Christ-Centered Parenting (Eph 6:1-4; Deut 6)

Recently, I was listening to Dr. Rydelnic on Moody Radio. He shared the following about discipline between him and his son:
When my son was in high school, I’d wake him every morning and he’d hop out of bed and we’d lift weights for about 10 minutes. Afterwards, he’d shower while I made coffee. Then, he’d dress and join me in the kitchen while we read the Bible together for about 15 minutes. This wasn’t about correcting him. No, this daily discipline was instructional.[1] 

Dr. Rydelnic was modeling a key part of Christ-centered parenting, and that is that we talk about the scriptures with our children. However, he was also modeling another key part of Christ-centered parenting, and that is relationships. He focused on a relationship with his son. He spent time with him.

I am in a sermon series dealing with the questions that you have. Most of the questions are regarding difficult times. This one may, or may not, have to do with difficult times. The question today was about Christ-centered parenting. I struggled thinking about what direction to take this message. The reason being is that I did not want to repeat a sermon to you. However, my sermon from April 29, 2018, was regarding the text that answers this question. That sermon introduced my series on scriptures that I have been convicted to pray for my children. Today, I will begin with the text from that sermon, Deuteronomy 6:1-9 and then bring in some new ideas.

Today, I want to make the case to you that as parents, we must keep Christ in the center of everything.  

This is true for Christians in general, not just parents.

By the way: Many of you are grandparents. In that case, model this for your grandchildren.

