Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How to Overcome a Negative Label.

Sometimes people misunderstand you. Sometimes people misrepresent you. Sometimes they don't see what you want them to see. Christians are supposed to be salt and light to the world (Matt. 5:14-16). But what do we do when others label us as unloving, uncaring, or unfeeling? What do we do when the world sees us as close-minded, dogmatic, and legalistic?

The reputation of every Christian is so important to the work of the church. But let's face it, are Christians perfect? No. Do Christians still sin and make bad choices? Yes. It is in these moments of our humanity that Satan gets to work. He wants the world to see a different picture of us and the church than the picture that God has chosen to represent Him. How do we overcome our moments of weakness that allow others to shout, "hypocrite!"? How do we manage our broken hearts when we are depicted as "un-Christian"?

1. We must choose to be kind. Has someone accused you? Have they said evil things about you? Have they tried to hit you where it counts? Nothing hurts me more than a person saying to me that I am supposed to be a man of God, but in reality I am something else. I don't want the Lord's cause to be hurt by my mistakes. When people attempt to cut us down we must respond with the same kindness Jesus displayed when he was treated that way - "who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Pet. 2:2:23). "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom. 12:21).

2. We must strive to be at peace and let it go. The devil wants us to hold a grudge. He loves that because he is the king of grudges. When others lash out at us the easiest thing to do is take it to heart and remember the pain that has been inflicted. But God wants us to let it go. He wants us to make every effort we can to make peace with others, and if they refuse our efforts He wants us to move on. It was while we were yet sinners, that in due time Christ died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6-8). The people responsible for the greatest moment of God's pain were immediately offered forgiveness and entrance into God's family, the church. How amazing! Jesus said we should quickly agree with our adversary and move on with life (Matt. 5:25).

3. Let what God truly knows about you be enough. We are never going to be guaranteed that others will completely understand us. Even in some of our closest relationships, people may have opinions about us that don't represent our true selves. But God knows the secrets of the heart (Psalm 44:21). He knows our frame and He remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:14). At the end of the day, it is what God knows and understands about us that really matters. If we love Him with all of our heart, and if we are daily seeking His will and the best interest of others, we need to be satisfied with where we stand with God. There is no consolation or joy of hope that compares with knowing that we are pleasing to God.

I am thankful that the only One we really need to please in this life is the One who created us. He alone will judge us righteously. He alone loved us enough to offer His Son to make the Judgment Day a good day for His people.

"For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." - Galatians 1:10

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