Summary: Jesus teaches His Followers how to minister effectively to loved ones when rejected.
JESUS ON RIGHT MINISTRY
(What to do when others reject your efforts for ministry)
Kingdom Life Series #23
Sermon Objective: Disclose Jesus’ strategy for reaching out to people that we care – family members, friends, colleagues and others who are close to us.
Introduction: Have you observed what we, humans and even non-humans do to get what we want. Infants know the power of “cry.” I call this the “most powerful sound in the world” having raised three wonderful children. Young children still cry but not as bad as infants. They use other means called “persistent nagging” (Tagalog: kulit (annoying, repetitive asking). I have a friend whose daughter have mastered the art of “fainting”. His daughter would faint. She would just quit breathing and soon turns blue and down she goes. What mom can stand that kind of “request.” Teenagers soon quit crying all together and start stealing and lying. Adults, who are now parents, can’t do these things anymore (some try to), but most use manipulation, intimidation, even threat to disown, to kill, and punish.
Today’s message tells us Jesus’ teaching on what to do when people that are close to us say “no” – when you are rejected by people you care.
Matthew 7:1-12 should be understood in the context of God’s kingdom that has come in Jesus. Kingdom people would love others to embrace the king. You would want your family and friends to enter His kingdom. You want them changed and live righteously – fully.
Others will say “no”. They could reject your best, honest, loving, eternity related efforts. They could even hurt you back. When they do Jesus now tells us, “You must not act as the world acts. Instead you must respond as kingdom people.” When rejected Jesus says:
1. AFFIRM NOT CONDEMN (7:1-5)
Jesus knows human nature. He knows that when hurt even kingdom people may hurt back. Earlier he has already taught His followers that revenge is not an option for kingdom people (5:39-48).
Some Followers of Christ may not hurt back when they’re attack personally but when they feel God or his cause are rejected they could mistake that as a call to become “protectors of God.” The disciples showed this tendency when they ask Jesus permission to call fire from heaven when a Samaritan village refused to let them pass by.
Do not criticize when your efforts are spurned. Three reasons could be gleaned from Jesus for not being critical. The first warns aspiring critics that being negatively critical of others affects the critic more than those they criticize. A negative spirit affects your life! Second, although, not stated in the text, one reads between the lines that Jesus is saying, “God is the judge.” God, not His followers, is the rightful critic. He knows everything. He understands everything. We don’t. We are not God. We always do it poorly and funny anyway. Third, being negatively critical of others denies the rule of love that Jesus expects from his followers.
T.S. When rejected …
II. WAIT NOT PUSH/FORCE (7: 6)
Verse 6 has always baffled teachers of the Word. They look at Jesus words as disconnected statements. But such is the not the case here. Jesus is still on the subject of what to do when hurt by the rejection of others.
Two things that Jesus is not saying in this Scripture: (a) Jesus is not saying that some people are “dogs” and others are “pigs.” Jesus cannot be accused of being bias, or approves the “racist” attitude of his day. He demonstrated all throughout his life that he loves everyone including those considered “rejects” by society; (b) Jesus is not talking about “boundaries” or “limits” of evangelism. I held to this view for many years until I understood what Jesus was actually saying in this chapter. (Dr. Dallas Willard’s book, Divine Conspiracy has greatly helped me.)
The issue is here is the futility of forcing ourselves to those that reject our efforts to share kingdom treasures. The “holy” and the “pearl” refer to the kingdom treasure. It is God’s and therefore holy. It is a rarest of all pearls and therefore of extreme value.
Dogs and pigs however do not recognize these values. They are not capable of appreciating this valuable treasure. They’ll trample on it. And if you insist they’ll feel threatened and bite you.
Jesus tells us to wait instead. Criticizing and forcing others are human and carnal ways to invite others in the kingdom of God. Jesus warns us these attempts won’t work.
Instead, we are to wait for the “kairos time” – the God-appointed time. To wait as God continues his work among our loved ones.
T.S. When rejected do not criticize or force others, instead…
III. ASK NOT DEMAND (7:7-12)
The best alternative is to pray, to ask God. This is an appropriate context of one of Jesus’ most assuring promises in Scripture. Instead of forcing others, trying to win others to the kingdom through your own effort, turn to God instead. Ask him. Keep asking God. Keep seeking. Keep knocking the right door – the divine door. Plead to him. Seek his mercy for the people you care.