Don’t settle for less, #04: Don’t dwell on your haters

Don’t dwell on your haters.  It’s the fourth in a series of traits for successful people in the secular world that we’re going to look at.  However, we’re going to see how these same traits can be applied to becoming a “successful” Christian.  Someone who not only has an idea what Christianity is really about, but who also lives it.  Finally, who also does the Great Commission and not what Dallas Willard calls the Great Omission.

Don’t settle for less, #04: Don't dwell on your haters is article #6 in the series: Settling for less. Click button to view titles for entire series

don't dwell on your hatersWith that in mind, here’s the fourth, from 23 Things Successful People Never Do on Don’t dwell on your haters 

Everyone’s a critic. Sometimes it’s helpful to know what your haters are saying about you, but you don’t want to let them plant seeds of self-doubt in your mind, and you definitely don’t want to internalize their critical voices. It’s easy to become so focused on proving the haters wrong that you forget what you wanted to do in the first place. So the best solution is to tune them out.

“Successful people know they’re doing amazing things with their life, and continue to focus on their dreams and goals,” says Lindsey Dinneen, a success, wellness, and lifestyle coach at Life, But Better. “View your opposition as supporters in disguise, because they wouldn’t hate or compete with you if you weren’t ‘worthy’ of their notice.”

Before I get into the quote above, I want to point something out regarding the image I chose for this one.  It’s a dove.  You know – the symbol for the Holy Spirit.  But look closely.  Zoom in if you can.  You’ll see that it’s actually made up of knives, assault weapons, rifles, hand grenades, pistols, bullets, rockets, and tanks.  I chose that because it’s indicative of what we need to do as Christians.  Take those things aimed at us, and give them to God.  In Christian-speak, lift them up to the LORD.

There is, of course, a right way and a wrong way to do that.  Giving them to God and then proceeding to reverse their course and return them to the sender is the wrong way.  Worrying about them is also the wrong way.  Letting God take care of them – that’s the right way.  I’m not going to go into more detail on that thought here.  However, you can read about it in The problem of “handing it over to God”.

Don’t dwell on your haters – does that mean tune them out, or know something about them?

I feel like there’s a disconnect in what is saying on this one.  Notice these three statements:

  1. Sometimes it’s helpful to know what your haters are saying about you
  2. The best solution is to tune them out
  3. View your opposition as supporters in disguise

If you were taking one of those tests where you identify the statement that doesn’t belong with the others, you’d say #2, wouldn’t you?  If you tune out your haters, how can you know what they’re saying about you?  You can’t.  And how can you view them as supporters in disguise if you tune them out?  Again, you can’t.  And since I think #1 and #3 are the best choices, I’m going to discard the second one.  That’s true for the secular world. 

But maybe even more so for us as Christians.  And that’s what I’m going to focus on here.  Why it’s so important that we actually do pay attention to the haters.  For our sake.  And for theirs.

Don’t dwell on your haters – but do spend time with them

Huh?  Spend time with them?  Even in the secular world, there a saying that some people go by.  Keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer.  But that’s to protect yourself from them.  As a Christian, there’s a different reason for spending time with our enemies.  Remember the kinds of things Jesus did in that regard?

The Calling of Matthew – Matthew

9:9-13 pp — Mk 2:14-17; Lk 5:27-32

Mt 9:9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

Mt 9:10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”

Mt 9:12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

It’s important to realize that the “sinners” Jesus referred to are enemies of God.  The actual Greek word from the text means pretty much what you’d expect.  However, the root from which that word was derived tells us what’s going on.  Here it is:

264 ἁμαρτάνω [hamartano /ham·ar·tan·o/] v. Perhaps from 1 (as a negative particle) and the base of 3313; TDNT 1:267; TDNTA 44; GK 279; 43 occurrences; AV translates as “sin” 38 times, “trespass” three times, “offend” once, and “for your faults” once. 1 to be without a share in. 2 to miss the mark. 3 to err, be mistaken. 4 to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong. 5 to wander from the law of God, violate God’s law, sin.  [1]Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

The key, of course, is to wander from the law of God, violate God’s law, sin.  In the parable, Jesus talks about the righteous and the sinners.  Although He appears to say that righteous people exist, just like sinners do, that’s not the case.  We see that in the parable below.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Lk 18:9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

Lk 18:13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

Lk 18:14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The self-righteous people are, in fact, not righteous in God’s eyes.  And so, what Jesus is really saying is that He came for those who know they are sinners.  He came for those who know they are enemies of God.

