Matthew 12:25-30 – Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house. 30 “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” NIV
Some of the best counsel that I ever received in a counseling situation was, “You can’t make rational sense out of the irrational.” I would get angry because people weren’t making logical sense to me. I had not yet learned that not everyone’s thinking is on the rational axis. If someone is disagreeing with you emotionally and not logically, your logic will have little effect!
Jesus had just angered the Pharisees by healing on the Sabbath. Now He was healing a demon possessed man! Their emotions would not let them admit that this was a miracle from God. So they had to come up with something other than the obvious answer, and their explanation was that Jesus was casting out demons empowered by Beelzebub, the prince of demons.
Evidently, they didn’t say this directly to Jesus but that’s what they were mumbling to themselves and anyone else who would listen. Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he makes a logical statement, and asks a couple follow-up questions that imply the lack of logic in their assertions. He then offers that if the power is not by Beelzebub, then it must be the Holy Spirit. If it’s the Holy Spirit, then the Kingdom of God is in your midst!
Jesus simply made a few logical statements evidently in public to get other people thinking. He didn’t argue. He didn’t berate or belittle. He concluded with the fact that people were either with Him or against Him. Using a harvest analogy, they were either gathering people into the Kingdom of God or scattering them to the winds.
Some questions for those of us who follow Jesus: How do I react to criticism, especially if it is more emotionally based than logically based? Can I state my case using some good analogies and questions, and leave it for others to decide without berating or belittling them? When I get into an adverse situation, am I representing the Kingdom of God or driving people away? It is always challenging for a Christ-follower to get in an adverse situation and not lose one’s temper. At least it is for me! I’ve found that losing one’s temper is usually losing the argument and a chance to engage in constructive dialog. I don’t have to agree to be nice and express compassion.
A picture I often remember is a “velvet covered brick” introduced to me by grocery store owner Howard E. Butt in his book, The Velvet Covered Brick: Christian Leadership in an Age of Rebellion (1973). You can be firm yet soft to the touch!