LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Christians should choose love rather than discouragement when mean-spirited people criticize them, David Dykes, pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, told students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“Brothers and sisters, you’re going to encounter some mean people, even in the church today. But God has called us to show forth the fruit of the Spirit; God has called us to show forth his light and his love,” said Dykes, a two-time Southern Seminary alumnus.
Preaching from the 12th chapter of Romans, Dykes said true community fellowship engenders a proper attitude toward divisive people within the church.
Although it’s part of the fallen human nature to seek revenge, Christians should resist that impulse, he said. A sinful nature makes it instinctive to even the score, but Christianity offers a different way.
“Jesus turned ethics on its side when he said, ‘No, you treat people the way you want to be treated,’” Dykes said.
Peace in all interpersonal relationships is possible, but some people resist, he acknowledged, noting while believers should not assume they will be at peace with everyone, they should at least offer peace even to their enemies.
Christians should not make enemies because of their attitude toward other people, he said. “You may create enemies because of your position, but you should never create enemies because of your disposition.”
Noting the injunction in Romans 12:19 to “leave room for God’s wrath,” Dykes said Christians should allow God to do what he promised and repay evil for evil himself—not take on that responsibility themselves.
“Give God room to deal with the people that treat you harmfully and hatefully,” he said.
Sign up for our weekly email newsletter.
Christians are called to follow the instruction of 1 Peter 2, which calls believers to follow Jesus by enduring insults and criticisms without retaliating, he said. Like Christ, Christians should entrust themselves to the God who always judges justly.
Christians should treat their critics and enemies with the same grace and gentleness they received from God, he urged. A Christian can love others without being loved in return and overcome attacks with genuine forgiveness, he said.
“I’m here standing as a testimony that after 40 years of being a pastor, I’ve encountered a lot of mean people,” Dykes said. “But I’m still as happy as I’ve ever been serving the Lord in the ministry. Don’t let those mean people discourage you and slow you down. Continue to love the people and preach the word of God.”