Adding Injury to Insult

American frontiersman and congressman Davy Crockett was attending an exhibition in Washington. Pointing to one of the monkeys on display, he noted that it resembled a particular member of Congress. When he turned around, Crockett realized that the man he had just described had been standing behind him. “I suppose I ought to apologize,” Crockett said, “but I don’t know whether to apologize to you or the monkey.”

In today’s passage Hanun’s insult amounted to an act of war. Since Hanun’s father Nahash had supported David, he sent a delegation to express sympathy when he learned of Nahash’s death. The presence of David’s envoys amounted to a request to continue the peaceful relationship he had enjoyed when Nahash ruled. Instead, Hanun’s nobles accused David’s emissaries of being spies. They seized David’s men and sent them back in shame (v. 4). By treating David’s men in this way Hanun and his nobles also insulted David.

The same is true for us when we are insulted because of our faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus told His disciples: “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke 10:16). As a result, Jesus also tells us to rejoice when we are insulted and slandered because we belong to Christ (Matt. 5:11–12). We are blessed when we are insulted for Jesus’ sake.

We should also note the reason for rejoicing. It is not because we enjoy insult and rejection. Who does? Rather, we rejoice because of what it implies about us. As 1 Peter 4:14 explains: “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” Insult and rejection because of Jesus means there is evidence of Christ in our lives.

Apply the Word

Jesus’ command to rejoice does not give us license to be callous when someone says something unpleasant about us. Some criticism is deserved! Have you received criticism from someone? Ask God to help you discern where the grain of truth lies in the complaint. Then ask for His grace to deal with it.

BY John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

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