  1. Keep Jesus in the center of your conversations.
    1. Deut 6:1-9: Deuteronomy 6:1–9 (ESV) “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
    2. Notice that in verses 1-3 we see the repeated emphasis on parents teaching their children spiritually.
    3. Moses is passing on the commandments, statutes, and judgments to them.
    4. Moses says that the Lord has commanded him to teach them.
    5. Moses was commanded to teach them so that they might do them in the land where they are going to possess.
    6. Right now, most of Israel is younger than 60 years old. This is because everyone who was 20 and older has died off in the wilderness. Three people could keep living: Moses, Joshua, and Caleb. We see this in Numbers 14:20-38. They were sentenced to die in the wilderness because of their lack of faith that Israel could take the land.
    7. It has been 40 years of the people wandering around the wilderness. But it is time to go in and take the land.
    8. However, Moses is giving instructions.
    9. Deuteronomy is a sermon, or a series of sermons, given by Moses to the people before they enter the land.
    10. In verse 2, we see a purpose. Moses is to teach the people so that they will obey, and this includes their sons and grandsons.
    11. Verse 3 is urging them to listen and obey.
    12. I notice a repetition in these first three verses that if they listen and obey, they will multiply and live long on the earth.
    13. Israel’s life in the promised land is contingent on their obedience to God.
    14. In verse 4-5 we see the Shema.
    15. Shema is the Hebrew word for “hear.”
    16. Notice first the simple statement “The Lord is One.”
    17. This may seem basic to us, but not to them. Think about it, most societies in that day and age were polytheistic. They believed in many Gods. But this is saying that there is one God, and He is the Lord. Notice the repetition: The Lord is our God. This is the Lord. This “Yahweh” is our God. This is the unique name for the Lord as opposed to “Elohim” which is translated “God” the second time.  
    18. Theology matters.
    19. Then we have three words to describe our love for the Lord. They are nouns: “heart,” “soul,” and “might.”
    20. This means we love the Lord with all our being.
    21. They did not have a word for the brain at that point so they would use the word for heart. Jesus would quote this and include “mind.” We see Jesus quote this in Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27.
    22. As an interesting note, the only individual in the Old Testament—of whom it was said that he turned to the Lord with all his heart, soul, and might—was King Josiah (2 Kings 23:25).
    23. In verses 6-9 we see the idea of taking every opportune time to talk about the Word.
    24. Verse 6 says that these words should be on our heart.
    25. What words, the words of Deuteronomy, Moses’ sermon, but we could apply it to all the Bible.
    26. Verse 7 tells us to teach them diligently to our sons.
    27. In Hebrew we have one word that the NASB translates as “teach” and “diligently.” This word carries the idea of engraving. As we recite something over and over again it is like it is engraved on our heart.
    28. Pastor, author, and Theologian J.D. Greear writes that many parents talk about their teenage or adult children wandering away from the Lord. They will talk about how they would bring them to church. But he would ask about the family life. This next generation has a hypocrite meter on them.
    29. One wites: “The reason for this emphasis on the children is clear. Deuteronomy is always aimed at the next generation. It takes the present (next) generation back to the past and brings the past afresh into the present. The children are now the ones before whom all the choices are laid, and some day their children will be there and the divine instruction will confront them (e.g., 30:2). Can they learn afresh what it means to love the Lord wholeheartedly?” (Dr. Contable,
  2. Keep Jesus in the center of your planning.
    1. This includes spiritual disciplines as well as your church community.
    2. We must have individual and corporate spiritual disciplines.
    3. Individual spiritual disciplines are your own daily devotions, prayer time, scripture reading, and meditating time.
    4. Corporate spiritual disciplines are spiritual activities with the body of Christ: Sunday School, small groups, Wednesday night Bible study, youth group, worship services, and etc.
    5. When you plan as a family, are you factoring in your church community?
    6. Or, do you plan everything else, and the church gets the leftover time?
    7. Mercedes soccer coach sent out a text. It said something like, “make sure that your daughter is practicing at home, this is the age when girls really begin to learn skills.”
    8. Mercedes soccer coach sent another text and it said something like: “make sure that your child is attending the practices.”
    9. What is true of sports is all the truer of the church. If you desire your children to walk with the Lord, you must commit to the church with them. They must be at Friends Club, they must be at youth group, they must be at Sunday school, they must be at the worship service of the church.
    10. Further, what happens at the church must extend to the home. It must go both ways. They cannot hear you mock God at home and then bring them to church. No, Jesus must be the center.
    11. Several years ago, I heard about a parent who was babysitting her grandchildren for the week. Her son had left her and her husband specific instructions to practice a sport with the kids each day. That is good, nothing wrong with that, but do we do that with our commitment to Christ? If someone babysits our children for several days, do we expect certain prayer times, worship times, Bible study times, church commitments, etc?
    12. Keeping Christ at the center of our planning means that we think about church when we schedule. We think about spiritual disciplines when we schedule.
    13. We have family devotions.
    14. We have family conversations about God.
    15. We pray as a family.
    16. We sing a worship song as a family.
    17. We must keep Christ at the center.
    18. Keep Christ at the center of our conversation.
    19. Keep Christ at the center of our planning.
  3. Keeping Jesus at the center means practicing simplicity.
    1. We make ourselves and our families so busy.
    2. Simplicity means that we recognize our limits.
    3. In Emotional Healthy Spirituality, Scazzero writes: The primary issue here is to remove distractions and remain free from attachments. “Live as free of complications as possible [so] you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master” (1 Corinthians 7:32 MSG). For this reason our children were not in three sports at one time while learning violin. We are careful to not buy every new electronic or technological item to help us save time. Instead of having five credit cards, we have one. Instead of cooking elaborate meals and having a house that is always perfectly clean, we have made choices to let that go. We are no longer involved in fifteen projects at the same time in our service for Christ. We do less, but do it better than before. We also got rid of our cable a number of years ago and opted for a DVD player instead.[2]
    4. The longer I live the more I am convicted of this idea of simplicity.
    5. We have to cut some things out so that we can prioritize God in our family.
    6. We cannot have it all.
    7. We must understand that.
    8. Create a family mission statement and stick to it.
  4. Apply and summarize:
    1. So, keep Christ at the center of your conversations.
    2. As I look at that Deuteronomy 6:1-9 passage, it seems that the Hebrew people were supposed to be talking about God everywhere they go.
    3. We ought to have devotions with our children and our grandchildren.
    4. We ought to sing songs of praise as a family.
    5. We ought to prioritize church as a family.
    6. BUT more than that, we must have constant spiritual conversations.
    7. There is a well-known author and his son turned on the faith. He became an exvangelical, an ex-evangelical. More than that he started making tik-tok videos against Christianity. One person wrote that those videos made him respect this author more. That is because this person would be at locations and talk about how his father taught him Bible themes and Christian teaching while driving by this location or things like that. Basically, that shows that this author was always talking about God. Everywhere he went, he was talking with his children about God.
    8. We must keep Christ at the center of our conversations.
    9. We must keep Christ at the center of our planning.
    10. To do this we must practice simplicity. We cannot have it all.

