“You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me” (Matt 5:11).
People are going to say bad things about you. They will!
Hopefully, the bad things they say will be false, and even better, will be due to your walk with the Lord Jesus. If that happens, it should be comforting to know that the Lord takes that kind of suffering seriously and pronounces you blessed because of it.
Now, I doubt that you’ll feel blessed. Instead, you’ll probably feel depressed, angry, demotivated, or bitter about what the gossipers are saying.
You might obsess over your injury, dream of retaliation, and ask what you could say or do to hurt that person right back.
But stop and ask yourself why you get so defensive and upset. You might think it’s because of the noble reason that people are telling lies, and you only want the truth to come out!
But what if the real reasons are that you’re preoccupied with yourself, can’t stand to have people think badly of you, and hate to be slandered all due to your pride? Yes, pride. The oldest sin in the book.
How, then, should a Christian react when getting badmouthed?
If people are speaking badly about you for good reason, then be quick to repent, apologize for what you’ve done wrong, and do your best to make amends.
But if people are speaking evil against you for how you’re faithfully following the Lord, then the thing to do is don’t worry about it. Accept it as a cross being applied to your self-life, one in which you can count as a joy (James 1:2-4) so you can learn to trust in Christ even more than before. François Fénelon (1651–1715) put it like this: “When God would have us die to self, He always touches the tenderest spot, that which is fullest of life. It is thus that He distributes crosses” (Letter 16). I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of tender spots!
So let yourself be humbled. Trust that God is in control and allowing this to happen for your good. Count yourself blessed that this is just another trial that He will use to help produce spiritual maturity in you (re-read James 1:2-4; Rom 5:3-5).
And as far as your accusers are concerned, remember that someone doesn’t have to be your friend for you to love them as a neighbor.
Send your questions or comments to Shawn.