How To Respond To Abuse

I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.” But when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased.’Psalm 39:1-2
These verses speak of the temptation we may have to retaliate in speech against those who bring curses on us because of our open devotion to the Lord. There have been times in my own life where I have written a letter to the editor and had it published in our local paper, only to have someone respond to it in a cruel and very personal fashion. Even more common is the modern tendency to hit “Reply” in a blog post, and for people to reply with hateful, cutting comments. I almost always hit the “Publish” button on these comments, because going back to them and reading them months later serves as a reminder of the persecution promised for those who stay true to God’s word. It is almost a badge of honor to be spat upon with cruel words, because it reminds me of the stark difference between truth and lies.
Another aspect to consider from these verses is the need to reply to abuse with good words.  The implication is that there are three paths of response – speaking bitterly, staying silent, or responding with kindness. And the third option is the preferred one.
Our Lord was mocked and spat upon as He went to the cross. Yet the Bible tells us that he did not respond with a verbal counterattack. Indeed, it seems that he said nothing at all when suffering abuse, though he had every right to speak out. There is a lesson which determines our response to persecution in both of the verses above, and in witnessing Jesus’ behavior during his crucifixion.

1 Response to “How To Respond To Abuse”

  1. September 14, 2012 at 11:22 am

    I’m only just beginning to see (& perhaps understand) something… Seems to me that all the “forgive” in the Bible (even Jesus’s example) applie to when I am wronged… but all the “purge the evil amongst you” (Jesus with the temple merchants) comes into play when those around me (family, defenseless, etc.) are wronged. How else are we to resolve the conflict between ‘love one another’ and the incredible evil that is literally killing those whom we love and who are defenseless? Keeping in mind what Jesus said, how would you react if someone came and started to rape your daughter? How would you react if someone were (knowingly) poisoning your son?

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