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Whether it comes from friends, family, or coworkers, we unfortunately deal with unwarranted rejection at times. Whether it is on the basis of our looks, goals, socio-economic status, religion, race, or something else, all of us have probably at some point felt like the unwanted outsider.
This wrongful rejection is especially poignant when we are rejected by those who are close to us. Often the temptation is to become bitter and aloof towards these persons or to lash out in anger at those who have treated us badly. Here are four ways to lovingly deal with unwarranted rejection.
While it’s easy to pray for friends and those who treat you well, it is very difficult to pray for those who treat you badly. But this is just what Christ commands of his children.
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt. 5:44)
If they have sinned against you, they need God’s love and grace to see their error and live a life pleasing to him. They need your prayers and compassion, because without God’s grace they will stay in their sin. Not only does prayer show love, but praying for those who treat you badly helps you keep your eyes on Christ and your heart soft and less prone toward bitterness. It’s difficult to harbor hate for those whom you are praying God’s love and mercy would save.
Christians are called to patience in 1 Corinthians 13:4 (see also Col. 3:12). Patience is much more than waiting in line for coffee or for the new trainee cashier at your local grocery store. In Scripture, patience actually entails suffering. Patience is undergoing suffering while responding to the person or situation in a gentle and kind mannerThe option of wrathful retaliation, while seemingly sweet at the moment, is not patience and does not bear the fruits of righteousness. Patience toward a person demonstrates God-like love; it is what God desires from his children, even when others may not treat you in the same fashion.
It’s all too easy to wallow in self-pity, dwell on unkindness, or replay the offense in your mind or to others. One way to minimize these tendencies is to serve others. The apostle Peter reminds us that Christians are to live in servant-fellowship with each other:
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. (1 Pet. 4:10)
Look for ways to love those whom God has placed in your life, and look out for those who may be forgotten or alone. Be a blessing to them. God busies himself with the well-being of his children. As you emulate your heavenly Father, you will bless others and grow in Christ-likeness.
Lastly, when you have been rejected by another it is essential to ponder and contemplate Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. When we are stung and wounded by wrongful rejection, reminding ourselves of Christ’s work puts our own suffering into perspective.
Christ’s Life: First, Christ knows our suffering and loves his wounded children. The compassion of Jesus during his earthly ministry is recorded in the Old and New Testaments in passages such as Isaiah 42:3 and Matthew 15:32. In Mark’s gospel Jesus stops for those suffering, such as the woman with the flow of blood (Mark 5:25) and the blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46).
Christ’s Death: Second, because of our sins, Jesus himself suffered and was rejected (Isa. 53:3). Our sins were the reason Christ died on the cross. He suffered injustice for our salvation. And while he suffered, he still loved us. He underwent punishment and torture for our sake while we were still his enemies (Rom. 5:10). When we contemplate these facts, we can be comforted that Jesus loves us deeply and that he helps us bear our own cross of rejection.
For if my Savior has undergone injustice, death, and rejection on my behalf, then as I follow him and am persecuted, he surely will be with me and help me in my own times of suffering (Heb. 13:5). Following Christ’s example by the power of his Holy Spirit, I can love those who have rejected me, even if they cannot yet see their offense.
Christ’s Resurrection: Third, Christ promises us final justice, resurrected bodies, and a new community in a new heaven and new earth where there is no pain, suffering, or sin. There will be perfect fellowship amongst saints and with the Lord. While wrongs in this world may not always be righted, Jesus has the last say, and all will be made right at his second coming.
Unity, love, and truth in Christ will be the final state of affairs. Until that time, however, the affliction we suffer in this world from rejection can help us turn our eyes toward heaven and realize more and more that our home is not here while we long for Christ’s return.
- 8 Good Things to Remember after Experiencing Rejection
- 3 Things You Need to Know about God’s Love for You
- 3 Good Things to Remember When People Let You Down
- How to Participate in, Contribute to, and Receive from Meaningful Fellowship
Ayrian Yasar is associate editor for Beautiful Christian Life.