Week 5, Day 4

Responding to Slander

After thirty years of ministry, I’ve accepted the painful reality that any public occupation comes with criticism - some of it justified, some of it not. It should come as no surprise as Jesus loved the world with a perfect love and was rejected, betrayed, persecuted, and even put to death.

This week we have been following Joseph during his YEARS in prison as a result of slander. He was falsely accused of a wrongdoing and now must endure a punishment he didn’t deserve.

I have personally felt the blow of many painful attacks through the years. I can vividly remember the pain when faced with criticism for saying the wrong thing in a sermon, not acknowledging someone in a grocery store, not visiting someone who was sick in the hospital, having the “wrong” preaching style, etc. I have had people I considered friends for many years simply leave the church without a simple “thank you” or “good-bye”. These all hurt as I care deeply about the people of Heritage and our community and don’t want to hurt or disappoint anyone.

But every now and then an attack comes that pierces much deeper. I’ve endured awful things said about my wife and my children. I’ve been accused of saying or doing horrible things that were completely made up. In those times, I admit that I am tested. Everything in me wants to lash out, fight, and yes, even hurt back. It has caused me to dig deep into the life of Christ to see how He responded to lies and false accusations. I had hoped His example would give me a formula that I could simply copy and paste in my own life. However, God doesn’t give us formulas - He gives us His Spirit and asks us to allow Him to own our responses.

Here’s a little of what I’ve learned:
1. Sometimes we are to confront, keeping the issue as small as possible (Matthew 18:15-17)
2. Sometimes we are to ignore it and not let it throw us off course (1 Peter 2:12)
3. Sometimes we are to remain silent (Isaiah 53:7)
4. Sometimes we are to peacefully part ways (Acts 15:36-14)
5. And sometimes we are even to bless - yes, BLESS - those who are hurting us (1 Corinthians 4:11-13)

I’m not claiming to have arrived at the pinnacle of faith and suggest that I always respond appropriately to hurtful words. Instead, I just invite you to meditate on God’s Word and let His Spirit have His way in future situations. Easy? No way. Worth it? Absolutely.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
(Romans 12:18)

Reflection Questions

• Think back over situations when you were wronged and responded out of anger or pain. What were the consequences of an inappropriate response?

• Are you currently facing a situation that calls for one of the above responses? Take time right now to ask God what He would have you do.
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