PSALM 35:11-16: “Malicious witnesses testify against me. They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about. They repay me evil for good. I am sick with despair. Yet when they were ill, I grieved for them. I denied myself by fasting for them, but my prayers returned unanswered. I was sad, as though they were my friends or family, as if I were grieving for my own mother. But they are glad now that I am in trouble; they gleefully join together against me. I am attacked by people I don’t even know; they slander me constantly. They mock me and call me names; they snarl at me.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Have you ever been falsely accused? Has anyone ever called you intolerant, racist, judgmental, or unloving? Have you been ridiculed for your beliefs? In this culture, these can be a regular occurrence if we boldly proclaim what we believe. When this happens, how do I respond?
What is my attitude toward those who have falsely accused me?
This is not a hypothetical musing for me. Over the past several years I have been accused of all the above simply for sharing my faith or using God’s Word to comment on the cultural shifts in our nation. On social media, I have been attacked, unfollowed, and unfriended by both family members and friends. In all of this, I needed to guard my heart. How would I respond?
Now, someone casually reading this may think – “Boy, you must really be a jerk and not even know it!” To be honest, I have wondered about this at times. Am I really a jerk? Am I the things I have been called? In every case, I have asked the Lord to search and know my heart. I am willing to repent to God and others if I have truly done something insensitive.
Yet, I am not willing to repent for speaking the truth in love.
Let me share one example. I connected with a friend on Facebook whom I knew from grade school. We were good friends during this time. We use to stay over at each other’s house, go on long bike ride adventures, and we were good friends. I was excited to reconnect with him after so many years. Then it started to happen. I was not even in conversation with this friend. He was simply reading my posts. like what I am currently writing, and he began to attack me for my narrow-minded views.
I would always try to lovingly share my beliefs with him. We were both raised in the church and the grade school we went to was a parochial school. Yet, something had happened over the years. This once close friend saw the Bible as an enemy. And, by association, my proclamation of Biblical truths made me an enemy. The attacks kept coming and I kept trying to share my faith until – without notice, he defriended me.
When this happened I had a choice to make in my heart. How would I feel toward this friend? How would I allow this experience to affect my heart? How would I respond to others in the future? The words of this Psalm were a great comfort and encouragement to me during this time. I have kept its words close to my heart whenever I have experienced something like this.
- “Malicious witnesses testify against me. They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about. They repay me evil for good. I am sick with despair. Yet when they were ill, I grieved for them. I denied myself by fasting for them, but my prayers returned unanswered. I was sad, as though they were my friends or family as if I were grieving for my own mother.”
When we are attacked by others for sharing Jesus or proclaiming the truth in love, we have a choice to make. If we allow ourselves to take up an offense against this person – we lose! The very thing that we are responding against becomes that which infects us. Yet, if we return insult and attack with blessing and prayer we not only benefit the one who has attacked us by asking for God’s mercy in their life, but we also protect our hearts from being infected by anger and unforgiveness.
Jesus taught, in His Sermon on the Mount,
- “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 NLT
When we are being attacked by others for sharing our faith or the truth of God’s Word, our first natural response is to try and defend ourselves. If we take this route we are positioning our hearts to become hurt, angered, embittered, and filled with unforgiveness. Yet, if we do the opposite of our initial response, if we hear the words of the Psalmist, if we practice the teaching of Jesus, we can live in the fullness of His grace, mercy, and love. And, we can become God’s instrument of intercession to continue praying for the salvation and healing of our friends and family!
An angry heart is not an interceding heart.
The enemy wants to keep us off our knees by enticing us to take on offenses. With the advent of social media, we are much more prone to this than ever before. God is calling me to humble myself and allow the Holy Spirit to heal me, empower me, and use me as an instrument of reconciliation and forgiveness. It is not always easy, and it is not always what I want to do, but it is the call of God for my life and the best thing I can do for others, my heart, and the Kingdom of God!
Lord, this morning I ask you to search and know my heart. If I have spoken a word in haste or with a lack of truth in love, please forgive me and cleanse me. Give me the grace to repent and be reconciled to those I may have offended. And, if I have been attacked by others for simply sharing Jesus or the truth of God’s Word, give me the grace to pray, forgive, and bless them – so that they may come to know Jesus and experience the freedom of His forgiveness and love!
Jesus – give me the heart of an intercessor!
In Jesus’ Name!
I once had a client that I did work for, and charged them exactly what I said I would. They fall into the category that “nothing can please them.” He and his wife began blowing up my phone with nasty text messages. I replied once, telling them I did what we both agreed upon, and then ignored and deleted all the future texts. Then a friend told me the wife was badmouthing me on Facebook, and did I want her to say something in my defense. I told her no, so she would not get sucked into their drama and have her phone blown up with nasty messages, and that I was relying on God to be my Defender. Six months later, as I’m driving into town, I glanced over to where this couple’s business was, and the building was vacant. I heard they left town! God’s Word proves true, you do reap what you sow! And I lost no sleep over it!