by Angela Royse Pelleman
The bible tells us we shouldn’t be concerned when others gossip about us. When others slander us behind our backs, telling lies, it’s so good to know that God has our back! We can trust in Him completely, because He is Truth, and it will eventually come out. Those who belong to the Lord don’t have to be discouraged, because when people slander you for walking in truth, you will be set free. The bible says you will be blessed for it. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12 New American Standard).
One day, I sat down specifically looking for bible verses that prove God protects us from slanderous lies. Immediately, I discovered an email from a spiritual sister who does prayer drawings each day. She draws, while praying, and then writes her devotion based on the image God has provided. I opened my email that day to find the perfect verse sitting in front of me: “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord, you God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you’ ” (Isaiah 41: 11-13 New International Version).
My spiritual sister had been given a drawing of a jester; her devotion was about fools, and how we are not to contend with them. God has a sense of humor, and confirmed His message, when a co-worker showed up at her door in a silly jester hat she had just made. Bells and all, she modeled it from the doorway, as my spiritual sister finalized her devotion! My sister had even prayed her message would reach “someone specific” that day, and that it would be verified. I was that “someone specific”. The devotion’s message contained a warning; contending with foolish people robs us of our peace. God wants us to have peace. I’m so excited about the freedom that this brings! This knowledge takes all kinds of stress off my plate! It means I don’t have to do anything at all, except to trust in my Father God to take care of it for me.
If you are anything like me, your first reaction to gossip, lies, and slander, is to defend yourself. I used to jump to this immediately. “Lie about me? I’m going to set you straight! I’m going to email you right back and tell you like it really is. Then, I’m going to call all my friends and family members and tell them what you just did to me, and make sure they know the truth! How could you do this? It needs to be fixed…right now!” No, it doesn’t. Yes, your name is out there. Yes they are talking about you. Lies are told, and your name is being slandered. The bible itself says, “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28).
Perhaps God is allowing this trial, because someone along the way needs to learn a simple lesson: If someone is gossiping to you, then they are gossiping about you. Everyone gets hurt at some point, and we are all blind until God opens our eyes. Perhaps healing is needed in someone else’s life, and God has given you the strength to handle it. Perhaps you need growth in this area yourself. Sometimes a few hearts get broken along the way. God offers a wealth of advice and warnings throughout the book of Proverbs, in order to help us avoid getting involved in some of these situations. When things are not our fault, we can take comfort in the fact that God will take care of it at just the right time.
You can get all worked up about it, and lose sleep over losing friends, or you can turn it all over to the Lord, and let Him take care of it all in His perfect timing. It may be that He’s filtering out “friends” who do not know how valuable you are to God, or “friends” that are unhealthy for you. Perhaps some of these people are not your “friends” at all. God may be doing His work through some of these people and you, to accomplish a higher purpose for His glory. He will not leave you behind while doing this. He will lavish you with blessings.
Jesus was insulted, spat upon, beaten, and ultimately killed. He did not deserve it, but he accepted God’s will, because he knew it would give us a chance to be saved. He loved us that much. Can we do the same? Even though people sinned and treated him terribly, he overlooked his mistreatment, and still loved, healed and prayed for all sinners. That means you and me. “And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments” (Luke 23:34 English Standard Version).
When you are slandered, follow God. God gives boundaries. Boundaries protect our well -being. We should pray for people who hurt us, and love them in a Christ-like manner, but we do not have to accept or tolerate behavior that is bad or abusive. “Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul” (Proverbs 22:24-25 New Living Translation). People who lie and gossip are angry. Get away from them, before you become trapped in their webs. “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard, or swindler. Do not even eat with such people” (1 Corinthians 5:11). It’s clear that it is acceptable not to communicate with people who slander you. This is not unforgiveness. In fact, it is obedience to God, and He will protect you and bless you for it.
Jesus also used silence as a boundary. He knew that his Father, God, would take care of him: “Then Pilate asked him, ‘Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.’ But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed” (Mark 15: 4-5 NIV). You are not obligated to answer questions involving slander. It gives you more free time, and it is liberating for your spirit when you realize you don’t have to do anything at all, except leave it to God! The bible says so! “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:14 ESV). I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty good deal to me! “You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you” (Psalms 50: 20-21 ESV). Jesus knows all about it. That’s because he went through it too.
God gives many opportunities for people to ask forgiveness for sin and to truly repent. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful ad effective” (James 5:16 NIV). The bible gives clear instructions on how the church is to deal with unrepentant hearts. The book of Matthew, chapter 18, clearly outlines what should be done. Until then, boundaries must remain in place.
When there is true repentance for slander, lies, and gossip, there comes a change within a person, a desire to be more like Jesus. It is possible for a person to change, and turn her life around. Until God shows you without a doubt, that a person has repented of slanderous behavior and is now living life with a true, Godly change of heart, as difficult as it may be, do not remove the boundary. “Do not move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set” (Proverbs 22:28 NAS). Take comfort in the fact that God is the ultimate boundary, and He’s in charge. All we have to do is follow Him.
© 2014 Angela Royse Pelleman – The Silver Lining