What do you do when someone says something negative about you, publicly? It might be true, or it might not be true. It might be something that happened a long time ago. Regardless of the situation, someone – maybe another believer – discloses something about you for all to see. What do you do? Our initial response is to defend ourselves and argue with the one making the accusation, perhaps even justifiably. Nevertheless, seldom, if ever, does that scenario end well.
Most of us have experienced something like this at some point in our lives. When someone makes accusations or innuendos concerning us, it is a natural tendency to defend ourselves to the fullest. However, when you feel the need to vindicate yourself, consider what the Scripture has to say.
“Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret—it only causes harm. (Psalm 37:5-8:)
During my years of ministry, I have reread these words many times and have discovered that when I abandoned the need to defend myself, things usually turned out well. On the other hand, when I have succumbed to the need to defend myself and right the wrong, it has almost always brought more strife. If we are going to follow Messiah, then we must be willing to lay everything down, and that includes our reputation. Is this not what Messiah did? He was accused of being the illegitimate offspring of a promiscuous woman. He was accused of being a winebibber and one who consorted with sinners. He was accused of being a blasphemer, and He was condemned to be stripped naked and put on display for all to see in a public execution. Yet, through all of this, the Scripture says of Him in Isaiah 53:7:
“He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.”
Our situations come nowhere near to that which the Messiah endured, but He nevertheless exhibited the example you and I are to follow. Sometimes the best thing is to say nothing. Sometimes the best thing is to do nothing. If we’re in the right, or if we have been forgiven of something that is wrong, then we need to be confident in Him. We can rest in Him and let those in the world say what they are going to say; they are going to do it anyway. The One who truly counts is the One who knows the truth. Let Him vindicate you.
Those who would uncover someone else’s nakedness need to beware. Scripture has a lot to say about those who do these kinds of things, whether they’re true or not. In the end, it might be their own nakedness that’s exposed. What about those who do evil? Shouldn’t we expose them? Biblically speaking, there doesn’t seem to be a “one size fits all” formula for this kind of situation, and so we would be wise to remember what the Messiah said:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)
To those who judge others: are you confident that you are judging righteously? If so, you have nothing to fear for you will be judged in the same manner.; if not, the outcome does not bode well for. For those who are being judged or who have been accused or publicly ridiculed: remember that when the nakedness of the first man was exposed, it was the Creator who, in an act of mercy, covered that nakedness. So, rest in His mercy, forgiveness, compassion, long-suffering, and know that He will bring forth your justice.