There could be much more to share about Christ-centered parenting. There are household codes in the New Testament, but I think the passage in Deuteronomy 6 is more powerful.

Keep Christ at the center.

When Sunday School started in the late 18th century there was a concern that parents were no longer going to educate children in the Word at home. There was a concern that parents were going to leave it to the church. I remember being a small child reading Little House books and Sunday afternoons Pa read the Bible to the children.

Who’s job is it to disciple the children?

4-14 window: There is a statistic that says if a person is to receive Christ, it is most likely to happen between 4 and 14 years old. Also, children have their values set by around 9 years old. Most by around 5 years old.

So, let’s keep Christ at the center.

Many of you are grandparents. In that case model this for your grandchildren.



[2] Scazzero, Peter. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (p. 199). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

How Should Christians Respond to Divorce (even if it is a relative or friend)?

How Should Christians Respond to Divorce (even if it is a relative or friend)? (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:1-12; 1 Cor. 7; etc)

Prepared and preach by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, September 11, 2022 or Sunday September 18, 2022

Prior to serving as a pastor, I never thought that I would ever recommend divorce. The Bible says that God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16). However, I have too often sat with couple and thought, wow! This should be so easy to work out, but it is not. That goes along with what Jesus say in Matthew 19:8, Moses gave the divorce laws because of hardness of heart.  

About divorce Dallas Willard shares:

This position [his admittance that sometimes divorce is the best option in a bad situation] certainly represents a change on my part. I recall with embarrassment sitting around a seminar table at the University of Wisconsin in the early sixties. The professor had not yet arrived for our seminar in formal logic, and one of the class members was talking about his divorce proceedings. Without being asked for my opinion, I ventured to say, “Divorce is always wrong.”

Looking back on it, the strangest thing of all was that no one objected to what I said or even to my saying it. Everyone seemed accepting of it. Of course that was because my words represented a cultural assumption of those days. But in fact I was vastly ignorant of the things men and women do to one another.

Later I came across the situation of a devout woman whose husband had married her as a cover for his homosexuality. He consummated the marriage so it couldn’t be annulled, and after that he had nothing to do with her. They had no personal relationship at all. He would bring his male friends home and, in her presence, have sex in the living room or wherever else they pleased any time they pleased. Her religious guides continued to tell her that she must stay in “the marriage,” while she died a further death every day, year after year.

I was simply an ignorant young man full of self-righteous ideas. This and later episodes of discovery educated me in the hardness of the human heart. But Jesus, of course, always knew.[1]

Today, we deal with the very difficult topic of divorce.

How should a Christian respond to divorce.

My theme today is that a Christian should always respond in love.

