Rolling with the Punches


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Bible Reading: James 4:7-10

When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor. James 4:10

JEFF WAS a shy sixteen-year-old who decided to work at a summer camp. He worked hard to connect with campers and staff. Even though starting conversations was hard for him, he did his best to be friendly. But his shyness made him the brunt of jokes from other staff members. The situation was painful, but he kept a good atti­tude even when he was left out of staff activities.

Halfway through the summer, the director called Jeff into his office. “Jeff, I’ve been watching you,” he said. ”I’m happy with how you go out of your way to be­friend campers. I’d like to count on you for next year.” The director’s words really helped Jeff put the events of that summer in perspective and to handle the ugly situ­ation with his fellow staffers positively.

All rejection isn’t alike. There are four reasons rejection happens:

One, you might experience positive rejection. That’s what happens when you hold positive Christian values-the ones clearly indicated in the Bible-and someone mocks you because of them. For example, the Bible tells you to have nothing to do with sexual immorality. So if your friends laugh at you for deciding to stay a virgin until marriage, you’re the target of positive rejection.

Two, you may face negative rejection. That happens when people exclude you because you do something that bugs them-something not clearly commanded in the Bible. Tyrone thinks it’s important to pray before every meal, even when he eats in a restaurant. So when his meal is served, he kneels on the floor and prays aloud, thanking God for the food. Can you see why many of Tyrone’s friends won’t go to a restaurant with him? That’s negative rejection.

Three, you might sometimes experience self-imposed rejection. That’s when you choose to remove yourself from some objectionable activity. You decide you don’t want to associate with someone with a foul mouth or a dirty mind. So you look for new friends who share your values. In the meantime, you might have to cope with loneliness, but your isolation is something you chose.

Four, there are times you face other-imposed rejection. Someone decides he or she doesn’t want to hang around you because of your Christian lifestyle. He or she might find countless reasons to reject you. That’s when you have to ask yourself a tough question: Is that person’s “friendship” worth the price of dumping your own values, morals, or beliefs?

REFLECT: When was the last time you felt rejected? Why did people reject you? Is there anything you wish you could have done differently?

PRAY: Lord, help me stay obedient to you and positive toward others even when they reject me for my convictions or behavior.


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