The loved one of a dear friend recently experienced what might be called slanderous ridicule and abuse by another professing believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. The matter has been addressed, but so far to no avail.
These events and the concerns of the parties involved have led me to consider the Biblical teaching regarding "corrupt communication" that tears down rather than edifies (Ephesians 4:29). How do we respond, think, believe, speak, and act when slandered, ridiculed, and verbally abused? We will consider this vital matter in several messages over the next few days, seeking the light of God and His truth that illuminates the spiritual journey we must travel upon this difficult path.
Every spiritual truth, issue, experience, and response must begin with consideration of the Author of our faith. Regarding verbal assaults by others, what do we know about the Lord Jesus Christ?
"What glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take patiently? But if, when ye do well and suffer of it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps, who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth, who, when He was reviled, reviled not again. When He suffered, He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously" (I Peter 2:20-23).
The Lord Jesus knows slander. He knows ridicule. He knows unjust verbal abuse. He knows. Moreover, He experienced the pains and wounds such words inflict upon our hearts. "My soul is among lions, and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword" (Psalm 57:4). Our blessed Lord felt the feelings we feel when verbally attacked. Being "full of compassion", He also shares our experience when we feel the points of spears and arrows that pierce us with wicked words, and the slashing edge of the sharp sword of slander that draws blood from deep within our souls (Psalm 86:15). We thus begin by seeking His solace and comfort, and by following in the footsteps of He who "committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously." "O Lord, Thou art my God… Thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in His distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall" (Isaiah 25:1; 4).
Trouble, pain, loss, sorrow, and difficulty, in whatever their form and measure, offer to us the opportunity to know the Lord Jesus in ways that pleasure does not provide. This truth does not blunt the point of the spear or dull the edge of the sword. Cruel words hurt us, no less than they hurt our Savior. They do, however, provide opportunity to seek our Lord and His comfort in a manner that identifies us with the Lord Jesus. God does not determine cruel verbal abuse. He does, however, offer to the trusting heart a view of the Lord Jesus upon which we cannot gaze until we have known at least a portion of the arrows and swords He knew. Thus, we begin our response to the sin of others by looking to the salvation of the Savior. He fully knows the pain inflicted by verbal derision, in whatever form, and He can do something about it. He can comfort our hearts, and then pave a path of opportunity to know and glorify Him that would never have existed apart from the difficult challenge. This is God's present way in our lives. Challenge provides opportunity. Here we begin our response to cruel words, by "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). Such a gaze of faith will not disappoint us as verbal abuse leads to victorious availing of Christ and His glory.
"Unto the upright, there ariseth light in the darkness. He is gracious and full of compassion, and righteous."
"The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough of the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?"
Weekly Memory Verse
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
(I Corinthians 15:58)