Have you ever been rolling along just fine through life and thinking that all was well when you suddenly get blindsided? Recently, I was given the assignment of learning how to respond righteously to lies and slander despite the desires of the sinful flesh.
The particulars of any given situation are not as important as the point of this posting is to help you to learn how to properly respond to lies and slander when you are confronted by them and to deal with the resulting confusion, hurt, and anger.
This is the setting: People from the past re-emerge and they want something, but not from you. They want something from your children who are adults and want nothing to do with these individuals and tell them so. And so it begins…
What you learn very quickly is:
Rule #1 about people is that we don’t like to be told “no.”
Rule #2 - We want what we want and usually are willing to go to great lengths to get it.
Rule #3 seems to be that if we cant get what we want the nice way we resort to any means possible. This is evident by the fact that there are robberies, murders, and rapes in society. (Jas. 4:2)
Rule #4 – Some people are just mean and ornery because they do not know Christ. We cannot expect an unbeliever to act like a believer! They are acting out of their nature. (John 8:44)
In this case the people who have been denied what they want begin to attack, and the person they attack is you! They drag up every bad true thing they can remember, and then they add to the pile by inventing things, slandering your character, telling bald faced lies and spreading these things to people who are important to you. Your name is being dragged through the mud, your reputation assaulted and you are baffled by this whole thing.
The first question we always ask is “why.” Why would someone want to hurt you in this way? This is not a question to spend much time meditating on! When it involves an unbeliever any of the above 4 Rules will cover it, I am afraid. When it involves a believer and sadly enough it does happen, you have to remember that Rules 1-3 can still apply!
Our first response when we learn that lies are being told and we are being slandered is not usually righteous. Perhaps you have an angry tirade over the lies and slander that were said about you, and because you are very angry you sin in your anger. You may be surprised at the kind of venom you are spewing about the situation and be (foolishly) surprised at the strength of your flesh and the sinfulness of your heart even after all your years as a believer in Christ (pride!).
You discover that you are only adding to the sinfulness of this situation, take a deep breath or two and begin to repair the damage by thinking biblically about it.
First it helps to remember what Jesus said, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. John 15:20. Jesus was speaking about unbelievers, those of the world (John 15:18) He makes it clear that we should expect such treatment. We should expect to be hated.We are living lives that are not in synch with the rest of this world. We are the anti-type, the anomaly. Our morals and values are different than those of unbelievers and our priorities are those of the Lord.
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:11-12
Second, remember that we seek to please Him rather than ourselves (Col. 1:10). Oh! It is so very hard in those moments to push back against the flesh, when everything inside you screams to be let loose and reply in kind to the treatment you have received! The heart (thoughts, beliefs, emotions, desires) is full of all the wrong kinds of responses:
(“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.” Matthew 15:19) so following your heart is the wrong course of action!
If you want to glorify God in how you respond (1 Pet. 2:1) then you must look to Christ for the example.
For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 1 Peter 2:19-23
God has enabled you through the ministry of the Holy Spirit to bear the pain of unjust suffering. While it is a blow to the pride (which is also a good thing) to not retaliate it is the right response. You can choose to accept by faith that this trial is a part of God’s methods of growing and changing you, and that these things are also conforming you to the image and likeness of Christ.
We will continue this next time, if the Lord wills!