Perhaps I shouldn’t have clicked on that button. Perhaps I should have just left it alone. After all, I knew the risks.
Why take the chance?
But my curiosity got the best of me. I tapped on the link labeled “Comments” and scanned the reactions below.
It wasn’t pretty.
Sure, there were commenters who liked my writing and were encouraged by my ideas, but those aren’t the words I remember. Oh no, I only remember the criticisms. The insults. The name-calling. It’s hard to forget words like “stupid,” “silly,” or “ridiculous.”
I sat there staring at the screen with my jaw clenched as I contemplated how to respond.
What should I say?
Should I respond at all?
At some time or another, most Christians are faced with the same dilemma — how to respond to an insult. Whether it’s a parent, a spouse, a child, or a total stranger, we’ve all been talked down to or felt small. Like the customer service rep who is so unexpectedly rude. Or the neighbor who always has a complaint with you. Or the time my college professor publicly humiliated me when he learned I was a Christian.
As a believer, I am prepared for people like the college professor. Jesus warned believers to expect insults on account of Him, so when someone calls me a fool for believing the gospel, I say bring it on!
The thing is, I’m not so sure those public confrontations are the real test of my faith. They can be, but the opportunities are also rare.
More often, my faith is tested in tiny, private slights, like the frustrating neighbor or the rude customer service rep. There’s the difficult co-worker, the know-it-all mother of your child’s classmate, or the harsh parent. It’s the person who cuts in line, the woman who judges my parenting style, or the commenter who calls me ugly names.
These little offenses, often known only to me, the offender, and God, are the truest test of my trust in God’s higher ways. No one will know if I fire back a sarcastic comment or if I manipulate through passive aggression.
No one but me and Jesus.
Our lives are full of these small-scale snubs, which is why they add up to a lot. The accumulation of these little daily injuries, along with our responses to them, says a lot about us. They are a testimony of sorts.
In 1 Corinthians 4:10 Paul refers to believers as “fools for Christ.” Paul knew a thing or two about looking foolish, and he even seemed comfortable with the label. Why? Because he didn’t care about his reputation. He only cared about Christ’s. As long as Jesus got the glory, Paul could care less about what anyone thought. If anything, God’s ability to use a “fool” like him was an even greater testimony to His might.
Paul’s is an example I try to remember when I encounter mean-hearted comments. I try to remember that my reputation matters little, but Christ’s matters much.
I remember that in my silence, I am choosing to be a “fool for Christ.”
I remember that sometimes God uses the “foolish” to teach the “wise” (1 Cor. 1:27).
And I remember that Christ looked foolish, bearing insults gladly, just for me.
It’s hard to be a fool for Christ, but it’s also liberating. There is nothing better than walking away from a conflict knowing you honored your Savior. Insults sting for a little while, but the delight of the Lord is such freedom.
So I choose the freedom of being a fool. I choose godly foolishness, knowing that true joy comes not from my own glittering reputation, but from a life spent pointing the world to His.
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and Kind David, too, saying, “I’ll become even more undignified (foolish looking ) than this” to his sour wife after he’d danced and sang with all his joyful heart (in his loin cloth?) while bringing the tabernacle back to the city. how willing are we to be misunderstood in that way? i’m not willing enough! i hated looks of pity at my lack of ‘sanity’ when i assured other mom’s at school pick up that i was certain that my mom is now in heaven and i’ll join her someday. aargh.
Thank you for your timely words. I was misunderstood, insulted and judged by Bible leader yesterday. It hurt me deeply. I realized that this is about me living in freedom in Christ and clinging to His love and not hers. The healing will slowly come and your blog post was a great reminder of that. Thank you!
Thank you for this! I’m speaking for the first time at a women’s event tomorrow evening and this thought is part of my lesson. Such confirmation this morning!! Eases a little of my nervousness..;)
I often find it difficult to walk away from a negative situation without harboring bitterness or trying to rehearse comebacks and replay the situation. What you said is so incredibly true, there really is nothing better than walking away from a conflict knowing that you honored God. It can be such a struggle, but you are absolutely right; it is so much better to let go of the negative, and praise Him through a trusting heart. Thank you so much for sharing!
Sharon, your insight on preserving Jesus’ reputation over ours is refreshing. We, as Christians, should reevaluate our priorities when it comes to what others think about us for proclaiming the Gospel. We are commanded to go forth and teach the Good News–no matter the cost.
