceding love and His preceding giving. Before I met any conditions, He loved and gave. Nothing builds my faith like knowing it is not all up to me. I know I am weak and my faith is weak, but His love is so strong I can be weak. I can rest in his love and in His generosity. As the Psalmist says in Psalm 23, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (1-3).
My prayer for you is to see Him when you read the scriptures; see the brilliance of Jesus’ love, see the obligations of Scripture all fulfilled in His life. See the blessings of obedience as yours because of His sinless life. I pray that the Holy Spirit opens your eyes to His majesty and His splendour, which eclipses all else, even the ever present Me Monster.