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.

Close:

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!

Prayer


[1] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/face-your-fear-of-man

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/face-your-fear-of-man

[4] https://www.gotquestions.org/fear-of-man.html

[5] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/face-your-fear-of-man

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