How to Handle Rejection

How to Handle Rejection

Everyone has experiences of rejection in life, from the playground as a child to more serious episodes with jobs, promotions, friends, parents, and a spouse.

A lot of rejection is verbal. To counter a verbal rejection, we often quote, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Unfortunately, that is a LIE. Words hurt deeply and affect our entire life.

Because rejection hurts so much, we become fearful of rejection and work hard to please others in any situation. Some of us will do most anything to avoid conflict and rejection.

As a result, we are easy prey to manipulators who threaten to reject us if we do not do what they want. The temptation is to conform to their desires. When we conform, they blanket us with false praise and call us their friend. If we don’t please them, they will turn on us quickly and begin accusing us falsely—if not to our face, then to others.

Some of us were convinced during childhood that we were not good enough for whatever we wanted to do or for whomever we wanted to relate to, and so, we avoid rejection by having low expectations for ourselves and staying away from social groups and activities.

All of us grow up longing for love and approval. We just want to hear someone say “well done” or “I like you”. Therefore, many of us make the drive for approval our main purpose in life. But it is impossible to please everyone and avoid rejection. Therefore:

The most important question we must ask ourselves is: Who are we trying to please?

For most of us, our natural tendency is to please ourselves. Even our efforts to help others are motivated by our desire to please ourselves with good feelings of altruism.

Few people ever consider pleasing God first and foremost. In fact, God is rejected constantly. He knows how rejection feels.

Jesus was rejected while on earth and we can learn how to handle rejection from Him.

John 1:10-11 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

Isaiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

At times, Jesus’ own family thought He was mentally imbalanced - a religious fanatic - believing He was out of His mind. His half-brothers mocked Him. His teaching caused most of His followers to desert Him. The religious leaders declared He was evil.

Mark 3:22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

The more people heard of Jesus' real message, the more they rejected Him. In the end, they crucified Him.

The way Jesus was rejected is a good example of how people react when the Truth contradicts with their beliefs. When people cannot refute the message, they call the messenger evil. Therefore, no offense can be taken, no guilt has to be felt, for the messenger has been declared evil and it is OK to reject evil. By rejecting Jesus they can (and still do) remain unchanged, unmoved, unchallenged, and free to practice their own religion or no religion at all.

The irony of Jesus’ response to rejection is that He faced it, not with fear, but with expectation. He did not deny rejection nor try to prevent it. He did not try to prove Himself or convince anyone by debating or performing a special miracle to keep them from leaving. He simply predicted the rejection, embraced it, and let it happen.

John 6:66-67 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”

The Twelve stayed with Him, but at the Last Supper, Jesus predicted they would all reject Him. Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you." And all the other disciples said the same. Within a few hours, all the disciples denied Jesus to save their own lives.

Jesus was even rejected by The Father while on the cross: Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Yes, Jesus knows how it feels to suffer rejection. And if we are going to follow Him, we need to learn from Jesus how to handle rejection, because Jesus said we will be treated the same way He is treated. His method of handling rejection will also help us handle rejection from parents, spouses, schoolmates, co-workers, and even church members.

The first thing He teaches us about handling rejection is to anticipate it. Those who reject Jesus will reject us as well, and for the same reasons, if we are walking with Jesus and acting like Him. However, if we are rejected for walking in the flesh and being obnoxious, we need to repent of our sin and self-righteousness!

Although rejection doesn’t feel good, we are blessed by God when it happens for acting like Jesus. Are you willing to suffer rejection for the sake of Christ? If so, anticipate it, ask for His grace, and you will be able to respond like Jesus when it happens.

John 15:18-20 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ I they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.”

Matthew 10:16-25 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time, you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!”

Remember, we are Christ’s ambassadors. We need to live our lives exclusively for Him. But this is not an excuse to be offensive! We are to present the truth with gentleness and kindness. This tactic will be offensive enough to those who are offended by the truth.

Secondly, like Jesus, we must accept rejection. There is a joy set before us that is not worthy to be compared with the sufferings we undergo now, of hearing the Father say, "Well done, you good and faithful servant."

