Ending the Argument
Ridicule and slander are cheap methods of discrediting an opponent. Even a little whisper of 'concern' can soon fan into a flame that burns a hole in the community's confidence. Of course, these are ungodly tactics used by unholy people and should never be seen in Christ's church. But they are the frequently-used tools of those who want to dishonour Christians, the church, and our Lord Jesus Christ. That is what the jeering mob did with Jesus (Luke 23:18-25); and it is still easy to raise a rabble against the righteous (Acts 21:27).
It is said that more Christians are being persecuted for their faith now than at any previous time in history. Certainly, there are more Christians now throughout the world, and with better communications, it is easier to spread malicious ideas. But despite human rights legislation in many countries, few cases of slander against believers are settled in the law courts; and it is rarely possible to have a fair public debate. This verse says that the best defence is the consistency of a good life. That kind of evidence keeps burning in the faces of the accusers, whose words are shown to be empty and without foundation.
That was the Apostle Paul’s testimony too, “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” (Philippians 1:12-14). When believers keep on doing what is right and good despite persecution, they show the world that their confidence lies in Jesus rather than their skill in outwitting their accusers.
Yet, doing what is good, when others are behaving wickedly towards you, is not a natural human reaction - naturally we seek revenge (Romans 12:19). But Peter says that Jesus has given us the right example: "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." (1 Peter 2:23). And so Jesus was not deflected from His mission by the taunts of false accusers. Neither should we in the face of Satan's lies and their human distributors (Revelation 12:10-11). Instead, we should do good, commit ourselves to God's protection, and pray for our persecutors (Matthew 5:44).
© Dr Paul Adams