Thank you for writing this. As I expose myself more and more online I come in contact with these people as well. There are moments when I want to retract everything and hide in a corner – it’s a lot safer there. But that’s just what the enemy is trying to do. If God is for us, who can be against us? Onward! Thanks for all you do~
Andrea Winbigler says
Thank you for this blog post. My bible study group finished 1 Corin in December and we are working on 2 Corin right now. That is an excellent new way of looking at that statement from Paul. Very empowering.
Joyce (Livingston) Lewis says
YOU are beautiful and a talented writer! Hold your chin up high and keep on writing! I’m sure many of the harsh comments were from those who were jealous….jealousy can be as ugly as an unwanted wart! God loves you and is pleased with what you do.,,keep on keeping on!
I’m silent but it eats away into me and it hurts so bad. It’s made me fear people totally. I feel very insecure and distraught and distrust people now. The only good thing about this is that I’m so much closer to JESUS. HE is the centre of my life and I pour my heart and soul and spirit and mind and strength to HIM. I know others who feel exactly the same way.
I wish bad things never happen to me again and pray that they don’t but now I just run away from people who are hurtful. I run away from them. Think what little I have is enough for me. Family and friend.
Christ is enough for me.
Thank you for sharing this, Sharon. I wrote a blog post this week about how I let one editor’s criticism a couple of years ago at a writing conference crush my dream of writing a book. It’s hard sometimes to let one critical voice overshadow all encouraging ones, isn’t it?
Thanks so much for your encouragement: “I try to remember that my reputation matters little, but Christ’s matters much.” Beautiful reminder.
Oops… I meant… “It’s hard sometimes to NOT let one critical voice overshadow all encouraging ones, isn’t it?”
sybil brun says
Loved this! Happy to see another blogger whose site begins with “She” ; )
Sybil from http://www.shelivesfree.com
Your attitude and your writing rate a number one from this old lady! Many of our most revered Bible characters were called fools, and they were chosen by God to bring His message. What magnificent company we have in them! Some were killed, tortured, thrown into furnaces and lions’ dens, but how their light shines now. There will always be scoffers and critics, but none of them can snuff out the light of our lives – JESUS.
Alicia Turner Beard says
I love your line, “I chose the freedom of being a fool.” Thanks for the challenge to be on guard against how I respond to the moments in life where I or those I love feel insulted. Also, I pray that believers will find ways to disagree without name calling and belittling others. May we continue to encourage one another, regardless of whether or not we agree.
I am sorry that others called you names. I hope you remember that God created you with wonderful ways to serve and that God loves you unconditionally.
I’m glad your struggles did not cause you to stop writing because so many of us would have missed out on what you posted today.
Erin @ Blue-Eyed Bride says
I love your attitude and your complete faith in who you are because of who He is. This is so hard when people’s words live on in our computer screens. I love your heart and I love what you have to say.
FRANCES BOUCHILLON says
Good article Sharron. God bless you!
Thank you for this. I was taken advantage of in a most surprising way last week by someone who calls me friend, and the loss it cost me didn’t hurt as much as her disloyalty.
Holley Gerth says
Oh, girl, I can so relate to this. I pray often, “If I’m gonna be a fool please just make sure it’s for You!” We’ll keep being brave together. 🙂
Kristen Miller says
Beautifully put! It’s those small things that are the most challenging in my life. And I sometimes don’t see that I’ve completely failed and lashed out because of my hurt (and pride) until after the fact. But I’m so thankful for God’s grace and that he continues to grow us and love us!! Thanks for your encouraging post – I love (in)courage!!!!!
Thank you for this, Sharon. I can relate! Even though I so desperately want to stand up for what is true, I worry about what others think of me. I do just fine when I get positive comments, but the second something is slightly less than positive, it begins to get me down. I also need to release my reputation!
Oh how I needed to read your post today…thank you!
YES! A fool for Christ. This is what my heart wants…not to answer back, but to be graced with the gift of silence and clothed with humility, gentleness and kindness.
That is strength and courage that can only be given to us by Jesus!
God bless you…this post was awesome, freeing and beautiful!
Thank you so much for sharing your heart. I have been preparing to step out more and really needed to read your beautifully written words.
Beth WIlliams says
I don’t really care what people think of me. Sure rude comments hurt and sting, but I don’t give them a comeback–I just walk away. My thought is maybe they’re having a bad day or going through a tough situation and need more love than a snide comeback.