“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good…” Titus 2:3
We all sometimes struggle with gossip, which is precisely why it’s briefly addressed by Paul in his letter to Titus. Whether it’s intentional or not, it’s far too easy to begin discussing the hows and whys of someone else’s decisions or thoughts with our neighbor, our sister, or our friend.
We quickly assume to understand someone else’s reasoning for making certain decisions, then package it extravagantly in pretty words and deliver it assertively to undiscerning readers and friends— as though it is Truth — and they believe it. It’s an easy snare to fall into in the blogging world, in personal friendships, and in families, even when we have the best of intentions.
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When others misrepresent you, what do you do? Do you maintain a meek and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4) and extend grace? Or do you feel the need to defend yourself?
Personally, I’ll admit – I struggle with the urge to defend myself. I can be competitive and prideful to a fault if I’m not careful; it’s difficult for me to suppress that sinful nature within that wells up and feels the need to argue, defend, and challenge. It’s been a progressive journey for me, and I have to prayerfully seek to please God and adorn myself with meekness, remaining quiet in the most offensive situations. We are to plant seeds of truth, be salt and light, live a holy life before others, love the body of Christ, and promote unity amongst ourselves. Remember, the world will know us by our love (John 13:35). Often, succumbing to our desire to defend ourselves (even when we feel we are right or have a “righteous” reason for doing so) results in a hasty dissolution of unity among even the most devoted Christians. I’ve seen it far too many times.
Elisabeth Elliott eloquently shared this in her transcript Never Defend Yourself,
“The third vow of spiritual power is never defend yourself. Hum–that’s not easy, is it? We’re all born wanting to defend ourselves. Thrusting our fists heavenward and drawing our things around us, and sort of fending off other people. Well, Tozer suggests that we should never defend ourselves. We’re all born with a desire to defend ourselves. If you insist upon defending yourself, God will let you do it. But if you turn the defense of yourself over to God, He will defend you. He told Moses once in Exodus 23, “I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, an adversary to thine adversaries.”
Further along, Mrs. Elliott says,
“If a story gets out about you, the big temptation is to try to run it down. But you know running down the source of a story is hopeless task–absolutely hopeless. It’s like trying to find the bird after you’ve found the feather on your lawn. I like that metaphor. Like trying to find a bird after you’ve found the feather on your lawn. You can’t do it!”
And, in her closing words, the story I love the most,
“Henry Suso was a great Christian of other days. Once he was seeking what some Christians have told me they are seeking–to know God better. Let’s put it like this, you’re seeking to have a religious awakening with your spirit that will thrust you farther out into the deep things of God. As Henry Suso was seeking God, people started telling evil stories about the man. It grieved him so that he wept bitter tears and had great sorrow of heart. Then one day he looked out the window and saw a dog playing on the lawn. The dog had a mat and kept picking the mat up, tossing it over his shoulder, running and getting it, tossing it some more, picking it up and tossing it again.
God said to Henry Suso, “That mat is your reputation, and I am letting the dogs of sin tear your reputation to shreds and toss it all over the lawn for your own good. One of these days things will change.” Things did change. It was not very long before people who were tearing his reputation were confounded, and Suso rose into a place that made him a power in his day and a great blessing still to those who sing his hymns and read his works.”
It’s difficult when others make unfair assumptions about you, your character, your reasoning, or your motives. All we can do is speak the truth, continue to live according to the Word, strive for unity, offer grace, and trust that He will ultimately turn their words around for the greater good.
If you have prayed, heard from the Lord, and your actions are in line with the Word of God (not contrary to it), then continue steadfastly in your good works, my friend. Take your frustrations, your hurts, your tears to Him in prayer and lay them at His feet. Let Him fight in your stead; He is much stronger than you and mighty to save!