Melody Kinzer | Lewisburg, Tennessee
Recently my niece asked, “Was Jesus a doormat? I mean, by society’s standard?” My father’s recent passing had awakened questions in several of our younger family members who have not yet made a complete commitment to serving Christ. My first, gut reaction was a resounding, “No!” However, as the Holy Spirit does sometimes, I was prompted to look a little deeper. After a bit of research and praying, I found a more complete, more satisfying answer.
First, let’s look at the definition of doormat. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary a doormat is: 1. a mat placed before or inside a door for wiping dirt from the shoes; 2. one that submits without protest to abuse or indignities. Because my niece asked about society’s viewpoint, she was probably referring to the second, less literal definition. I have learned there are people who allow themselves to be misused and abused due to low self-esteem and the need to be accepted. Fear of rejection may cause a person to allow others to treat them as a human doormat in hopes they will be accepted and loved. This behavior is detrimental and does not lead to a healthy relationship. A person who accepts mistreatment has yet to realize how much God loves him or her and that He wants the best for them. Because of Christ, we are joint heirs to the kingdom of God when we accept Jesus’ salvation. We are adopted, chosen sons and daughters of the Most High King. God would never expect one of His children to stay in an abusive situation, be it a marriage, a friendship, or any other type of relationship. A person who constantly takes and never gives is not a friend but a user.
But wait! Didn’t Jesus teach us in Matthew 5:38–40, that we are to turn the other cheek if someone slaps us? Aren’t we to give someone our cloak if they sue us for our coat? In this type of situation, Jesus is putting emphasis on becoming a servant of the Lord. He is showing us how to be strong leaders operating in His transforming love. When we are met with adversity from the world while we are standing up for Christ, endeavoring to show God’s love to others, it shifts the focus from us to Jesus. It takes much more inner strength and restraint to turn the other cheek than it does to lash out in retaliation. Without the love of Christ living within us it is practically impossible, but with God all things are possible. Proverbs 15:1 tells us that a soft answer turns away wrath. We do not know what kind of turmoil that this person, who is being less than lovable, may be facing in their life. By responding with love and kindness instead of anger, we are showing the love of Jesus which could open the door of salvation for that person. Let us be willing to put our own feelings aside and be a listener to those who may just need someone to hear them. Let them know that they are not alone, that you love them and care about them.
Jesus chose when to be assertive or aggressive according to the plan of God. He would not be misused or manipulated. He did not allow anyone to take from Him what He was not willing to freely give. In Luke 4:29, we find the people wanting to throw Jesus off a cliff. Jesus did not meet this with violence. He could have destroyed them all with a wave of His hand, but He chose to simply slip away through the crowd. In John 6:15, when the people planned to force Jesus to be king, again He quietly removed Himself to a mountain, alone. He knew God’s plan and He did not waiver. However, in Mark 11, Jesus saw the injustice of the buyers and sellers in the temple, the house of prayer. He cast out those who were committing this offense, overturning tables and wielding a whip of cords He made Himself (John 2:15). Again, in Matthew 12 and Matthew 23, Jesus had no problem chastising the Pharisees and Sadducees for their hypocritical and sinful ways. Jesus showed He was anything but a doormat. He put Himself aside for the plan and will of His heavenly Father.
Now, consider the first definition. Figuratively, Jesus fits this description. He laid down and took on all our dirt—the filthy, ugly sins of you, me, and this entire world from beginning to end—so that we could find forgiveness and salvation through His compassionate, selfless sacrifice. He left heaven’s paradise to come to this earth, to become lower, a little lower than the angels, and laid down His life as the ultimate, flawless Lamb of God. He was both Shepherd and Lamb. He was the doormat and the Door. The Healer and the healing. He is everything, all in all. No one forced Him. He did all of it lovingly, willingly, and of His own accord. I am so thankful He did. Aren’t you?
Perhaps later we will explore a question another niece asked: “Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?”