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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