Hurt, But Not Damaged

Michael Beck

“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

Paul knew what it was like to despise people. As a typically, proud Pharisee he despised others who weren’t living as righteously as he was; but most of all, he despised the followers of Jesus the Nazarene. After becoming one of Christ’s followers himself, he knew what it was like to be despised. As “a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes” he became known as a “pestilent fellow.” (Acts 24:5)

But it was not only by the world that Paul faced despising; by many in the church he was looked down upon. At Corinth he was deemed an “inferior” apostle, whose bodily presence was weak and whose speech was contemptible. (2 Cor. 10:10; 12:13) Such carnal people gloried in men and saw others with carnal eyes. How well Paul knew this spirit, and the damage it produced. Those living under a critical eye tend to become men-pleasers. The fear of man breeds shyness and timidity, bringing our soul into a paralyzing snare. (Prov. 29:25)

Knowing their bent, Paul called upon the Corinthians to not despise Timothy when he was with them. “Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. Let no man therefore despise him …” (1 Cor. 16:10,11) We can rightly tell people not to do something hurtful, but we can’t control their actions. We don’t know whether the Corinthians took heed to Paul’s instruction or not. We do know that some ten years later Paul exhorts Timothy: “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Tim. 4:12)

What does the apostle mean when he says, “Let no man despise thy youth”? Does he want his son in the faith to get up in arms if anyone looks down on him for being a young minister? Should Timothy go after those who dare disrespect him? Absolutely not. He is to be an example to the believers of love in the face of rejection. He is to overcome the feelings of inferiority and the response of timidity that despising can produce. He is to continue to love and give and serve, even when he is not respected, loved, and appreciated as he should be.

Yes, people should be kind, and we do well to instruct them to be so; but so often, they are not. They shouldn’t judge others superficially or incorrectly, but they do. No, we cannot control the attitudes or actions of others; but, by the help of the Spirit of Christ, we can not be overcome by the ignorance or cruelty of men. Instead of letting the devil use them to damage us, we can grow even stronger in the Spirit and witness of Christ.

Offenses will come. We can tell another not to let ill-treatment bother them; but truth be told, it is impossible not to be hurt when we are despised. But we follow One who was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Yet, He was an overcomer: hurt, but not damaged by the hurt.

God calls us to love each other, and “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour” (Rom. 13:10) But He would also prepare us for life in a world which does not walk in His instruction. There is the world that should be; and the world that is. Be perfect even as your Master was: by His Spirit that lives within you do no harm to anyone, but by His stripes find healing for all of the trauma human unkindness inflicts upon you. Through the love of Christ, don’t stumble at the stumbling-blocks that are laid before you. Like Christ, don’t let evil overcome and damage your spirit; through the ministry of His Spirit to your hurting soul, overcome evil with good.

“He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.” (1 John 2:10)

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.