“It is Me they are rejecting, when they reject you…”
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)
Life can be discouraging. Living in a far from perfect world, we can suffer hurt, rejection and unfair treatment through the hands of other hurting human beings. Friends betray us, a partner deserts us, our boss rejects our ideas, families fail to support us and so the list goes on.
In these circumstances it is easy to become discouraged and even angry, especially if we feel we have done nothing to deserve unfair treatment. It hurts deeply because God wired us for righteousness, significance, integrity and love. He designed us for the opposite of what we often get in our temporarily broken world.
Although we hurt, God has asked us to trust his evaluation of us, rather than the evaluation of other human beings. It is tempting to sink into ‘victim mode’ and to become bitter about things if we have not been successful, or if we feel unwanted or under valued. To deal with these attacks on our soul, we need Gods help and perspective.
A woman was rejected by a friend who treated her unfairly. At the same time, a ministry the woman offered to her church was declined, leaving her deeply hurt. Then a client refused to pay invoices from the woman’s business and disappeared owing a substantial amount of money. The woman struggled with these experiences, which challenged her sense of worth on a personal, spiritual and professional level, and caused her to feel that her worth and her work were redundant. Through her tears, she asked God to speak and to help her with the hurt and the feelings of bitterness that had begun to take root in her soul. The friend had hurt her twice in recent months. She had sincerely believed that the gifting she offered her church family was from the Lord, and she had worked hard for the payment that she knew she was never going to receive.
God, in His kindness, did not leave her long before he spoke clearly.
“It’s Me they are rejecting, when they reject you…”
“It is Me they are cheating when they don’t pay you..”
“It is My work they are refusing when you offer your gifting. You know that if there is any glory or credit to be had from your work and your gifts, it is Mine. In the same way, if there is rejection of that gift, the rejection is Mine, not yours. I am the vine; you are the branch. You are simply the scribe, the voice, my hands and feet. Don’t believe the lie that you and your work are unworthy.”
The woman knew that God had spoken and immediately felt the emotional turmoil melt away as the pain lost its sting and the lie lost its power. From that moment she was able to see the truth, moving from being self centred to God centred. She recognized that the rejection she felt was not hers to carry. As his child, the only validation she needed was his, not the validation of a broken friend. She had been pinning her sense of worth on others not on God. Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
As the branch on his vine, all she had to do was obey and produce the fruit for which he had sown the seeds, regardless of whether her fruit was welcomed or not. In John 15:5 Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” She also realized that she should be proud of and continue to enjoy her ministry and giftings as declared in Romans 15:7, “In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God.”
She recognized that it is up to God to seek vindication when wronged in business or any other way, and that in that knowledge, she could have peace and leave the problem with him, for God has said, “Vengeance is Mine, and retribution. In due time their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them.’” (Deuteronomy 32:35)
In his teaching, particularly in Matthew 25: 31-46, Jesus stressed that whatever we do to others, or whatever is done to us, is done as if to him.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ And “… whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” (Matthew 25: 40 and 45, bold highlighting is mine)
He is speaking here about helping the poor and needy, but the principle behind his words is about respecting, loving and treating others as if they were him.
God has made us all equal. His image dwells in the homeless man on the corner as it does in the world’s most popular religious leaders. How different would life be if we could remember that God’s image is in everyone we encounter, and remember the incredible worth we have as we bear his image! If we hurt or cheat others, we are hurting and cheating him. If others hurt us, they are hurting him. Consider the following quote from Mother Teresa:
“Seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and his hand in every happening; This is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world. Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.” (In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers, 1995)
Mother Teresa saw Jesus in disguise in all to whom she ministered around the world. She loved and served unconditionally, not just because she recognized God’s image in those she served, but also because she was humbly aware that she herself bore God’s image. She said, “It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent. If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. If you are blamed you will not be discouraged. If they call you a saint you will not put yourself on a pedestal.”
Nothing could touch Mother Teresa, neither praise nor disgrace. She was not above or below any other. She could hold the hand of the leper in the gutters of Calcutta and just as comfortably hold the hand of royalty, because she knew who she was. She had a balanced and godly perspective, seeing the face of God in everyone, knowing that her role was to serve her Lord no matter whom she served or how it was received, because he was big enough to hold her and because her worth lay in his evaluation.
Pastor, has your ministry been criticized or your counsel refused? Are you discouraged? It is Him they are refusing. Continue to bear the fruit he has called you to bear as his messenger.
Business owners and employees, have you been cheated or defrauded? It is Him they are cheating. You can trust him to vindicate you and make it right.
Kids are you hurting because you have been bullied at school or blocked on social media? Don’t take it personally. It is Him they are rejecting, and you can trust Him to deal with it.
Daughter, have you been rejected by your family? Know that your Father in heaven sees you and stands alongside you, for he too knows rejection. It is Him they are pushing away.
Woman, have you had your work for him rejected? You are His hands, His voice, His heart. Continue to minister his love and to work as he has called you to do.
In the same way, have you been praised or received credit for your work or your skills? Remember that too is His. Don’t think of yourself more highly than you should, because everything you have, everything you are comes from Him.
The following was found written on the wall in Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta:
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.
Such wise words! It is between you and your God. Continue to be who he created you to be, and to do the things he created you to do. Continue to be kind, forgive, work hard, be honest, build, seek, write, sing, dance, paint, cook, pray, teach, speak and minister anyway, because you are a child of God and it is Him you are serving. He delights over you and your gifts!
Continue also to accept and welcome the gifts and people God sends your way, for in doing so you are accepting and blessing Him. For he is there in the stumbling words of the senior struggling through the reading at church. He is there in the inarticulate prayer of the private man at the back whom nobody can hear. He is there in the loud teen in the wheelchair, and the noisy toddler who won’t keep quiet! His image is in each one.
Everyone is valid. Everyone has a valuable role to play in God’s Kingdom, even if they may not be aware of it yet! Their gifts and offerings of worship (in whatever form they take) are valid. Inasmuch as we welcome these, accept their gift, friendship and worship, however that looks, we are accepting him. To reject them, rejects the One in whose image they have been created.
Life may be discouraging, but do it anyway, because it is God whom you serve and whose image you are encountering and displaying every day!
Prayer: Lord, help us to see you in one another, seeking your face in everyone, remembering that when we embrace or hurt others, it is you we are encountering. When life hurts us, help us to look to you and to trust your evaluation of us. Thank you for the reminder that rejection is not ours to carry and that there is nothing you cannot deal with on our behalf. Help us to love in a way that is real, devoted and ardent so that in our humility, nothing can touch us, neither praise or disgrace because we are yours. Give us this heart Lord! In Jesus Name, Amen.