  1. First, when is divorce permitted?
    1. I do not want this to be a comprehensive study on divorce. I can approach this topic in two ways. One is a message on divorce, when is it permitted, when can one re-marry. Secondly, how can Christians respond to divorce? I am going to try to do the latter.
    2. How should you respond if your adult children are divorced? You should respond in love and forgiveness.
    3. First, I need to talk about divorce in the Bible.
    4. The Bible mentions and comments about divorce in the following passages:
    5. Deuteronomy 24:1-4;
    6. Malachi 2:16;
    7. Matthew 5:31-32;
    8. Luke 16:18; and
    9. 1 Cor. 7:10-16.
    10. Let’s read and talk about Matthew 19:1-9.
    11. Matthew 19:1-9: Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
    12. Mark 10:1-12: this passage is almost identical except that in verses 11-12 Jesus mentions that if a woman divorces her husband. Mark is written to a gentile audience and that may be why.  
    13. However, the exception clause, which is added by Matthew is very important. There are other times in which Matthew adds and expands on what Jesus teaches in the other gospels.
    14. The ESV Study Bible shares:
    15. This implies that divorce and remarriage on the grounds of sexual immorality are not prohibited and thus do not constitute adultery. This is the one exception Jesus makes to the requirement that marriage be lifelong, for sexual immorality grievously defiles and indeed corrupts the “one flesh” union (v. 5). [2]
    16. In 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 Paul adds abandonment as a reason for divorce.
    17. So, it seems that divorce is permitted because of hardness of heart (verse 8). Divorce and remarriage is permitted if adultery was present.
    18. Hardness of heart leads to the adultery and hardness of heart leads to neglect, or abandonment.
    19. The Old Testament divorce laws come from Deut 24.
    20. Note: Jesus nowhere encourage divorce. It is almost like triage. In bad situations we must do triage and divorce is the best in an already complicated and harmful situation.
    21. We can expand on this.
    22. I have several quotations and I do not know that I will read all of them, but they are helpful.
    23. Dallas Willard shares: Certainly there was long-standing disagreement among the interpreters of the law as to whether the man was free to divorce his wife “for every reason whatsoever” (Matt. 19:3), or only for adultery. The Pharisees dragged Jesus into this controversy, and he clearly took the highly restrictive position of the school of Shammai, which allowed divorce only on “moral” grounds. The school of Hillel, by contrast, permitted it “for every reason.” For example, if the wife burned the food or merely oversalted it. Rabbi Akibah even allowed divorce if the husband merely saw a woman whose appearance pleased him better and he wanted her as wife instead of a wife he had.[3]
    24. In practice, however, a woman knew very well that she could be divorced for any reason her husband chose. The law as practiced was entirely favorable to the husband’s slightest whim, even though the Mosaic codes, chiefly found in Deuteronomy 22–24, are obviously much more restrictive and require some sort of sexual impropriety in the woman. They also specify conditions under which a man entirely loses the right to divorce a woman.[4]
  2. Divorce in the Old Testament protected the woman. Otherwise, the husband would make life unbearable for the woman and children. Bobby Murphy shares: Jesus expresses His concern for women in the language of His teachings. Look at Matthew 5:32, for example. He’s speaking to men and instructs them not to divorce their wives because they’ve burned dinner, gained weight, or so on as the school of Hillel allows. If men do, they make them commit adultery, which probably refers to them becoming prostitutes. In addition, those who subsequently marry them also commit adultery. That likely refers to the new husbands viewing them as damaged goods, still the wives of their first husbands. Those interpretations are consistent with the premise that Jesus is rejecting the school of Hillel and its liberal approach to divorce.      
    1. Again, Willard: It is not an accident that Jesus deals with divorce [in Matthew 5: 31-32] after having dealt with anger, contempt, and obsessive desire. Just ask yourself how many divorces would occur, and in how many cases the question of divorce would never even have arisen, if anger, contempt, and obsessive fantasized desire were eliminated. The answer is, of course, hardly any at all.[5]
    2. Is, then, divorce ever justifiable for Jesus? I think it clearly is. His principle of the hardness of hearts allows it, though its application would require great care. Perhaps divorce must be viewed somewhat as the practice of triage in medical care. Decisions must be made as to who cannot, under the circumstances, be helped. They are then left to die so that those who can be helped should live.[6]
    3. Divorce, if it were rightly done, would be done as an act of love. It would be dictated by love and done for the honest good of the people involved. Such divorce, though rare, remains nonetheless possible and may be necessary. If it were truly done on this basis, it would be rightly done, in spite of the heartbreak and loss it is sure to involve.[7]
  3. Further: Richard Foster captures the essence of Jesus’ teachings on divorce better than anyone I’ve read.  He writes: “Jesus was not trying to set down a legalistic set of rules to determine when divorce was allowable.  He was striking at the spirit in which people live with each other.” 
  4. How is a Christian to respond?
    1. Suppose that you have a relative going through a divorce, how do you respond? I believe that we should respond with compassion, with love, and with forgiveness.
    2. This is the case regardless of whether we believe that the divorce was permitted or not.
    3. Certainly, if they are Christians and respect the Scriptures, and if you have opportunity prior to the divorce, you can share the above material and recommend they get marital counseling.
    4. Suppose that the divorce is over and has happened, then it is time to offer support.
    5. We must support them, and we must love them.
    6. Loving them does not mean condoning the divorce, but the divorce is over now.
    7. Encourage others to calm down from vindictive or self-centered hostile ways of relating.[8]
    8. Make sure that you forgive your relatives, or friends.
    9. If there are children involved, do not talk negatively about either spouse in front of the children.
    10. Divorce affects more than the immediate family, and so I encourage you to be willing to get help. I am glad to talk with you and support you. Celebrate Recovery can help. A Christian counselor or friend can help as well.
    11. Avoiding Harmful Thinking: They include the following, which are not limited to divorcing couples but can apply to other problem situations as well:
      1. Making sweeping generalizations about oneself or others. These generalizations may have little or no basis in fact, but they can pull people down. Examples might include: “I am completely incompetent as a parent,” or “My former spouse wants to get even with everybody.”
      2. Developing and anticipating unrealistic expectations.
      3. Living out self-fulfilling prophecies. For example, a person may conclude that “from now on my life will be miserable.” This attitude, in turn, can make life miserable.
      4. Always being defensive and expecting the worst. This can lead to behavior that alienates people and brings the worst.
      5. Wallowing in one’s problems, talking about them incessantly, and always focusing on the negative.
      6. Blaming others persistently, especially one’s mate.
      7. Rushing to new jobs, new locations, or new churches in an attempt to start fresh but without careful prior thought to the wisdom of the new moves.
      8. Living through others, such as finding satisfaction only in one’s children or in the achievements of others.
      9. Assuming that life only can be meaningful again when there is another marriage.[10]
      10. I can go on and on about how important it is to get help after you or a relative go through divorce. I know that this affects extended family as well. For example, what do you do at Thanksgiving and holidays? I believe it is important to do the most loving thing possible. This is especially important if children are involved.
      11. Always remember grace. God gives us grace and we must give grace to others.
      12. Remember, you may not want to be around someone, but that person is the mother or father of your grandchildren. Try to view it from the children’s perspective.
  5. The following is especially helpful for the immediate victim of divorce, but it applies to relatives and friends as well. It comes from a counseling book by Dr. Gary Collins:

