On a return trip from ministry in England, my friend Joni and I were walking through the airport when a stranger coming toward us suddenly stopped and snarled, “I HATE YOU!” We were surprised, but we also rejoiced, knowing we must have done something good for God on that trip. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people hate you, avoid you, insult you, and slander you because you are committed to the Son of Man” (Luke 6:22*). The question is, when they hate, insult, and lie about you, will you feel blessed?
Dead cats, rotten eggs, and “Dr. Squintum”
Lately, I’ve been reading about the Great Awakening in the U.K. and U.S. George Whitefield (1713-1770) is my favorite preacher from the time. Excluded from churches for preaching salvation through grace, he took the Gospel to the fields, where he preached to thousands at a time (with no voice amplification!). As you can imagine, Whitefield was frequently attacked. Stones, rotten eggs, and parts of dead cats were thrown at him; he was cursed and assaulted with scissors; and a man once climbed a tree to urinate on him. In 1760, he was the subject of a sold-out London play that included a prostitute and his character, called “Dr. Squintum” (mocking Whitefield who was cross-eyed). Despite all of these attacks, Whitefield said, “the more I am opposed, the more joy I feel”
Peter gives us an understanding of why we should feel blessed when we’re reviled.
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed because the Spirit of glory—the Spirit of God—is resting on you.
(I Peter 4:14*)
The Greek word for resting here means to “stay a while” and to “refresh.” Think of it my friends! God’s word tells us that when people come against us, the Holy Spirit stays with us, bringing His refreshing. No wonder Whitfield said he felt joy in the midst of opposition!
Another translation puts it this way:
If you are insulted and reviled for [bearing] the name of Christ, you are blessed [happy, with life-joy and comfort in God’s salvation regardless of your circumstances], because the Spirit of glory and of God is resting on you [and indwelling you—He whom they curse, you glorify].
(I Peter 4:14**)
Never chase a lie
So what should you do when people attack and lie about you? Lies can spread quickly. Charles Spurgeon famously said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” But God’s truth will ultimately outlast a lie. I like how Lyman Beecher put it, “Never chase a lie. Let it alone, and it will run itself to death.”
Let the hate, insults, and lies run themselves to death while you keep your eyes on Christ. God is just. He promises to remember what we do for Him (Heb. 6:10), just as He promises to remember what’s done to us (2 Thess. 1:6). When they attack us we can rejoice, knowing that the Holy Spirit of glory envelopes us and infuses us with His life-joy!
God give me a deep humility, a well-guided zeal, a burning love and a single eye, and then let men or devils do their worst!George Whitefield
*GOD’S WORD® is a copyrighted work of God’s Word to the Nations. Quotations are used by permission. Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations. All rights reserved.
**Amplified Bible Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved www.lockman.org