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How to Respond When You are the Victim of a Slanderous Attack

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MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 20: Alicia Machado campaigns for Hillary Clinton on August 20, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)

In today’s political climate, we hear accusations of slander constantly. Candidate A claims so-and-so about Candidate B and Candidate B responds by calling it slanderous. Untrue. Damaging to their reputation.

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While you are probably not running for office, slander affects you too. People tell defaming lies about you, sometimes inadvertently. And as pastor and blogger Gavin Ortlund writes for The Gospel Coalition, when slander’s “cousin” gossip gets ahold of these lies, a fire of destruction begins.

Slander is a sin. Ortlund points out that when someone sins against us, we are prone to retaliate. This is why we have to know how to respond to slander as Christians.

“Precisely because it’s such a serious sin, we must be especially careful to guard our hearts when it happens to us. One of the easiest ways to be led into sin is when we’re sinned against,” Ortlund writes.

He suggests following these three steps:

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1. Commit your reputation to the Lord. 

Stated simply, “The truth will set you free.” You may not have to defend yourself at all because some lies expose themselves.

Ortlund writes, “in my observation, it’s often better to stay silent, trust in the Lord, and let truth be your greatest advocate in the long run. As my dad puts it, ‘When (not if) your reputation suffers an undeserved injury, your quiet integrity over time will say all that needs to be said.’”

He continues, “put your concern on the truth, not appearance, and don’t let fear be your motivation. After all, it’s in the context of being ‘maligned’ that Jesus says, ‘Have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known’ (Matt. 10:26).”

 

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2. Gently confront the slanderer. 

If confrontation is necessary, especially in defense of your ministry, it must be done lovingly. Ortlund also specifies that confronting conversations are not appropriate over email, texting, phone, or social media. In person is always best.

Remember that the person who committed slander may have done so unknowingly. So ask questions. Get the facts. And use “I” statements instead of “You” statements. For example, “I was hurt when…” is less confrontational than, “You hurt me by…”

Orlund says, “It’s awkward and scary to confront someone. But you must do it. If you don’t, you’re not loving the person who’s slandered you, and you aren’t ‘overcoming evil with good’ (Rom. 12:21).”

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3. Preach the gospel to yourself. 

Don’t become a victim of self-pity. The pain you will feel will be real, but it is nothing compared to the pain Jesus felt dying for your sins on the cross.

“While it doesn’t eliminate the pain of slander, the gospel can reduce our defensiveness and sense of injury if we remember that ‘apart from the grace of God, I’m worse than what I’m being slandered as,’” Ortlund writes.

He says that now is the time to find security in the love of God.

“We must remember that God regards us as his beloved children, that every hair on our head is numbered, and that Jesus is right now interceding for us. Having our hearts secure in his love helps us let go of our pain and seek the restoration of Christ’s reputation more than our own.” 

rotection. The waves of slander may rock us and toss us all about, but He will not let them drown us. As long as we cling to Him for our protection, we will not be moved.” 

God is faithful. We have no reason to doubt Him. If we are truly innocent, “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness” (1 Corinthians 4:5).

Johnson says, “It may not be today. It may not be tomorrow. Or next week or next month or even next year. But God’s ways are perfect, higher than ours. We can trust His character, trust that He will bring the truth to light. In His faithful love and mercy, He will care for you and sustain you.”

Let that be your truth today.

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