The important question you must ask yourself is this: “How can I respond in a way that glorifies God?”
Your natural man will want to reply in anger, do the words you want to say glorify God? (Prov. 4:24; Prov. 19:1; Ecc. 5:6;
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Ephesians 4:29-31
We are specifically told not to use foul speech in this verse. “Unwholesome” is a nice way of saying “trash”, “garbage.” Paul is telling us not to talk trash to one another or about one another because to give in and indulge the flesh will grieve the Holy Spirit! It grieves Him because we are tearing down someone God has created and who may even be a fellow believer (Jas. 3:8-9), and because Jesus has enabled us to respond righteously by His death and resurrection and we have chosen to ignore that precious gift! (1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Cor. 2:9:8)
We are told to put bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and slander away from us. The temptation to participate in all these behaviors is very strong when a person is being lied about and slandered. But if we want to glorify God in our response we must deny the desires of the heart and obey God.
Your flesh will want revenge! Does avenging yourself glorify God? (Rom. 12:19)
No, of course it does not. To glorify God we must do the hard things in Romans 12
V 14 - Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. It is difficult to pray for those who curse you! It is difficult to bless them with kind words and actions. And yet, it is what we are called to do.
V 17 - Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. This is the heart of the Christian life! Our response to evil is to be goodness for that is how our Savior responded. Never is a long time and a very definite command. To not pay back evil for evil we must refrain from slandering the person or people who have done it to you. You must not lie or gossip about them. You are to put V 14 into practice.
V 18 - If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. The hard truth is that despite your best efforts, you may never be at peace with all men because relationships are a two way street. In my assignment scenario (from the previous post) the person being slandered and lied about was really innocent and not even involved in the situation. We live in a very fallen world, and we are often dealing with unbelievers who do not want to be at peace with us. The “If possible” part simply means that we do our best in the situation to be like Christ.
When you have been attacked your pride may be deeply wounded. No one that I know of wants to be thought badly of by other people. Pride is affected when we think we are being denied the respect we believe we are due because of who we are, when we think we deserve better than what we get, or when we think we are worthy of honor and it is denied. Pride is wrongly labeled self-esteem by the modern psychological movement.
It is not a bad thing for your pride to be wounded. God is always in the business of removing pride from the human heart because He hates it! (1 Peter 5:5) Pride draws us away from God and when we get too much of it we seem to believe that we don’t have a need for God or His wisdom as much as when we have been taken down a few notches. (Gal. 6:3;
It is hard to hear people say horrible things to you and about you and while I am not for one moment promoting you place yourself in situations where you will be a verbal punching bag, I am saying that there will be times you must allow it to pass you by without response. (Phil. 2:3-4)
Reading Friends, all of this brings us back to the foot of the cross. Righteous responses like those we have looked at these past two blogs are impossible apart from the Holy Spirit. They are impossible unless we realize that the ground is level at the foot of the cross, and you and I are just as capable of the lies, gossip and slander that may have been thrown our way. We must look at our own heart and examine ourselves in the light of His Word and only by His grace determine to apply these truths to our lives that they will overflow into the lives of others.