Warren Buffett, the world’s richest person, has recently been in the news promoting a new approach to our country’s taxes, but there are a number of other things about him more interesting than that. His name, for example: Buffett.
I once heard an interview in which his grandchild said, “He doesn’t give us money unless it’s college tuition. He’s happy to pay for those expenses, but other than that doesn’t give us anything.”
And that’s where his interesting name comes in. The word “buffet” is a potent King James Bible word many of us cut our spiritual teeth on when we were kids. It means to strike against or push repeatedly. Mr. Buffett apparently recognizes that a little life-buffeting is a valuable thing.
Although I know nothing about the man’s spiritual point of view, his reasoning on the buffeting idea falls in line with Scripture. The biblical Paul mentions he’d been buffeted, listing it along with being hungry, thirsty, homeless and naked. His purpose was to warn new believers about what was ahead, urging them to persevere. He told them God would use the weak as strong voices for his saving message.
In another place Paul wrote about Satan buffeting him personally by way of physical pain. He again reminds readers God often displays great power through weak humans if they can rise above pain by taking advantage of God’s sufficient grace to endure.
All of us have been in the Buffet Zone now and again, bumping up against obstacles much like passengers in carnival bumper cars slam into one another. Warren Buffett has refused to use money to shield his grandchildren from the bumps and bruises of life, since those are the basis for a practical education in the “school of hard buffeting-knocks.”
The King James translation includes one more dramatic, instructional use of the word “buffet.” It’s used to describe the blows delivered to Jesus after his arrest: “They spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands.” (Matthew 26:67) And how did Jesus react?
He took it.
It was unfair… blasphemous… hurtful… evil. But he took it.
By responding to extreme, undeserved buffeting in this way, Jesus became our example. We’re to garner inner strength from the Father as he did, counting on him to meet out justice on our behalf. This goes against our natural instincts to lash back and get even. It also contradicts what we’re taught by the world. But becoming fully dependent on God for rescue leaves it up to him to control the buffeting and also the retribution.
This approach sounds risky, but counting on the sufficient grace of God always turns out to be a good risk.
“What glory is it, if, when you are buffeted for your faults, you shall take it patiently? But if, when you do well and suffer for it you take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.” (1 Peter 2:20)