How Insults Reveal God’s Grace in Our Calling
Last week we began a four-part series on the blessings hidden in insults. In our first segment, we discussed how insults help reveal trouble spots in our relationship with the Lord. This week we’ll explore how insults remind us of God’s grace in our calling.
God’s Grace in Our Calling
There’s nothing like the fear of being ridiculed to set off a compulsion to control. It’s as if rejection and insults are actual bullets, and our task, through hyper-vigilance and skillful micro-management, is to control the death squad. How much of our anxiety can we trace to fear of a poor evaluation (if we’re prone to falling short) or jealous judgments (if we’re anticipating success)?
In contrast, we know that “when [Jesus] was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Pet. 2:23). Notice it doesn’t say Jesus was impervious to the pain of being reviled; likewise, our goal isn’t to make our hearts like steel. But is there a way we could grow in the trust department?
The Remedy for Worry
Yes, but it starts in a hard place—repenting of our desire to play God, to dictate outcomes, to control. “Worry assumes the possibility of control—over the uncontrollable,” wrote David Powlison. “The illusion of control lurks inside your anxiety.” Here’s our anxiety-producing illusion: that we can consistently meet the world’s tyrannical conditions for acceptance.
But did God call us into his family because we met certain conditions? Consider what Paul shares in 1 Corinthians:
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (vv. 26-31).
Responding to Insults: How?
I think we’re supposed to read that passage and weep with relief and laugh with joy. I think we’re supposed to fling our arms in the air and shout, “No conditions! God didn’t call me to himself because I somehow made myself worthy. Actually, the reverse is true—in his grace, he called the unworthy! Because I have Jesus’s righteousness, I can embrace my unworthiness! Because I have Jesus’s righteousness, I have peace, “quietness, and trust forever” (Isa. 32:17).
How will you respond to insults now? Let this passage sink down deep. Let the Spirit empower you to entrust yourself to him who judges justly. In preparation, consider praying something like this:
“Lord, I receive the righteousness you purchased for me with your blood. To whatever degree this negative feedback is legit, I’m free to acknowledge my shortcomings—without an oppressive sense of shame. Even if the accusation is baseless—totally unjust—let this passage shift my focus off myself.
Let my orientation no longer be about maintaining and defending my own positive self-regard and reputation but about promoting your glory. I lay down the pretense that I’m wise or powerful or some kind of celebrity in my field. Let me focus on pleasing you Lord, not swayed by the world’s capricious notions of acceptability. You are my wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. I will boast in you.”
Next week, look for Part 3: Insults Clarify Our True Needs.