That’s important to realize, because Jesus said this about people who will become His followers.  And about His haters.

The World Hates the Disciples

Jn 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’

Jn 15:26 “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

Jn 16:1 “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.”

Yes – for a Christian, those who hate us because we’re Christian do so because they hate Jesus.  They hate God.

And we need to realize that so that you (we) will not go astray.

But then, even beyond that, we are to love even those who hate us.  So it’s not only a case of not wandering away from Jesus because of those who hate us, but to love them as well.  All while staying on our walk with Jesus.

Love for Enemies – Luke

6:29, 30 pp — Mt 5:39-42

Lk 6:27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Lk 6:32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

It gets hard, doesn’t it?  Love them.  But don’t let them lead us astray.  And all the while, they hate Christians because we’re on different paths.  That’s not something we can deal with on our own.  

While it’s important to know what those who hate us are saying, it’s not like we can just look at them as supporters in disguise.  It’s not a case of patting ourselves on the back because they don’t like us.  Neither is it like we can be more successful and put them out of business.  Or buy them out.  Secular world options don’t cut it.  Because we’re supposed to do this:

The Great Commission

Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said,All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Yeah – we’re supposed to make disciples of them.  Not on our own.  With Jesus, who will be with you (us) always, to the very end of the age.

I remember one time at work, I was supposed to combine my existing group and another one into one unit.  The goal was to get them to work together.  But also to elevate the standards of the other one to match what we were already doing.  The way my boss put it to me was – it’s not a merger, it’s a takeover.  That’s the secular world.  Fortunately, it was accomplished with no casualties.  No one lost their job because they refused to take the new approach.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way it’s going to work with those who hate Jesus.  It’s not easy.  It’s impossible without God’s assistance.  Strength.  Power.

If we tune out the enemies of God, we’re never going to even begin to do the Great Commission.  It’s just not possible.  We’ll never have contact with them.

We have to pay attention to what they say.  Yes, the Holy Spirit is needed to do the Great Commission.  However, if we don’t even know what they’re saying, nothing’s going to happen either.  We’re not puppets of God.  We’re His representatives on this earth.  We have something to bring to the process.  Otherwise, again – nothing happens.

Having said that, there’s one piece of good advice just before the “tune them out” that I’m skipping over.  you don’t want to let them plant seeds of self-doubt in your mind, and you definitely don’t want to internalize their critical voices. It’s easy to become so focused on proving the haters wrong that you forget what you wanted to do in the first place.  Just like everything else about the Great Commission, this also requires the Holy Spirit.  As Jesus said, we do not want to let them lead us astray.

Conclusion – Don’t dwell on your haters

No one ever said the Christian life was going to be easy.  Well, let me rephrase that.  Jesus never said it would be easy.  In fact, He said quite the opposite.

The Disciples’ Grief Will Turn to Joy

Jn 16:17 Some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”

Jn 16:19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

Jn 16:25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

Jn 16:29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”

Jn 16:31 “You believe at last!”Jesus answered. 32 “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

Jn 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.

No – that doesn’t sound like an easy life.

In this world you will have trouble.

Neither does that.

And yet, look what surrounds that last sentence:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

So yes – if you’re Christian, pay attention to your enemies.  To God’s enemies.  After all, they are why we’re here.  

But not too much.  Don’t be swayed by them.  Don’t get off the path because of them.

And yes, be sure to keep Jesus at the center of everything we do.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay


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