In this series we have stressed that Christians should both submit and give appropriate honor to earthly authorities. Furthermore, we are to pray for our leaders and speak evil of no one. Slanderous tongues should not belong to genuine followers of Jesus!
But this leaves a serious question unanswered: How should a Christian respond to wickedness he sees in the lives of his contemporaries (i.e., whether they are his neighbors or the civil authorities)? The Bible is clear that he should not speak evil of anyone (which would include evildoers!). What is he to do then? Should he simply ignore the wicked behavior and remain silent concerning it? Is there a way in which Christians can stand against evil in a respectful, God-approved fashion, without being guilty of slander or becoming bitter? The answer is a resounding yes.
In addition to the Scriptures we have considered thus far in this series and the example of Christ Himself, let us consider two other biblical examples that are worthy of our emulation. I believe these examples show us how we, who are striving to be holy, can respond to wickedness without becoming guilty of slander.
II Peter 2:9-11 – “Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.”
Two characteristics that identify those who walk according to the flesh are that they “despise authority” and “they are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries.” Let that sink in, friends, and may we not be guilty of either! Those who do not show respect and speak evil against authorities (which are appointed by God) are unjust and will fall under God’s judgment!
The angels of God, however, who are mightier and more powerful than any mortal, will not slander those who do evil. What gives us the right to do so? Pride makes us think we are something special, but even if we were something great, slander would still have no proper place in our lives. The angels know their proper place; they know that only the Lord can condemn those who do evil. May we learn from their example!
THE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL
We have another example that will further teach us not to slander: the archangel Michael. When he was arguing with the devil–Satan himself–Michael did not slander him. Now, who is more evil in the Universe than the father of lies (cf. John 8:44)? No one! Who is more deserving of being slandered than Satan? No one! But even a leader among angels would not bring himself to slander or condemn Satan! That, to me, is incredible. Jude 9 reads – “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!'” And there’s our answer as to how we should speak to evildoers: Don’t slander them, and leave all condemnation up to God. When you are tempted to speak evil of anyone, restrain yourself to four powerful words – “The Lord rebuke you!” In the end, all condemnation and vengeance is in God’s hands anyway, not ours. “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19).
When Paul was desiring to return to Corinth and help the church there, he said – “For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish…that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder” (II Cor. 12:20, ESV). It was Paul’s prayer that the Corinthians did not fall prey to these sins. He feared such might be present in their lives, and I fear such is present in the lives of too many Christians today. What would Jesus find in your heart and life if He returned today? Make sure slander has no root in your heart and no place on your lips!