Hopefully, you have never been in this situation and will never find yourself there. But sadly, many of us have. So what should you do when someone bad-mouths you?
The answer is the easiest, yet most difficult thing you will ever do. You only need to do the following things. Are you ready?
This is the best thing to do in every situation. Pray as if your life depends on it, because in reality, most of the time, it does. Your relationship with the Lord will determine how you handle the rest of this situation. At times, you will want to lash out at the person bad-mouthing you. Resist that temptation. Instead, pray for that person(s).
Yes, praying for the person bad-mouthing you can be difficult. But it is definitely something that must be done. If nothing else, it will soften your heart for that person, and you will be able to face them with grace instead of venom.
2. Let God fight your battle.
I say it’s easy, but it is the hardest thing you will do. You will be tempted to correct the gossip you hear about yourself. Don’t be tempted to defend yourself. God will send others to do that (even without you inciting them.)
Some years ago, I was going through a major ordeal. I heard all this incorrect information about myself, some of which even made me laugh out loud because it was so outlandish. After months of trying to resolve it personally, I sat through a meeting designed to talk through the issues. Instead, it turned into something completely different. Two of the people spreading untruths used the meeting to attack me with these untruths rather than trying to resolve the issues at hand. At this time, I fully understood the following verse…
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14
In that moment, I understood more than ever before that there was nothing I could have said to change their minds about me. So if I could not change their minds, why engage them?
Why not let God work in ways that I cannot?
For two hours I sat there, listening and praying that I would keep my big mouth shut. (Because let’s just be honest here, I do not shy away from conflict.) Thankfully, a friend was praying over me at the exact same time. God was able to keep my mouth shut just like he did the lions’ mouths when Daniel was in their den.
On a side note: I am not saying that you should not try to work out misunderstandings and wrongs. Of course, we should always try to reconcile our differences. Matthew 18 instructs us to do so, but sometimes we must deal with people who do not want to resolve issues. They just want to stir up problems, manipulate the situation, and cause divisions. This is what I faced, and I realized this after trying to resolve the issues one-on-one several times.
3. Follow Christ’s example.
This goes back to #2 and is the perfect illustration of how to accept malicious words. When Christ was falsely accused and put on trial, he was humble and strong. Some believe He was solely keeping quiet so that he would be sent to the cross, but I believe it was more than that. I believe He was setting an example for us, knowing that his followers would face slander and similar situations as well.
There is a time to speak out and be bold. But, unless I overlooked some verses–which is possible so feel free to correct me–what I read about Christ, his disciples and apostles speaking out boldly is that it was for God and others…rarely for themselves. We are commanded to speak out for others and defend the faith.
Paul “boasted about” himself in a way in 2 Corinthians 11, but goes on to say this is utter foolishness.
We are commanded to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves:
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.
4. Realize it’s a blessing.
What? How can we even contemplate that being bad-mouthed is a blessing? We can! And we should believe this to be true because the Bible tells us so. When we are holding steadfast to God and His truth, letting Him guide us through crazy situations, we may very well find ourselves in the slander spotlight. When this happens, trust these verses…
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. – Matthew 5:11
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. – 1 Peter 3:13-17
Our faith grows when we watch God work it all out and see Him get all the glory for all He has done! What a blessing!
5. Believe the truth will come to light.
Again, if you are going through this I am very sorry. It is not a fun situation and can be distressing. Just lean into Jesus. He above all completely understands. In the end, whether on Earth or in heaven, the truth will all come to light.
In the situation I mentioned above, a few years after that horrific two-hour ordeal, I received a letter from one of the two people involved. That person expressed complete sorrow for having said what was said and asked for forgiveness. It was one of the most memorable experiences I have had and I was very thankful, that even though it took years, the truth became evident because God was working it all out. Because of all this, relationships began to be mended where division had once resided.
He will fight for you! You can trust that!
My prayer for you:
Lord, you are beyond amazing. You work in our lives in ways we could never dream. You use what we feel are the worst of situations to bring about good and resolve situations that might have otherwise gone unresolved. We thank you for always working behind the scenes, calming our hearts, and giving us the Holy Spirit to guide us through such difficult circumstances. We specifically lift up all those who are being bad-mouthed and slandered right now. Give them your peace, which surpasses understanding, and the courage to let you fight for them. In the One who let you fight for Him so that we could be redeemed to you – Amen!