A Proper Defense

What should we do when someone wrongly judges us and attacks our character? Should we be defensive, or follow Christ’s example? “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps; He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Pet. 2:21-23).

Chapter 53 of Isaiah is one of the clearest prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament. He suffered in silence for our sins and never once opened His mouth to defend Himself (vs. 7). Our situation is somewhat different, because we are not sinless. However, we still shouldn’t defend ourselves for two reasons. First, if their judgments are right, we don’t have a defense. Christ is our defense. “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (vs. 5). Even though they are wrong in judging you, it would do no good to defend yourself. Attempts to defend your character often intensifies the efforts of those judging you. Follow Christ’s example by not retaliating and trust Him who judges justly. We should thank God that our sins are forgiven, accept the fact that we are a work in progress, and learn from the experience. The wise man said, “Rebuke a discerning man, and he will gain knowledge” (Prov. 19:25). Our response to attacks on our character reveal how secure, or insecure we are in Christ.

Second, if their judgments are wrong, you don’t need a defense. Should someone personally attack your character, just sit and listen. After they have finished pointing out every little character defect, their gun is empty. The last thing you want to do is hand them some more ammunition. If you attempted to defend yourself, they will likely become even more convinced that it is their duty to convince you of your imperfections.

Suppose you responded by saying, “I’m sorry you are upset with me, what do you suggest I do?” That may create an opportunity for ministry for two reasons. First, by not trying to play the role of God in their lives, as they were trying to do in yours, it leaves room for the Holy Spirit to bring conviction in their lives. When we play the role of the Holy Spirit in someone else’s life, it misdirects their battle with God unto ourselves. Second, nobody tears down another person’s character from a position of strength. It is more profitable for you to discover the reason they are angry and upset, than to try defending yourself.

Dr. Neil

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