“I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.”
— 1 Samuel 15:26
Rejection is a hard thing. Often we oversimplify it today, and the pain of it. And we also most often try to overcome it with pride. But the reality of rejection is that it always comes because of sin: either a person sinning and being rejected, or a person sinning by rejecting unjustly.
Quite often today we confuse one for the other. We either accept rejection from people who are doing so out of their pride, or we refuse right rejection out of our own pride. But one thing is similar in both instances, rejection is always tied to sin.
Today we think the function of rejection is the issue—a common error is to blame the function rather than the sin behind the misuse of the function. For indeed, the function of rejection can be gripped by sin and misused, just the same as any function, or member, or organ in ourselves can be gripped and misused for sin. Examples of this can be sex, rebuke, or law; each of these can be used for good or evil, and this is the same with rejection. If we look at rejection that is done by selfishness and conceit, we can see that the issue in this instance is sin, not the function. This teaches us that while rejection done from sin is wicked, rejection itself is not the wickedness. The ability to reject is something God created us with, and it was designed for righteous use.
While rejection done from sin is wicked, rejection itself is not the wickedness. The ability to reject is something God created us with, and it was designed for righteous use.
When fallen man sees a function in themselves to be either broken or misused, man will grasp this function and will either make an idol of it, or try to entirely remove the function altogether.
We make idols out of them when we take one function and separate it from the other right functions God created us with. It is easy for us to become overly enamored with one aspect, rather than rightly balanced in all of them. So for example, we might see that we have need to grow in the area of compassion, and so we become very passionate about it, but we do not keep an equal priority on obedience, repentance, evangelism, etc. Or we’re passionate about doctrine, but do not keep an equal priority on prayer, walking by the Spirit, and love. An idol is something, even within our nature or within scripture, that we take and lift above everything else. The thing we are usually making into an idol is something valuable, yet we set it to be the only thing of value. When man discovers a function to be broken, this often illuminates to him the importance of this particular thing, but too often man will pour entirely into this one thing. We can see this every day in how people make their entire lives about one thing, and this is encouraged in the world! But we are not meant to do this, we are meant to be rightly balanced in all the things of God. Only by this are we truly walking in holiness, for holiness consists of all good things; we cannot possibly be holy if we take one truth to the exclusion of the other ninety-nine.
We remove a function when we are illuminated to the truth of harm coming in through the misuse of this function. But yet again, man makes many mistakes here. When we see the harm coming through this channel, rather than seeing the misuse of it, man will sever it altogether as an attempt to mend it. So for example, we can see how cruelly people can often “speak the truth”. We understand this is harmful and wrong, but instead of ensuring that we speak the truth in love and not in harshness, we will cease to speak the truth altogether out of fear of this harm. When we try to remove a function altogether, this is much like cutting off the function of eating in the name of world hunger, cutting off breathing in the name of global warming, or cutting off hygiene in the name of our overuse of water.
When we try to remove a function altogether, this is much like cutting off the function of eating in the name of world hunger, cutting off breathing in the name of global warming, or cutting off hygiene in the name of our overuse of water.
What we must first understand is that even though man can recognize a problem going on, he is still entirely at a loss for how to remedy the problem. Because the reality is that man is incapable of bringing things into right balance. He will either idolize or sever what is broken; he is entirely incapable of putting it into right use. God alone can do this. Man, left to himself, will always go too far in the other direction, and land in a different problem.
Today, rejection is not in danger of being idolized, but in danger of being severed. So we will talk about how this is happening, and how to correctly place it in our lives. We have begun, as with many other functions, trying to cut off this member with which we have been created, rather than—by God’s help and grace—putting it into its right place and use.
Rejection with People
Rejection always occurs where sin is present. It is either right rejection: choosing good over evil. Or it is wrong rejection, done from conceit and selfish ambition. God uses and teaches right rejection, man uses and teaches wrong rejection. Both come from the instances of sin, yet one is against sin and the other is for sin.
Today we are in need of right rejection. Both in ensuring that we reject evil, and ensuring that we do not receive sinful rejection as if it were godly. The balance of both of these align into oneness—the rejecting of sin. Either our own, or others’.
Today we are in need of right rejection. Both in ensuring that we reject evil, and ensuring that we do not receive sinful rejection as if it were godly.
As we begin, we must understand that all of us are accountable for our own actions, behavior, thoughts, and motives. We have to understand this first in order to find the right balance within all of this. If we do not accept the truth here, then we will be crippled in how to understand where rejection is biblical and where it is sinful. Only in accepting that we are all, individually, accountable for how we live our lives, will we be able to move forward in the truth, and out of confusion: “For each one should carry his own load.” (Gal 6:5)
The second thing we must understand is that we are only slaves to righteousness. And indeed, we are and must be slaves to this. But we must be slaves to this alone: “and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” (Rom 6:18) This means that we must ensure that we are entirely slaves to righteousness, yet equally ensure that we are never slaves to sin. What this shows us is that while we must not yield ourselves to our own sin, we must equally not yield ourselves for use to anyone else’s sin.