C.S. Lewis writes:

…Christianity teaches that marriage is for life. There is, of course, a difference here between different Churches: some do not admit divorce at all; some allow it reluctantly in very special cases. It is a great pity that Christians should disagree about such a question; but for an ordinary layman the thing to notice is that the Churches all agree with one another about marriage a great deal more than any of them agrees with the outside world. I mean, they all regard divorce as something like cutting up a living body, as a kind of surgical operation. Some of them think the operation so violent that it cannot be done at all; others admit it as a desperate remedy in extreme cases. They are all agreed that it is more like having both your legs cut off than it is like dissolving a business partnership or even deserting a regiment.[11]

Yet, it does happen and that is when we must exercise love, forgiveness, and support.

Below from Dr. Stratton, Asbury Theological Seminary

  • Remember the hurt: you don’t have to forget

“When we are hurt, we often try to protect ourselves by denying it.  But if unforgiveness keeps intruding into your thoughts and feelings, consider forgiving. Recall the hurt as objectively as possible. Don’t rail against the person who hurt you, waste time wishing for an apology that will never be offered, or dwell on your victimization. Instead, admit that a wrong was done to you and set your sights on its repair.” (from class notes powerpoint: PC510 Asbury)

  • Empathize

Empathy involves seeing things from another person’s point of view and identifying with the pressures that made the person hurt you.

How would he or she explain the harmful acts? Forgiveness is facilitated when we can look at the transgression from multiple perspectives.  The harmful act is seen more objectively when we can step outside of the victim role.  We have a chance to view what happened from a bigger perspective – one that includes the human and the divine.  (from class notes powerpoint: PC510 Asbury)

  • Altruistic gift: selfless gift

Empathy can prepare you for forgiving, but to give that gift of forgiveness, consider yourself. Have you ever harmed or offended a friend, a parent, or a partner who later forgave you? Think about your guilt. Then consider the way you felt when you were forgiven. Most people say, “I felt free. The chains were broken.” By recalling your own guilt and the gratitude over being forgiven, you can develop the desire to give that gift of freedom to the person who hurt you. (from class notes powerpoint: PC510 Asbury)

  • Commitment: you will have to stay committed

When you forgive, you can eventually doubt that you have forgiven. When people remember a previous injury or offense, they often interpret it as evidence that they must not have forgiven. If you make your forgiveness tangible, you are less likely to doubt it later. Tell a friend, partner, or counselor that you have forgiven the person who hurt you. Write a “certificate of forgiveness,” stating that you have, as of today, forgiven. (from class notes powerpoint: PC510 Asbury)

