March 2, 2013

“The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.”  Proverbs 12:16

“You are going to have to grow some thicker skin.”

That is a saying that I have made to younger, discouraged, engineers on many occasions.  It was a statement that was made to me.  We usually receive this bit of wisdom after someone in our office has experienced a particularly harsh exposure to the public, delivered the bad news to a short-tempered contractor, or had to eat the fruit of a client’s bad day.

Unfortunately, rude and insulting people are not limited to the work environment.  The world seems to have an endless supply of rude and insulting people.  They are in stores, restaurants, automobiles, sporting venues, the internet, family trees, and the Church.  We have all clashed with that person.  If you have not, then you might be that person, which is a blog for another time.

“Thicker skin” is a universal need for everyone.

However, “thicker skin” is a misnomer.  It does not mean that if you have “thicker skin” you will not feel the intended sting of a particular insult.   “Thicker skin” means that we have the self-control to adapt, understand, and respond to the negative.

Just as we can get a bruise in our skin, we all can be bruised emotionally.  There are some who bruise easier than others.

Your day may be ruined mulling over the meaning of a snarky remark;

A nasty email may be pondered upon for weeks;

 A negative assessment may make you want to give up;

The critical opinion of one person may bankrupt your self-worth.

If you have ever felt anything like that, then you have been bruised emotionally.  Those are all examples of letting a bruise go too deep.  We all need to learn how to minimize the bruising.

The reality is that everyone knows when a “thin-skinned” person has been bruised because they let everyone know about it.  The Bible calls such a person a fool.  The fool is the person who immediately over-reacts to an insult and leaves a wake of destroyed relationships.  That is not the type of person we want to be.  We want to be the prudent person who has the ability to ignore an insult.

There are some who have developed the ability to ignore insults by not caring.  They don’t care what other people think about them so what they say doesn’t matter.  I have a difficult time squaring that attitude with the second greatest commandment.  I don’t know how I can “love my neighbor as myself” and not care about what they think of me.  We are to love people.

Others ignore insults by being so very confident in their own opinions that the negative opinions of others can simply be discarded.  The problem with that attitude is Proverbs 12:15, “The way of the fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

How can you ignore an insult without being unloving or arrogant?

“Thick-skin” is a fruit of the Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” Galatians 5:22

It is the Spirit that enables us to respond to rude and insulting people in the “prudent” manner.  It is a work of the Spirit in our lives to be able to love the snarky, to be patient with the aggressive, to be kind to the rude, to be gentle with the rough, to control ourselves when attacked.  Responding as Christ would respond is a gift from God.  It does not mean that we don’t feel the bruising but it means that our response is coming from God’s new creation within us.

I don’t have this down.  I do not demonstrate the fruit of “thick-skin” like I know I should.  Therefore, we need to be intentional about what we build into our lives that enhances our walking in the Spirit.

Know Where Your Worth Is

We need to keep the big picture in mind. Our worth lies in our relationship with God that comes through Jesus Christ. We can be called all sorts of things but that does not change how God sees us. It is when we start allowing people to assign our worth that we get bruised deeply. I do not seek my worth from any man. I am a wretched person. I know myself. My worth does not come from myself or other people. It is because of what Christ has done for me while I was yet a sinner that allows me not to be overly concerned with the detractors. Our worth is not of this world.

A Nurturing Core

We must not be a lone Christian.  We need other mature believers in our lives who love us and are there to support and encourage us.  These are not a group of “yes” men.  They are people who we know are for us and want the best for us.  They are persevering with us.  They are the ones who can tell us whether a criticism has merit or not.  They are advisors who can speak truth and wisdom into our lives.  The reality is that some of the insults that we receive may be true.  We need to have people in our lives who we know love us, agonize over potentially hurting us, and will still tell us the truth.  The wise person will have this core group.

Know Your Path

 We can so easily focus on the negative.  Our memories have an affinity for failures and stumbles.  We need to learn how to battle our own inner critic.  We need to preach to ourselves the faithfulness of our Lord.  We need to refresh our minds with the blessings that have been shown to us; those past victories and affirmations that our Lord has provided through us.  We need to treasure the assurances of our faith.  We are all imperfect and being sanctified.  We need to reassure ourselves of God working in our lives by acknowledging how far he has taken us.

