When People Speak Against You
Most people do not find it pleasant to have people speak against them. 1 Peter 4:14-16 points out there are two different reasons people might speak against us. It says, “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter” (NKJV). Sometimes people speak against us because we have committed some sort of sin and there is no glory in suffering because of sinful decisions we have made. However, there are times we are, “reproached for the name of Christ,” or suffering as a Christian. Here is a person who is being spoken against because he is doing the right thing rather than the wrong thing. How should we respond when we are being spoken against for doing the right thing as a Christian?
Christians should recognize Christianity is spoken of as something, “spoken against everywhere” (Acts 28:22, NKJV). A person should not expect to be a Christian and never be spoken against because he is doing the right thing. Persecution, including ridicule, etc., is part of what is involved in being a Christian (2 Timothy 3:12). 1 Peter 4:12 teaches us not to think of suffering for the cause of Christ as a strange thing. When Jesus sent out the 12 apostles, He told them, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!” (Matthew 10:24-25, NKJV). Jesus was spoken against and called terrible things throughout His life. If we are following in the footsteps of Jesus as His disciples, we can expect to be spoken against as well. Luke 6:22-23 and Matthew 5:10-12 reminds us the prophets of old were spoken against. If we are going to be faithful in proclaiming and following God’s message as they were among sinful individuals, we can expect a similar response to what they experienced.
Christians need to remember not everything people say against them is always true. 1 Peter 4:14 reminds us people may reproach us for the cause of Christ and be blaspheming yet we are capable of glorifying God. Many of the things spoken against Jesus and His apostles were not true. At times people will say things which are not true about us also. One of the things we can do as Christians to help such accusations from gaining ground with honest people is to conduct ourselves in a godly manner. Twice in 1 Peter instruction was given to these Christians along this line. 1 Peter 2:12 says, “having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (NKJV). 1 Peter 3:16 says, “having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed” (NKJV). Let’s make sure we conduct ourselves like Daniel did where a person cannot find any fault in us except in regards to the law of our God (Daniel 6:4-5).
Christians must work not to revile those who revile them. It is easy to drop to the level of reviling other people who are reviling us. However, Jesus gives us an example of how to respond in a completely different manner (1 Peter 2:21-24; 3:8-9). Jesus teaches us to love our enemies by blessing, praying for them, and doing good to them (Matthew 5:43-48). Such may be very much counter to what many do but we need to respond in this manner if we are going to imitate Christ.
Have you been spoken against because of doing what is right as a Christian? If you have, are you responding to those attacks in a godly manner? If you have not, it might be good to examine whether we are letting our light shine and having the sort of influence God expects us to have upon others (Matthew 5:13-16).