  • Hold on

When you doubt that you’ve forgiven, remind yourself of the Pyramid, refer to your certificate of forgiveness, and tell yourself that a painful memory does not disqualify the hard work of forgiving that you have done. Instead of trying to stop unforgiving thoughts, think realistically about the forgiveness you have experienced. If you continue to doubt your forgiveness, work back through these steps to REACH forgiveness. (from class notes powerpoint: PC510 Asbury)


[1] Willard, Dallas. The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God (p. 173). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

[2] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1860–1861.

[3] Willard, Dallas. The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God (pp. 168-169). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Willard, Dallas. The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God (p. 172). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid. (172-173)

[8] Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide, 3rd ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 619.

[9] Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide, 3rd ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 621.

44 Mel Krantzler, Creative Divorce: A New Opportunity for Personal Growth (New York: M. Evans, 1974), 103–116.

[10] Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide, 3rd ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 621–622.

[11] Lewis, C. S.. Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis Signature Classics) (p. 105). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

How are We to Respond to Rejection, especially by the Church, Spouse, or Parents? (Matt 22:16; Romans 8:31-33)

I do not know about you, but I can be thin-skinned.

I have a problem…

I have only recently realized my problem. Over the last few years, I realized how much I try to keep everyone happy. A few months back, I was reminded about this from an article through Desiring God.

The article began this way:

“Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face?”

Cassius, one of the villains in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, is ambitious. He sees Julius Caesar ascending to power, and Cassius hates it. Yet he knows, like Scar in The Lion King, that if he wants to take down Caesar, he must gain powerful allies. Brutus, a noble war hero, is such a man.

Cassius slithers up to Brutus while Brutus is in some untold conflict with himself (perhaps fighting a similar concern with Caesar’s rise). Listen again to his question,

“Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face?” (1.2.51)

Cassius asks Brutus if he can see himself. In other words, Cassius asks if he can properly know himself — see Brutus as Brutus is — without the help of another.

“No, Cassius,” Brutus responds, “for the eye sees not itself, but by reflection, by some other things.” (1.2.52–53)

As the eye cannot see its own face, Brutus responds, neither can he know himself alone. He must see his reflection by some mirror. Cassius, to recruit this needed Knight to checkmate the potential King, offers to be that mirror for Brutus. Flatteringly, he reflects a majestic Brutus. A regal Brutus. A Brutus that is as great, if not greater, than Caesar — a Brutus the people would wish was in charge.[1]

Greg Morse continues:

Who do you look at to see yourself? Whose opinion of you forms your identity? If you have been like me, perhaps you rely on many mirrors. Does this group think I am fun to be around? Does my wife find me desirable? Does this pastor or small group respect me? Do these people think I am smart, or those people, funny? Does this group like my writing; does he think I talk too much?[2]

I received a question about how we are to respond to rejection

My theme today is:

If God is for us, who can be against us?

