Today we conclude the series on how to respond to lies and slander. This continues to be a topic that generates a large number of searches in the search engines on the internet. There must be a large number of people wanting to know how to respond biblically to such attacks, and for this I am thankful.
If this is your first visit on this topic, I suggest you go back a few days and catch parts 1 and 2. We will pick up today’s final installment where we left off yesterday.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.17Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, IWILL REPAY,” says the Lord. 20“BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:14-21 (NASB)
v 17 - Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. This is an imperative statement, meaning it is a command. Refusing to pay back evil for evil is at the heart of the Christian life! Our response to evil is display goodness to those who have afflicted us, for that is how our Savior responded.
Never means under no circumstances or at any time pay back evil for evil. In order to keep this command you 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 blessing them (v 14) into practice.
How can you bless them? Repay their evil with kindness, go out of your way to speak a good word to them, see if there is a way you can be of help to them, or simply smile and greet them when you see them. Above all, pray for them! Pray that God would minister to them and convict them of their sin that they will be restored in their relationships with others.
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 but it is a fact of living in a fallen world.
Your pride is certainly affected when you think you are being denied the respect you believe you are due. Often this is because we have an inflated view of self and think people should respect us “because of who we are.” This is seen when a person thinks they deserve better than what they get, or when they think they are worthy of honor and it is denied. This is nothing more than pride and it 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; Rom. 12:3).
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.