Forgive Quickly and Completely

There are times when a bruise goes deep because it is simply piling onto a hurt that was never dealt with.  I have never found that time has helped me forgive.  The longer I wait the more opportunity there is for misunderstandings and bitterness.  The best medicine is forgiveness quickly applied.  Jesus forgave those who were crucifying him while He was being crucified.  Stephen forgave those who were stoning him while he was being stoned.  It is when we hold onto hurt and forgive partly, that we are quick to associate the negative and suddenly we are feeling something so much larger than the particular issue.

Know Yourself

We all need to be nourishing our souls and our bodies.  We need to know our spiritual well-being.  Since responding appropriately is a fruit of the Spirit, how are you doing in your walk with Lord?  If you have ground to a halt in your Bible reading, prayer life, worship, fellowship, then you are probably not going to be showing the fruit that you want.

We need to know our physical well-being.  Are you getting enough sleep, are you eating nutritious foods, are you exercising, are you sick?  We never respond well when we are worn down physically.

We need to know our personalities.  If you are not a quick thinker, then don’t put yourself into a debate.  If you have a tendency to be blunt, then don’t put yourself into a situation that requires an immediate response (sleep on it before shooting off that email).  If a particular person has a way of bruising you deeply, then position yourself so that they don’t have a clean shot at you.

This life is full of rude and insulting people who have the ability to bruise us.  It is inevitable that we will be bruised while we are out being faithful to the second greatest commandment – loving our neighbors as ourselves.  We will take some shots.

However, those bruises will not go deep enough to really hurt if we are walking in the Spirit, have the fruit of the  Spirit, and are wise about the paths that we take.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for those times where I have not responded as I should.  Forgive me for all of those time where I have allowed myself to be discouraged by an unkind or insensitive word.  Lord, I know that my worth is found in You.  I know that You love me.  I know that You are doing wonderful and good things through this life that I am in.  Lord, please continue your work of sanctification in my life.  Lord, I pray that all the fruit of your Spirit will be evident in my life.  Give me the “thick-skin” of  a child of God who is filled by your Spirit.     Amen


  1. I wrote a post on forgiveness and it’s importance in our lives. The web address is here: http://robinclaire.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/rustys-accident-forgiveness-2-2/
    I believe that there are several very important things we must learn, and that learning how to forgive fully and completely, is one of them. It’s a long post, I know, but you might find it interesting. [ps – this is not a plug for my blog. I just thought it was appro-po]
    love to you,

  2. […] “THICK SKIN – FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT” – Mar. 2 (boyslumber.wordpress.com) […]

  3. Let’s see…What if each fruit of the Spirit had a thick skin? What would that look like? Thick-skinned love would look like 1 Corinthians 13. Thick-skinned joy could rejoice in the midst of difficult people (Philippians 4:4). Thick-skinned peace would react with holiness (Hebrews 12:14). You get the idea– the concept presents quite a challenge! The Spirit and I have more work to do…

    P.S. Thank you for stopping by my blog. I’m so glad you enjoyed “The Little Apple Tree!”

  4. […] “THICK SKIN – FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT” – Mar. 2 (boyslumber.wordpress.com) […]

  5. Reblogged this on Mommy Meditations and commented:
    Absolutely had to reblog this great article by J.D. Blom. This is a topic I’ve wanted to write about for a while, but he nailed it so well, I’ve decided to just share this great devotional author’s take on the subject. If you enjoy this devotion. please check out his blog A Devoted Life http://www.boyslumber.wordpress.com

  6. Thanks for this post. I tend to be very critical of myself and find it hard to forget other people’s unkind words, so this was a good reminder to “keep my eyes on the prize.”

    • I am so glad that it was encouraging.
      God Bless!