  1. Jesus was not concerned with this:
    1. Matthew 22:16: And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.
    2. What a nugget of truth about the fear of man.
    3. Morse continues: The Pharisees, in the spirit of Cassius, said this to manipulate Jesus. They meant to entangle him. They wanted him out of the way, so they held a meeting to discuss how to trap him in his words. This introduction, which flattered Jesus for not regarding faces, was bait.
    4. For their plan to work, they needed him to continue to do what he had been doing: speak truthfully regardless of the consequences. He couldn’t back down now, or the web wouldn’t stick. They need him to answer; they think they’ve asked a question Jesus cannot answer without his harm. So they say in effect,
    5. Teacher, we know you’re true and speak God’s way truthfully and that you don’t fear any man. We know you will tell us exactly how it is — that you will speak plainly the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth — come what may.
    6. Matthew Henry comments: In his evangelical judgment, he did not know faces; that Lion of the tribe of Judah, turned not away for any (Proverbs 30:30), turned not a step from the truth, nor from his work, for fear of the most formidable. He reproved with equity (Isaiah 11:4), and never with partiality.[3]
  2. More Scripture about the fear of man:
    1. Prov 29:25: The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
    2. Luke 12:4-5: “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!
    3. Jesus was preparing them for persecution (Acts 8:1; 2 Tim 3:12).
    4. Acts 5:29: But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.
    5. Psalm 111:10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
    6. One source shares:
    7. The fear of man has replaced biblical conviction in some so-called Christian circles today. Public opinion has overridden the clear teaching of Scripture on many social issues.[4]
  3. Now, why do we not have to be concerned about rejection?
    1. God has accepted you.
    2. Eph 1:3-6: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
    3. We do not accept God, he accepts us.
    4. We are saved by grace (Eph 2:8-9).
    5. We must live with Jesus (John 15).  
  4. Read your Romans.
    1. Romans 8:31–33 (ESV): 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
    2. Who is to condemn (Romans 8:34)?
    3. If you are in Christ no one can condemn you. Jesus has saved you.
    4. Jesus died, and was raised for you. Jesus is at the right hand of God, that is the place of authority, interceding for you.
    5. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Remember if God sent Jesus to the cross for us what more can God do to show that He cares? No one can separate us. Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, no, nothing can separate us from God’s love. 
    6. See the rest of that passage: Romans 8:34-38: Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    7. We are more than conquerors, but how? Through God, who loved us.
    8. Because of the salvation that God freely gives us we are more than conquerors, but not because of what we do, but what He has done. It is all about Jesus.
    9. Paul repeats with great detail that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    10. Notice the end, “in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”
  5. Applications:
    1. The question related to how we deal with being rejected by a spouse or family member.
    2. Read, mediate on, memorize those passages. Fuel your life with Christ. Pour yourself into Jesus.
    3. Jesus told us this would happen.
    4. Luke 12:51-53: Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
    5. Read testimonies of Christians who have faced this.
    6. If God accepted us, that is all that matters.
    7. Ultimately, if God forgives me what else is concerning.
    8. We must forgive others as God has forgiven us (Eph 4:32).
    9. We must get support, talk to Christian friends, prayer partners, counselors (Prov 27:17; Ecc 4:12).
    10. We must stay in the spiritual disciplines to make sure we are getting our hope from Christ.
    11. We must stay close to Jesus to make sure that we are being fueled by our relationship with Him (John 15:1-5).
    12. Pray Scripture.
    13. When we have the fear of man or the fear of people pleasing we must consult scripture and pray. If we have done what is right we should leave it to God.
    14. Journaling and prayer journaling may help.
    15. Seek a counselor. I recommend Emerge Counseling services. We want a counselor with a Biblical worldview. I am also willing to meet and help. Talking to a strong Christian friend will help a lot.
    16. Psalm 119:9-11: meditate on Scripture.
    17. Spiritual disciplines are key, but not the only key.
    18. I don’t know about you, but I am done with people-pleasing, as long as that is okay with you.


Consider in closing a story Michael Reeves recently gave at Ligonier about Hugh Latimer (1487–1555). Latimer, an English bishop, once preached before the frightful King Henry VIII, an easily provoked man with many wives and mistresses.

Spurgeon described the scene this way.

It was the custom of the Court preacher to present the king with something on his birthday, and Latimer presented Henry VIII. with a pocket-handkerchief with this text in the corner, “Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” [Hebrews 13:4]; a very suitable text for bluff Harry. And then he preached a sermon before his most gracious majesty against sins of lust, and he delivered himself with tremendous force, not forgetting or abridging the personal application.

The king, as you would expect, was not pleased. He told Latimer that he was to preach again the next Sunday and apologize to him publicly. Latimer thanked the king and left.

The following Sunday arrived, Latimer climbed the pulpit, and said these unforgettable words:

“Hugh Latimer [referring to himself in the third person], thou art this day to preach before the high and mighty prince Henry, King of Great Britain and France. If thou sayest one single word that displeases his Majesty he will take thy head off; therefore, mind what thou art at.”[5]

But then said he, “Hugh Latimer, thou art this day to preach before the Lord God Almighty, who is able to cast both body and soul into hell, and so tell the king the truth outright.” (Godly Fear and Its Goodly Consequences, 237)

I know that is dealing with rejection by an authority not a close family member, but it is still an example of rejection.

Stay close to Jesus!



[2] Ibid.