I have experienced being under fire for things I believe and act on as a Christian. I have already been destructively criticised, made fun of and slandered by several people for standing up for/ with Jesus. It actually hurts more when the criticism and slander come from people who you have ministered to on a life-to-life level. I remember spending time, money, energy and myself for girls, who later on will just smirk/ sneer at or snob me when they see me. The feelings of being hurt, disrespected, unappreciated and offended however usually turn as an opportunity for me to cry out to God for His mercy, guidance and redemption.
In my walk with God, I have learnt that God allows hurtful situations and difficult people in life not for me to suffer, but for me to learn and grow in my relationship with Him. In the process of learning how to overcome criticism, rejection and persecution, God taught me to remain joyful and hopeful.
Not everyone will appreciate you. There will always be people who will find something about you to complain about or pick on. There have been many circumstances when the challenge of dying-to-self and becoming more like Christ were not digestible to people, especially in loving others through discipleship. Most of them left and considered me/our friendship black-listed in their lives, while others even slandered.
Most of the time, I would pour out my heart to God and ask Him if I could respond with harsh words to get even or at least defend myself. But He constantly reminds me that doing so will not be God-glorifying. So, even if it hurts, I just let God win the battle for me.
In my walk with God, I have learnt that pleasing people will not solve the problem of disappointing them. If I really want to serve Jesus and follow Him, I should quit trying to please people, and honour God instead.
The battle is not against flesh and blood. The evil one wants us to focus on our feelings of being hurt and offended by people so that our walk with God will be distracted. The evil one wants bitterness and grudges in our hearts so that our relationship with God will get swayed and distracted. This is why it is important that we seek wisdom and forgiveness from the Lord – in order for us to see things from His perspective rather than from our prideful and self-centred perspectives.
In my walk with God, I have learnt to forgive those who have criticised, made fun of and slandered me, and see myself as someone who have offended God and others many times before as well. In Ecclesiastes 7:21-22, it says, “Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you— for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others”.
Paul’s perspective in 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 is also inspiring. He says, “Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes”. So instead of burning bridges, leaving issues unresolved, embracing mistrusts, I learnt to forgive them as God commanded, and entrust them to Him.
Truth is, we can not control people and force them to act and behave in ways we want them to. But we can entrust our faith to the One who is sovereign and in control. If the people we have entrusted to God continuously offend us in any way, we let God deal with them. God is not blind to the issues and shortcomings of people. If God can turn water into wine, He can definitely transform the hearts of those who wound us.
However, if we choose to take the route of remaining offended or getting even, God will deal with us, too. God is not blind to pride and self-absorbed hearts, too.
2 Corinthians 4:7-10 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body”.