“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness in the heavenly places . . . that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:12-13
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7
The key that we want to talk about today is the command: “and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13) One of the most difficult problems each one of us will face at sometime in our life is the problem of someone spreading lies about us. We stand in amazement as we see people who have been our friends for years (or so we thought), accept the lies and gossip and turn against us. Most often, the lies and gossip comes from people who we have done much to help in the past. In fact, it seems that the more we do to help someone, the faster he/she will turn against us and spread gossip against us. As you read this and recognize that you yourself have had such a problem, it would be well for you to take a minute and examine your own life. When was the last time you engaged in the spreading of negative things about someone? Things that you have not witnessed yourself, or have exaggerated, or simply accepted gossip from someone else? All of us have fallen into this sin at some time in our life! Take a moment and confess this sin to God and receive forgiveness before you read any further.
When we find ourselves in this sort of trouble, it is time to refresh our memories of these two scriptures written above. Many times all we can do is simply stand. Stand humble before God, walking quietly in humility keeping our own mouths shut tight. Stand, and let God defend you. I first learned this lesson many years ago. I was just 20 years old and had just graduated from college with a degree and became a registered nurse. An older woman in my class had befriended me and highly recommended that I go to work at the local university medical center on the night shift. She extolled to me the advantages of working there because I would learn so much. I took her advice and got a job at that hospital and began to work as a night float nurse. That meant that each night I worked on a different unit, where ever more help was needed, or someone had called in sick. The woman who so strongly recommended that I work there took six weeks off after graduation before returning to work in the same hospital. She had worked there in a lesser position than a registered nurse for some years before returning to school. She returned to work to find me settled in and comfortable in the job. I don’t know exactly what happened to her, but within a couple of weeks she began to spread all kinds of lies about me. Now, a hospital night shift is a tight community, and gossip spreads very quickly. Almost overnight, I found that I did not have a friend left in the whole hospital. I was shocked and dismayed.
Praise God, I had a very wise and godly father at the time. I went to my parents in tears and told them what was happening. I wanted to quit my job and go to work somewhere else. My father listened to all I had to say, then asked, “So, are you guilty of doing the things this woman is accusing you of doing?”
“No, I am not! I have never done any of those things!” I replied angrily.
“Then you will NOT quit your job. That is not acceptable to the Lord. You will stand according to Ephesians six, and trust the Lord to defend you. Humble yourself and trust God. If you quit, you are admitting to guilt.”
I was not happy with my father’s advice, but I followed it. Because of the attitude of the other employees who accepted the gossip, the supervisors assigned me to work in the Neurosurgery Intensive Care Unit, a unit that I hated because most of the cases were hopeless! I worked there for 6 months, very quietly I might add. It was not easy. At the end of the six months, the other woman who started the whole trouble did something, I don’t remember what, and was fired. Shortly after that I returned to working the other units, and quickly the employees forgot the gossip and lies and became my friends again. In another year I was promoted to be one of the night supervisors. God had exalted me in due time.
When my first book was published, I was astounded at the number of people who not only disagreed with me, but seemed to then dedicate their lives to destroying me. The lies flew fast and furious. I found myself spending hours carefully answering many letters asking me question after question about all the various lies being spread about me. Finally, the brother who was sort of my spiritual mentor at the time took me in hand and said, “Rebecca, why are you spending hours writing all those letters defending yourself? Don’t you know that the people asking the questions are not really interested in your defense? They simply want to take up your time. For every question you answer, they will have five more. You need to follow Nehemiah’s example.”
I realized that he was right! For every question I answered, the person always had at least three more, they were never satisfied. I studied the book of Nehemiah and learned an important lesson. Nehemiah was sent by God to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. The enemies of the Jews did not want the wall rebuilt. They did everything they could to stop the work. When nothing worked, finally they contacted Nehemiah and said, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm. So I sent messengers to them saying, ‘I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:2-3) The Lord spoke to me and said, “Why are you taking time away from the work I have given to you to do to answer all those questions about the lies against you? Simply stand and trust me to defend you.” This is what I have done ever since. It is God’s job to defend me!
“Yes,” you may be saying, “but the gossip against me is continuing. It never seems to stop!”
The same is true in our lives. Daniel and I have experienced this ever since we got married. First people said our marriage would never last. Well, we have been married 22 years now. Then they accused us of everything else imaginable. As we simply stand quietly and humbly before the Lord, one set of gossip and lies dies down only to have someone else bring up something different. First one person and then another, first one thing, then another. Satan’s kingdom never runs out of lies! Jesus told Satan that he is the father of all lies. The temptation is to quit and run. But the fact is that you cannot leave your troubles behind, they will surely follow you wherever you go. Daniel and I have lived for more than 20 years in the same area now. Time and again there have been waves of gossip and lies spread about us by different people. Always as we stand firm and walk quietly and humbly, that particular set of lies comes to an end, and the very people who started them sometimes come back and act friendly to us, some even telling us that they were wrong.
One example happened a little more than five years ago when the Lord gave Daniel a vision to build a drag strip as an outreach ministry to the unsaved who would never set foot into a church. We had no idea that Satan would fight so hard against us. We used all our finances plus borrowed money to build the project. When we were half way through construction, some of the people in the area rose up against us and took us to court and managed to stop the construction. We ended up in a three month very expensive court battle. During that time, one of the women of the group (all of whom claimed to be Christians) started writing letters to the editor in our local newspaper. Our nearest town is a town of only 2,500 people. In a rural setting such as this, everyone knows everyone, and gossip spreads throughout the community like lightening. The local newspaper comes out once per week, and everyone reads it. This woman wrote letters to the editor falsely accusing Daniel and me of everything imaginable. She accused us by name, and told people to go to certain web sites that publish vicious lies about us as proof of her accusations. Of course, many people who read her letters accepted them as being true and turned against us. A number of local businesses told us that they did not want us coming into their place of business any more.
Week after week, this woman sent in her letters, and the paper printed them. Week after week, Daniel and I simply stood and waited on the Lord. It was so very difficult! Finally, after several weeks, the Holy Spirit directed us to send in a response. We wrote a brief letter to the editor saying that we wished to respond to Mrs. So and So who had been accusing us of many things. We wrote: Mrs. So and So, we just want you to know that we fully and freely forgive you for all the false and negative things you have been writing about us. It is our prayer that our Lord Jesus Christ will richly bless you and bring you peace.” That was the end of her letters to the editor! She never wrote another one! AND, we never heard another word from anyone in our area about the lies that she had written. Praise God! As we stood in forgiveness, fulfilling Luke 6:28, and prayed for God to bless her, the Lord defended us. We won the court case, finished the construction and opened up the drag strip. Many lives have been changed through this work.
One day as I stood against yet another set of lies against me on an Internet web site, I asked the Lord, “Lord, why don’t you get these people off the Internet? They have managed to get many of my speaking engagements canceled! They have been spreading lies about me for over 25 years!”
The Lord answered me from Psalm 23:5-6, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me, All the days of my life” Then the Lord said, “I will not remove your enemies, instead I will bless you in their presence!” And so He has.
Daniel and I will both testify to you that God is faithful! It takes time and is very difficult. Usually we lose people who we thought were our friends, but as we remind ourself of this important lesson, and simply stand humbly before the Lord, He defends and blesses us every time.