  7. Reblogged this on FyaLight and commented:
    Thanks for these humbling words. I have had much opportunity to get to know myself these last few months. I did not like what I found inside. I am learning to grow and walk without stumbling so often or so hard. Walking upright takes practice and is made easier by forgiveness. I want to not hurt anymore. I want to live in the fruit of the spirit so I may control myself, forgive, be patient, have joy again that I have not seen for so long, be kind, live justly, be faithful and gentle, and show love in everything I do and say. To those who I have the pleasure of being close with and who have uplifted me in the past, even when I did not deserve it and acted as though I did not want it, thank you. I love you. You know who you are. If not, ask me and I will tell you 😉

  8. Mr. Blom, may I have your permission to reblog this at Mommy Meditations? So very good!

    • Thank you very much. Please feel free to reblog any that you care to.
      God Bless!

  9. I really needed to read this! I have that one person that just pushes my buttons…and I never know how to handle it. Thank you so much!

    • I am so glad that it was timely and helpful.
      God Bless!

  10. Thanks for this. It came right when I needed to hear it 🙂

    • You are very welcome; I am so happy that our Lord’s timing is perfect to give us what we need, when we need it.
      God Bless!

  11. Wonderful post. It was a timely word for me. Sometimes it helps to be reminded to love others even when they are acting unloveable.

    • I am so glad it was encouraging and timely. I have to be reminded of the “basics” on a regular basis.
      God Bless!

  12. This post really rang true with me. Every part. Thank you.

    I am reminded of a run-in I had with a loved one just the other day about our mother, who is very sick. On her death bed.

    An off-handed comment was made about our mother to an aunt of ours that stung me, not to mention how it stung my aunt. When I mentioned it in confidence to the offender, he just brushed it off in his usual style and blamed me for taking his offense too seriously. So characteristic of our relationship. He says something offensive “in jest”, and none of us is to take it personally.

    Of course, when I tried to stand up for my aunt, he attacked me rather than admit he was wrong or offensive.

    “If a particular person has a way of bruising you deeply, then position yourself so that they don’t have a clean shot at you.” I failed at this! I positioned myself perfectly, and he shot me clean through! Of course, I’d rather take a shot for my aunt than leave her defenseless. But it still hurt.

    I am NOT a quick thinker (not when it comes to retorts), I have been sick for two weeks, and we have been dealing with a hospitalized mother for 6 weeks…NOT a good time for me to take an attack from anybody. EXCEPT, when we are weak, the LORD is strong!

    Very quickly, I understood my main goal here was to quickly forgive the offender..the damage had been done. The offense had been committed. And there was no apology on the horizon. My only choice was to forgive.

    Lord knows, I needed thick skin. I needed to understand the truth, and find my strength in Him. When I know who I am, and Whose I am, then peace and rest follow inevitably. I thank God for that.

    I am well-loved by the Creator of the universe, and He stands for justice and truth. That is enough for me.

    • I am so glad this post was helpful. Thank you for your comments. I have prayed for you since you have just gone through this painful and unpleasant experience. May are Lord grant you the peace, mercy and grace to forgive.
      God Bless!

  13. Reblogged this on Gab & Graffiti and commented:
    Edible words.

  14. This is a brilliant and timely post. Very insightful! Thank you so much for sharing it!

    • You are welcome. Thanks for the encouragement.
      God Bless!

  15. Really good… Needed that too on top of the other sermon I posted on “Needing Approval”… http://Www.lisettedefoe.wordpress.com

  16. I love it that it comes down to Galations 5:22. It always straightens me out.

    • Amen

  17. Great post! I know I need a “thicker skin”, at least in the form of seeking first to understand the reason behind a perceived slight, the person’s state of mind for saying what seems insulting. This is good advice for self-evaluation and critique. What I don’t understand are fellow Christians who willing throw around bigoted words and when asked to re-consider, they say “oh, get a thick skin! Stop being P.C.!” I try to balance this by being “insensitive” about what others say and “sensitive” to what they feel.

    • I think that there are a lot of our fellow brothers and sisters that need to grow in their understanding of what it means to love others. The attitude of throwing out insensitive words and letting other people just deal with it is a very immature and callous believer or not a believer at all. We can be absolutely correct in what we say but if we say it without love then we should keep our mouths shut. I think we all would benefit if that was a universal principle that people followed..

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