There is a big difference between religion and Christianity. Religion is often about pleasing man. Tolerance is the theme today. We don’t want people to reject our religion. So to please people, we overlook their sin and ignore what God says. Churches of all denominations; and yes, even Restoration churches, are trying to attract people by pleasing them with entertainment, programs, activities, and a twisted, partial version of the Bible that is pleasing to sinners’ ears. As a result, Jesus is rejected.

Real Christianity is about pleasing Christ, whether anyone accepts His words or not. His Church consists of believers who are attracted to Jesus and His Word, first and foremost. They go into the world as His ambassadors and servants, sharing the Word, living the Word, and bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. As a result, they are rejected.

Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ

Paul had to lay aside the approval of man and accept rejection. As a result, Paul suffered greatly, like Christ, from man’s rejection. But he knew he had God’s approval.

We stand or fall before God alone. He is our Judge—not people! Again the question: Who are we trying to please?

Therefore, beware of the fear of rejection! It can come upon any of us. For example, Peter feared rejection and it caused him to reject others. Paul records the event.

Galatians 2:11-16, When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

Peter feared the disapproval and rejection from the Jews sent by James. So, he hypocritically stopped eating with the Gentile believers. To avoid rejection from the Jews, Peter, in effect, rejected the Gentiles. Fortunately, Peter received Paul’s rebuke, repented, and accepted rejection from his peers if they chose to reject him.

Thirdly, we must act as our Lord did to rejection: not returning rejection, but responding to it with love.

Luke 9:51-56 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus rebuked them, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them" And they went on to another village.

James and John reacted to rejection in the natural human way: they were offended and they wanted to retaliate. But Jesus showed that sometimes the most loving way to respond to someone who rejects you is to quietly leave them alone and go on your way.

Can I love those who reject me? Can you? No, we can’t with our natural abilities. But Christ loves those who reject Him. Therefore, Christ in us will respond to rejection with love. Be filled with the Holy Spirit and we will have grace to love those who reject us.

We all want to be accepted by other people when we share our faith, and the fear of their rejection often causes us to remain silent. Silence is not loving them. That is loving ourselves, protecting ourselves, and pleasing ourselves, instead of denying ourselves, pleasing Christ, and giving our life for the sake of others.

John 12:42-43 Yet, at the same time, many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees, they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Remember, we must give an account to God. If we are following Jesus, we will face rejection. So, if you’re suffering some degree of rejection because you are following Christ as best as you understand, consider yourself fortunate. You are in good company with Christ, the Apostles, the prophets, and the saints before you.

However, if you are rejected because you are arrogant, bitter, unloving, or argumentative, then that’s another matter. Many rejected people reject others by being anti-social or difficult to get along with. Their behavior invites further rejection. Don’t be that person.

If your rejection comes because of your life in Christ, rejoice and know that you are becoming more like Him. Be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This kind of suffering from rejection is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.

Romans 8:18 I consider that the present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Our worth and validation come from Christ, not what other people think of us. Remember who you are in Christ and what you have in Christ:

You are a child of God – John 1:12

You are seated in heavenly places with Christ – Ephesians 2:6

You have inherited all things with Him – Ephesians 1:17-18

You are more than a conqueror in Him – Romans 8:37

You have the Holy Spirit of God in you – Acts 1:8

You have the kingdom of God within you – Luke 17:21

You have the mind of Christ – 1 Corinthians 2:16

You are partakers of the divine nature – 2 Peter 1:4

Hebrews 13:5-6 because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

Well, people may reject you, they may imprison you, they may kill you; but God, through Jesus Christ, accepts you. He will never leave you nor reject you. So continue to be filled with the Holy Spirit and obey God. Live and share the Gospel. Do not fear rejection. Anticipate it. Accept it. And act like Jesus by responding to rejection with His love.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Maybe you are one who is suffering from rejection from parents, friends, a spouse, fellow students, co-workers, or even church members. If so, come near to Jesus today. He will give you acceptance and love. Let us pray for you and love you.

If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, you will be rejected by Him on Judgment Day. However, He wants to be your closest friend, your Savior, and your Lord. You can be accepted by Him today by believing in Him and publicly confessing Jesus as the Son of God who died for your sin on the cross. Then repent of your sin and give your life to Him through baptism. You will be born again of the Holy Spirit into the family of God. Jesus will be your Brother. You will find God’s acceptance, comfort, peace, and joy in His Kingdom and in His Church