February 19, 2011 by Stacy McDonald

Those “Bad” People

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What’s the first thing you do when someone insults you? Does it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? How about when you’re accused of something you didn’t do, or when you find out that someone is gossiping about you? What do you do when you’ve been deceived, betrayed, or slandered?

If you’re like me, your heart begins to race, and your first reaction is to become defensive. We all have the desire to prove our own innocence; and, when someone has sinned against us, we want to prove their guilt too. I know what you’re thinking: there’s an element of justice to be considered. We want to see the innocent (us) avenged, and the guilty (them) punished.

We forget that we are a people of unclean hands and unclean lips. Before those “bad people” who offend us, we may stand innocent; but, it’s  an illusion. We must compare ourselves to Christ’s holiness, not man’s filthiness.

Oh, I may not have lied about that, but I have surely lied. I may not have said that, but if you only knew what I really wanted to say! I may not be guilty of that, but I am surely guilty of much worse.

For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. (Matthew 7:2)

We say, “God, go get him!” But, God says, “You know not what you ask!” As Nathan said to David, “You are the man.” (2 Samuel 12:5–7) When we desire to see “justice” visited upon our neighbor, we should consider what that means for us.

Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:37–38)

Avoiding common vice is one thing; but, responding biblically to the sins of others, well that is another matter. Few things are more difficult. When someone sins against us, the very best thing we can do is to grieve over the fact that God is not being glorified, and then purpose in our hearts to make up for it by blessing that person in return. But, too often, we respond like for like; and two people then grieve God, rather than one. If we bless, rather than curse, then Grace is manifested in our lives in a real and living way…and Jesus is glorified.

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:44–45)

Extend much grace today? Think about it.



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15 Responses to “Those “Bad” People”

  1. theresa says:

    thanks for the gentle reminder!

  2. Lisa says:

    Dealing with a difficult person in my life right now, and have found such truth in these Scriptures! The blessing has been to see the Lord bless ME in ways I never imagined, merely for obeying Him and using my words (and thoughts!) only for good. Thanks, Stacey, for this post!

  3. Sherrin Drew says:

    I have appreciated your recent posts about dealing with conflict and sin in others. I recently read a devotional by Nancy Campbell (100 Days of Blessing) where she said that Jesus’ example indicates that we should not seek to defend ourselves when we are slandered. We should rather (in general) ignore it and get on with the work God has called us to do. Thanks for your humility in sharing your imperfections in obeying Christ’s commands regarding loving those who are wrong or hurt us.

  4. jen kindle says:

    Thank you for the encouragement. I have a difficult friend/situation that i am dealing with but my children are involved in the friendship (not the disagreement). I have been praying for the person and the situation.

  5. Wow. How true this is. Thank you for the wonderful reminder today. You have such a beautiful and Biblical way of putting things. Somehow I started forgetting this…so your article was just the reminder that I needed. God Bless you and your family this beautiful Sunday!

    Building Home with Him,

    Mary Joy

  6. Jennifer says:

    This is all true, but we can’t forget that some sins are criminal and justice is needed. I pray every few days that those on a criminal level, like child abusers, will be caught and held accountable. We also must not let accusations of slander go by simply because we’ve lied before at some point; I’m sure you’re not advocating that Stacy, but I feel it needs to be said. The guilty must be held accountable, and that means all of us.

    “Jesus’ example indicates that we should not seek to defend ourselves when we are slandered”

    Jesus did not ignore every accusation at all; His defense was Truth. When slander comes about, the truth must be told.

  7. Stacy McDonald says:

    Of course, Jennifer! God has given us guidelines for holding men accountable for sin. Otherwise we would have anarchy. Godly authority restrains sin (though it doesn’t remove it). And, as someone who has been significantly slandered, I agree that there is a time for a godly defense.

    The article was referring more to our heart reaction. I am better able to forgive and not become bitter when I remember that I am a sinner who has been forgiven much. It’s so easy to focus on the sins of others and imagine they are so much worse than our own.

    And, Jennifer, I had a question about your quote: “Jesus’ example indicates that we should not seek to defend ourselves when we are slandered”.

    Where did that come from? I sure didn’t say it! :-)

  8. Jennifer says:

    Good points Stacy, thank you :)

    “Jesus’ example indicates that we should not seek to defend ourselves when we are slandered”.”

    Another poster did, quoting a writer.

  9. Stacy McDonald says:

    Ah, I see. I missed that. I should really write on this subject some time. One good example of rightfully “defending” ones self against (or seeking relief from) continuous attack is found here:

  10. http://familyreformation.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/is-it-lawful-for-a-christian-to-sue-a-christian/
  • Mandi says:

    Wow, what a timely post! Thanks for sharing!
    I, just lastnight, had this happen to me – and totally throw me off. I was hurt, confused and crushed in spirit. My husband found me in a pool of tears when he arrived home and it was all I could humanly do to not be angry and sin.

    Thank you for the reminder!

  • sophie says:

    Hello Ms. Stacy!
    Your blog looks pretty!! How did you successfully have it as three columns as I’m trying to work on mine :) Thank you always for your thought-provoking posts…
    :)

  • Sherry says:

    Definitely needed this today.. :)

  • I recently found your blog and enjoy it verymuch. Our family is going to be coming to Ill for a wedding and we are going to be coming to visit your church on April 3. i am looking forward to metting you.

  • Lori Devine says:

    Thank you. I needed this.

  • Stacy McDonald says:

    I can forgive you whether or not you repent because it involves the status of my own heart, as I keep in the forefront of my mind how much I have been forgiven.

    “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7:2)

    However, that does not mean that if you refuse to repent, reconciliation will automatically happen.

    I think that’s where things can get confusing. Any time we’re dealing with the will of two sinners, there is the possibility that only one will be willing to obey God. You may forgive me for burning down your house or hurting me, but if I have not repented and tried to make things right with you, you are not required to (and should not) pretend all is well between us. Reconciliation almost always requires repentance.

    That being said, we should strive to forgive the minor sins and weaknesses of those around us because “love covers a multitude of sin” (1 Pet. 4:8). If we find ourselves becoming personally offended by every small infraction, we have become strife-makers rather than peace-makers (Prov. 10:12; 15:18; 16:28; 28:25; 29:22).

    There is also the possibility that I have misjudged the situation (because God is the only true and perfect judge) and I can’t see or don’t believe your testimony. Or perhaps I have falsely accused you based on misrepresented circumstances, mistrust, or past hurts. Maybe my own bitterness and sin has gotten in the way and blinded me.

    This is where trusting God and loving our neighbor comes in. This is where taking others at their word, giving the benefit of the doubt, praying for those who use us, turning the other cheek, seventy times seven, and a few dozen others biblical principals come into play.

    If you come to me and asked me to forgive you, I am required by God as a Christian to forgive you. I may not (without sinning) assume false motives, judge your heart, or desire to make you “pay” or grovel.

    Sadly, I have behaved just this way many times. I have held on to hurts and offenses and masked my unforgiveness with an illusion of righteous anger. Thank you, Lord, for your mercy…mercy I haven’t always been willing to give. Please keep me every mindful of your grace…and ever willing to extend it to others.

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