The reason both of these principles matter to point out is because we often misunderstand compassion. In our wrong ideas of compassion, we either sever from the truth that all people are accountable for their actions (thereby we either do not hold ourselves accountable for sin or others), or we seek to serve others, yet we do not ensure that our serving is not for service itself, but for the service of righteousness alone.
When we see both of these rules correctly this teaches us where we are accountable, and where we are set free. We are accountable (slaves) to ensure that we walk in all righteousness, and yet equally accountable (free) to reject all sin. This teaches us within rejection where we must either receive rebuke (godly rejection), or where we must put off sinful rejection since it comes from sin and not from godliness. And so, this also teaches us where we are right to reject and where we are wrong to reject. We are to reject anything that is of sin and rebellion against God, and we repent of any rejection we seek to walk in that comes from our own sinful nature, and where we are meant to receive others.
So in one instance this could mean receiving the words of a brother or sister in the Lord about where we are walking in sin. Yet in another instances, this could mean rejecting the words or actions of another, because those actions are done from their sin, pride, and rebellion against God. Circumstantially this can always look different, yet the root is always the same—rejecting sin and that which comes from sin. We reject our own sin, and we reject others’ sin.
There is only one type of rejection that should be severed from—and that is where a person rejects another because of their own conceit, pride, and rebellion.
Rejection must not be removed; it must be laid upon the right foundation of righteousness. In reality, there is only one type of rejection that should be severed from—and that is where a person rejects another because of their own conceit, pride, and rebellion. People often reject others because of their appearances, assumptions, and differences, and this is very wrong. This is where we must work against our own sin that does this, and where we must put off the sin of others who do this to us. But right rejection is rejecting sin: that which sins against others, and rebels against God and His commandments.
Rejection with God
When we come to God’s rejection, it is always because a person has rejected God. God rejects When we come to God’s rejection, it is always because a person has rejected God. God rejects those who reject Him: “The Lord is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.” (1 Chron 15:2) This teaches us two amazing truths.
There is great hope for anyone who turns to God. God will never reject a person who turns to Him.
The first is that there is great hope for anyone who turns to God. God will never reject a person who turns to Him: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37) What we must learn from this that there are no grounds on which God will reject us if we truly turn to Him. Unlike humans, who will reject another on such shallow, selfish, evil reasons, the Lord truly receives those who receive Him. This means for the Christian that we must never allow in an evil heart of unbelief, so as to fear that God will reject us when we are seeking Him, and seeking to be found in Him. The devil will try to bring these lies at us, and they have zero standing in the Word of God. Put simply, God’s rejection does not move first, but second. This means that God rejects no one, and yet He will reject those who do reject Him. This is incredible hope for all who desire God, who are afraid of the approaching wrath of God: that those who choose Him will not be found outside of Him because of any other reason (Deut 4:4).
This choosing must be true, and it must come through faith, obedience, and willing repentance. Yet, we never have to fear that some other reason or sin could ever separate us from Him. Only, we must understand that choosing God is doing so both in faith of His Word and in obedience to His word. We cannot fool ourselves and think that we are choosing God when we do not obey Him: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46) Jesus teaches us here in this verse that choosing Him means obedience to Him.
Second, we must see that God’s rejection stands on this basis; that those who reject Him will be rejected by Him (1 Sam 15:26, Deut 4:3). God’s rejection should cause all to fear who think they can reject God and yet expect to be accepted by Him (Deut 29:18-21). Though God gives sinners grace, time to repent and turn back to Him, God will still act when they refuse Him. What this teaches us is a great fear of God, and a great truth as to the right function of rejection. As God holds this action on an eternal scale, we can still learn from it and learn how to mirror it in our lives.
Though God gives sinners grace, time to repent and turn back to Him, God will still act when they refuse Him. What this teaches us is a great fear of God, and a great truth as to the right function of rejection.
What this teaches us is that rejection has zero place in the “first”, merely rejecting a person because of our biases, prejudices, conceit, or selfishness. But it does teach us that rejection can belong in the “second”, rejecting after actions of sin.
Christians often confuse this today. As we understand that we must have grace for others, must pray for others, forgive others, we often struggle to understand that biblical rejection still belongs in the midst of these things. That it is righteous to reject sin, and that it is righteous to reject those who choose to continue in sin.
What we must understand practically is that while we continue to love our enemies, do good to all, and pray for those who persecute us, there is also a right rejection that belongs where people have rebelled against God, and refuse His commandments. This is where right rejection belongs.
