“Blessed are you when they revile you and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” These words of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 5:11-12, stand in stark contrast to the following warning: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26).
Humanly speaking, we love it when we are well spoken of, and we don’t like it when people hate us, exclude us, revile us and “cast out” our names “as evil” (compare Luke 6:22). But if we shrink back from standing up boldly for the truth, so that we can be accepted by others, then Christ will have no pleasure in us. If we deny Him–through our words or our conduct–for fear that others may ridicule or even persecute us, then Christ will deny us (Matthew 10:33).
Don’t be surprised when you are the victim of malicious lies. Paul was, as he said in Romans 3:8: “… And why not say, ‘Let us do evil that good may come’?–as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.”
As a true Christian, you can expect to be lied about. And you can expect that some may believe those lies. This might include misrepresentations from some of your friends or relatives. It might include business associates or even members of your church. Paul spoke about “evil reports” which were circulated about him, and that he was even accused of being a “deceiver” (2 Corinthians 6:8).
But, without perhaps realizing it, a person who lies about you and who may call you a deceiver has himself become a tool in Satan’s hands–that evil being who is the arch-deceiver and the accuser of the brethren, accusing them day and night (Revelation 12:9-10). It is therefore no surprise when his ministers, perhaps claiming to be servants of Christ, accuse true Christians (2 Corinthians 11:15). They act in this way so that they–or their self-invented “cause”–may appear “righteous” in the eyes of man; but their “end will be according to their works” (same verse).
Sometimes I wonder whether such evil workers of iniquity have “no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). I ask myself, don’t they know that they will have to answer to God, in His due time? Do they even care? And then I have to remind myself: Don’t be surprised! It’s prophesied to happen. Christ said: “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you… but all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me” (John 15:20-21).
I have been lied about many times–as I am sure that you have been. And it is never easy to hear vicious rumors about yourself–knowing them to be absolute falsehoods and misrepresentations; KNOWING that these “evil things” have been “invented” by evil minds (compare Romans 1:30). Still, we ARE told NOT to hate such evil workers of iniquities–even though we surely are to HATE with all our being WHAT they are doing–but to “give place” to the wrath of God. We are to “bless those who persecute” us (Romans 12:14), always remembering the truthful saying of God: “‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).
I’m not saying that this is easy. I’m sometimes surprised how difficult it may be. Especially when malicious and vicious lies are being spread about us which are totally untrue–and when others believe those lies, even though they should know better. No, it is not easy to bless in such situations, rather than to curse (Romans 12:14), but this is what we are commanded to do. And we are to even rejoice in persecutions, knowing that God blesses us in such situations. Peter tells us: “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” (1 Peter 4:14).
And so, we know that God will bring to light, in His due time, the true motives of everyone, and we are confident that God will praise the wrongfully accused (compare 1 Corinthians 4:5).
Don’t be surprised when persecution comes. But be certain that you are found in the role of the wrongfully accused–and never in the role of the wrongful accuser. After all, it IS a serious and “fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).