Building a better future: How to handle insults and ridicule
If you’re going to build a better future, not everybody’s going to like it. In fact, one of the biggest ways God tests your character is through how you respond to critics. In this message, we look at how we should respond when faced with ridicule and insults.
Something To Talk About:
- People will try to stop you with ridicule: Negative people will distract you. You know God has given you an important assignment. But these naysayers tell you that you’re the wrong person. You’ve got the wrong idea. You’re doing it the wrong way. Nehemiah wasn’t a pastor or a priest. He was a man who had an idea to rebuild Jerusalem and started by rebuilding the wall to protect it. He encountered instant opposition. Even today opportunity comes with opposition. Opportunity plus opposition equals God’s will. Nehemiah’s enemies tried all sorts of things to stop him from rebuilding the wall. They tried ridicule, rumors, and threats. When none of that worked, they tried to slow him down with discussion. Critics who want to prevent you from doing what the Lord has called you to do — will use the same bag of tricks. They’ll ridicule you, spread rumors about you, and even threaten you to get you to stop doing what God wants you to do. But instead of listening to them, respond the way that Nehemiah did. “So I replied by sending this message to them: ‘I am doing a great work! I cannot stop to come and meet with you.’ Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply’” (Nehemiah 6:3-4) Stay away from fights with naysayers. Billy Graham said you can wrestle with a pig, but only one of you is going to enjoy it. He was correct. If you want to go take on people who are negative about what you’re doing, you’ll just waste your time. Nehemiah didn’t defend his work. You don’t need to defend yourself either. Just let it go. Have enough faith to wait for the day God’s work through your life will be proven correct.
- How should I handle ridicule and insults: Luke 6:27-29 tells us, “Love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also” When you’re persecuted, harassed, and face opposition, you need to respond with a blessing.” Has anyone ever said something unkind to you or about you? I think we all have had that experience. This experience should not surprise us; rather, we should expect it. However, God calls us to exhibit a very specific kind of response in such circumstances. Jesus is telling us to love our enemies. Who does that?! Not many people, actually. It’s what sets Christians apart because it’s not a natural or popular or easy response. It takes a lot of courage to do those things. It is much easier to fight back or retaliate. It is easy to respond to ridicule and insults with ridicule and insults. God wants us to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who hurt us, and turn the other cheek. Is that easy? No. We can only do it by being filled with God’s love. But it is the most powerful form of witness. In the movie The Butler, we see how the Freedom Riders, who fought racism and segregation in the South during the Civil Rights Movement, trained people how to not retaliate when they were hit, spit on, cursed, pushed, or hit by food that people threw at them. It’s a very powerful scene of taking a nonviolent stance. We want to be that kind of person for Jesus. We want to be the kind of people who respond in love when we deal with the inevitable attacks and insults that come our way in this life.
- What is your immediate response to insults and ridicule?
- Naysayers are a test: agree or disagree and why?
- Why do false accusations discourage us even if we know they aren’t true?
- How do you handle insults or rejection because of your faith? What’s the limit on how much you’re willing to suffer for Jesus Christ?
- Why do you think people might want you to fail? Share a time when someone predicted your failure and how you responded.
- Read Nehemiah 4:4-5: How does Nehemiah’s prayer in these verses influence you? Why should praying be the first step when you experience ridicule, insults, or pain?
- Read Romans 12:19-21: Why could it be difficult to state that your trust is in God? Share a time when you wanted to avenge yourself but left it to God instead.
- Discuss the idea that all religions are protected from debate and criticism except Christianity.
- What did you hear? What point in this message was most impactful for you?
- What do you think? How did this message challenge, change, or affirm your thinking?
- What will you do? How will you or your group put into practice what you’ve learned today?
Take one thing home with you:
Any time you get serious about using your life the way God wants you to use it, some people will oppose you. If you want to follow God’s calling on your life, you must be willing to reject negative advice—no matter who it comes from. The Bible says in Numbers 14:2-3, “Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. ‘If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!’ they complained. ‘Why is the LORD taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?’” When faced with difficult circumstances, the Israelites decided they preferred captivity in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. Rather than doing what God had called them to do, they wanted to go back to their old way of life.
But one of their leaders, Caleb, had uncommon courage. He decided he was going to face their challenges with God’s help, even if he was scared. He was willing to reject negative advice to follow God’s calling. In fact, Caleb didn’t just receive negative advice; he was also physically threatened. Numbers 14:10 says, “The whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the LORD appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle”
When you go after God’s calling in your life, you’ll always come across naysayers. So make the decision now to reject negative advice.