What do you do when someone confronts you with untruths? Do you defend yourself? Are you simply silent? Do you believe them? Do you laugh it off? If you have the privilege to live long enough someone is bound not to like you. And it is likely that, if you live long enough, somebody will attack your character.
I’ve known people in the past that have character assassinations on a pretty regular basis. They are so grounded in who the Lord says they are. The attacks don’t phase them.
I grew up with a friend who thrived on daily drama. Seriously upset if she wasn’t the topic of conversation. She loved stirring the pot. She thrived on controversy.
I have another friend who has spent her whole life trying to make sure that everyone likes her. Her fear of being disliked is akin to my fear of the stomach bug. She subconsciously does everything in her power to assure no attack ever comes. To never ever have confrontation in her life. But good gracious she’s exhausted.
David Jeremiah once said:
“How we respond to problems in our life exposes our values, priorities, and especially our spiritual beliefs. Our goal in life shouldn’t be to eliminate problems–that will never happen. Rather, our goal should be to keep them in perspective and respond in a biblical fashion”.
I love this quote because it is truthful and it is easily applicable. If we respond from our emotions we most surely will rely on our feelings. If we respond based on God’s word we can rest in undeniable truth.
My mother in law gave me the smartest advice I’ve ever received. When we first moved back to my husbands home town, almost three decades ago, she lovingly advised :
“never talk about anyone unless it’s in the confines of your own four walls. Your home is your confessional between you, your husband, your children, and God. What is said inside your four walls is sacred and should remain there. Whatever opinions you or your family have that are unkind need to remain in the sanctuary”.
This is also the same lovely woman who told us “No matter how poor you are buy one piece of art or antique furniture that you love each year of your marriage. When you reach middle age your home will contain only things you love and lots of beautiful memories”. In other words, my mother in law is one wise woman.
My husband and I have followed her advice on suggestion #2. Unfortunately, through my late 20’s and probably early 30’s, I didn’t heed her #1 advice. I gossiped. Probably more than I’d care to admit or remember. I most probably hurt some precious people. And ultimately it hurt me. It was a painful lesson. It was a necessary lesson. Immaturity, insecurity in who I was, the need to feel liked, the need to appear more than, and the need to ward off confrontation were what drove my poor decisions. And boy did I pay the price!
Just as David Jeremiah stated we must respond to attacks and controversy from a biblical position. What does that mean? Hopefully you are bonded with friends with whom you no longer need to gossip and cause controversy. But in the event that you are accused of any kind of social wrong doing gossip, lying, etc. you must approach it from a biblical standpoint.
First and foremost you must be right with Jesus. You must repent of your sins. And I don’t mean throwing Him back up on that cross in the name of the law. I mean just as your children will come to you periodically “Mama, I really wasn’t at Jane’s I’m so sorry for lying please forgive me”. Likewise that does not mean you intentionally sin knowing that you will be forgiven.
If you obey Him you can rest in His peace in all of your decisions. Our goal as a sinful people is to let Jesus mold us into who He says we are. That involves sometimes being silent and sometimes it involves discussion. Jesus wants us to approach one another in humility and forgiveness. Matthew 18 is an incredibly powerful chapter on inclusiveness and reconciliation.
Tim McGraw’s song Live Like You Are Dying could truly have been an anthem for the church. If we live like we are dying? Well, we speak sweeter. We offer forgiveness where none is due. We literally die to our sinful nature in anticipation of our heavenly home. We acknowledge our past and present sins, conscientiously live in the here and now, and anticipate our heavenly future. We treat each other the way Jesus treats us, Amen?
“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.”-Matthew 18:15-16