Summary: Have you ever been verbally attacked and it seemed to come out of nowhere? This message shares understanding about what may be going on and how the Christian is to respond to unjust attacks.
I take as our subject this afternoon, “How to Handle an Unjust Attack.”
Have you ever been verbally attacked and it seemed to come out of nowhere? Have you ever been blindsided by someone you thought was your friend? Have you ever with all good intentions spoken the word of the Lord; and the response was an all-out attack toward you? If you haven’t, you probably will before you get to the end of your journey. The more you are interacting with people in ministry, the more likely you will have this kind of experience.
It is a part of walking with the Lord. It is a part of identifying with Him. And 2 Tim. 3:12 makes this promise to all who will live godly: you will suffer persecution! When that happens, it is very easy to respond in the flesh. It is very natural to become defensive. But much good can happen if you respond right. I want you to think about some of the challenges you have already faced in this area—jot down a couple of instances that come to mind. Why am I asking you to recall previous experiences? It gives you a practical point of reference for some of the principles I’m about to share with you. Is there anything to be learned from the experience? Is there anything you might have done better? What went right; and what went wrong? The incident may have happened in the context of family. It may have been in a work setting. It could have been in a ministry context. We have all had some past experience with unjust attacks.
Our text is Mark 10:29-31.
“So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, 30 who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time -- houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions -- and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first."i
That last sentence is simply saying, you cannot look at the current status that people have now and project that in the future. People on top now may be at the bottom in eternity. Obscure, unassuming people may be elevated and honored above anything you could imagine. God will sort all that out at the Judgement Seat of Christ and when He does, many who are in elevated positions now will be in lower positions then and many who have low status now will be honored and promoted.
But here is a word from the Lord to those who have made personal sacrifices to follow the Lord. He wants to remind somebody of this today. “So Jesus answered and said, ‘Assuredly , [you can take it to the bank; it will happen this way. If Jesus says ‘Assuredly’ you can be sure of it] I say to you, there is no one [turn to person near you and tell them ‘that includes you’] who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, [that was the motive of your heart-to honor and obey the Lord] 30 who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time -- houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions -- and in the age to come, eternal life.”
What a powerful, comforting word from the Lord.
However, there are a couple of words there that are a little harder to swallow than the rest: “with persecutions.”ii Even in this life there are abundant rewards to serving the Lord; but “all who will live godly will suffer persecution.” When the persecution comes, it will be easier to handle if you recognize it for what it is. It is actually a privilege to suffer pain, rejection, hardship because of your stand for Christ. We have to make sure those things are coming because of our commitment to the Lord and not just because of our obnoxious stupidity. I’ve suffered some persecution because my approach to giving the truth was not loving.
I remember one Saturday night in Amarillo years ago. I was sitting in a restaurant that evening. Several people were there. And a man who I did not know (never seen before) got mad about something, stood up cussing and calling people out and behaving like a bully. I don’t like bullies, so there was a response going on in my flesh. But I did begin praying about the situation. And as I prayed God gave me a word of knowledge. God told me this man had a godly wife who had prayed form him for years. That he had mistreated her and that he had better repent now! Instead of asking the Lord what to do next, I got up, walked up to the man in front of everybody, and gave him that word. It absolutely infuriated him. His first response was shock; and he just stood there. I had delivered my message and went back to my booth and sat down. Things started happening very quickly from that moment on. He said something like (but in worse language), “I think I got a skinny preacher over here that needs a good whipping. He stormed out of the restaurant. The guy was quite a bit bigger than me, so I’m thinking this is probably not a great time to go to the parking lot and get in the car. So I sat there a few more minutes. The man walked back into the restaurant with a pair of leather gloves on; I don’t think he wanted to mess up his hands with my teeth. But just as he was walking in, my brother (Darrell) walked in just ahead of him. Darrell did not know anything that was going on. He saw me and walk over to my booth. He didn’t even know I was in the restaurant. This threw the guy’s plans off since there were now two of us. In his confusion he just stood there for a few minutes evaluating the situation. Of course, by now everybody in the restaurant is getting a pretty interesting show. After a couple of minutes he said I’ve got something in the truck that will take care of this; and left. The way he said that, made me think he had a gun in the truck, so I was in no hurry to go out there and get shot. I drank another cup of coffee wondering what would be next. In time, my brother and I walked out into the parking lot and he had gone. End of story for that evening.