So for instance, a friend we have continues to choose their sin, and though they have been rebuked for it, and have been rebuked several times (Titus 3:10), or by several people (Matt 18:16-17), they refuse to turn from their harmful ways. This means that they have rejected the truth. They have rejected repentance, and they have rejected God. What this means from here, is that in light of their rejection, our rejection has its place. For this is rejecting sin, chosen sin, and not merely the rejection of a person on the basis of personal self-bias. This is the example that God gives to us, and we have every right to walk in it (Matt 18:15-17). God is not selective, cruel, or conceited. We have no right to reject on those basis. Yet God still rejects, and it is always on the basis of sin. So we called to reject sinful rejection, but keep righteous rejection.
God, in dealing with us, rejects our sin, our rebellion, and our own sinful rejection of each other. Yet we must be careful to not misunderstand God correcting us from a wicked self-bias, one in which we reject others in our conceit and selfishness, to then fall into the other wrong ditch of thinking we should not reject evil!
Understanding Right Judgement
What we must essentially understand at the center of all of this is that just as rejection is not to be completely thrown out, the same is true for judgement. Judgement is not wrong, misplaced judgement is what is wrong. The trouble today is that we have learned one truth without its counterbalance—we have learned that to judge others but not ourselves is hypocritical, and that to judge people as doing wrong simply because their circumstances are different is a great harm. And we are very right to learn these things. But we have begun to gather up everything labeled as “judgement” and throw it all all away, and because of this we no longer permit ourselves or others to judge rightly. When we or others seek to move in this necessary function, we whip ourselves as arrogant, loveless, and selfish. And wouldn’t you know it, that is exactly what the devil is after. We must learn that rejection, judgement, and justice have their right place and we must not get in the way of them.
It’s very important for us to learn rejection correctly. On one hand we have people rejecting from personal opinion, bias, and preference. We also have the damage and danger of people judging others as sinful who are just different or have different circumstances. This is the sin of making self the center rather than God. But on the other hand we have people who choose sin to the harm of others, and when these people seek to respond appropriately to the harm done to them they are further burdened under the accusations of being unloving, selfish, and unkind because they are biblically seeking separation from such people (Rom 16:17, Titus 3:10-11, 1 Cor 5:11-12). If you are one of the people standing in the way of this right rejection, then you are just as sinful as the first person, for you too are putting your thoughts and ideas at the center, rather than God’s.
How to Respond
In the matter of rejection we must stop being so quick to view it as a whole, either as something to sever from or to fully embrace. Like all things, we must discern within it what is of the Lord and holiness, and what is of sin, the flesh, and the devil.
The way that most people deal with rejection today is by merely putting themself at the center as “god” in their own life, and thereby casting off all rejection from themselves purely by the use of their pride. The Christian must cease in all ways from using self and pride as the means of maintaining their identity and truth! What madness in doing this, and yet so many Christians still do. But as we face this madness let us be very careful to not be deceived by the devil into thereby embracing all rejection.
To the natural eye, the reverse seems wise and “humble”, but to the spiritual eye, it’s actually quite foolish. To merely embrace all rejection is to deny two very basic truths:
1) That man is evil and we should only trust what is of God’s grace in man. To trust man as a general rule actually contradicts the warnings of Scripture (Micah 7:4-5, John 2:24-25). Rather, we are only looking for what God has to say about us. The correct remedy we need here is to listen to the Word of God. Listen to Christ-centered teachers and their rebukes, listen to the Word, but don’t just go out and listen to any random person’s “rebuke” of you. That is actually very dangerous and foolish, not “humble”.
2) That the devil has an agenda. Many imagine the devil only wants to trick us into the sins of lust or anger, and don’t correctly understand that our enemy is equally happy to trick us into believing lies about ourselves and bringing us into utter confusion and despair. We don’t get to pick and choose who our enemies are or how they choose to operate; our job is to be prepared for all the ways the enemy will try to attack us.
The Christian must learn to stop rejecting all rejection using the self as deflection and choosing to believe whatever they wish. But the Christian must also be careful to not begin simply embracing rejection as some new rule. We must discern within rejection what is of God and what is not.
If we have been rejected by people, is it because of our sin? Or is it because of their sin? Is it both? Don’t be generous in your answer here—we can seek to be generous with many things, but we should never seek to be generous with the facts if we want truth. Truth simply is, and it must be pure or we cannot rightly discern it. Was it because of your sin? No? Then cast it off. Yes? Then face that sin. Was it because of their sin? Yes? Then rebuke them, or at the very least speak it in God’s ear if you can’t to them. No, it wasn’t because of their sin? Then see where you’re creating division or rebellion and repent.
We need to rightly discern how rejection is being used, not cut off its member in us. Christians are landing too far in the other ditch today. They see the wickedness of sinful rejection and hypocrisy, and are casting rejection off altogether. But we must remember that sinful rejection is evil, and righteous rejection is rejecting the sin of those who have rejected God and holiness, goodness, and the truth. We should not shrink back from this. And if we’ve experienced this rejection, then let us see that God does not and will no longer reject those who repent and receive Him in submission (2 Chron 7:14).
May the Lord help all of us to know Him and to walk in the truth.