I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me. Save me, Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues. [Psalm 120:1-2 (NIV)]
Feeling wounded by an unwarranted condemnation, I was struggling with forgiving what to me were slanderous words. The peace that accompanies true forgiveness eluded me as the memory of the accusation haunted me. In comparison to the betrayals, deception, and abuse I’ve managed to forgive in my 74 years, this barely qualified as a misdemeanor. Nevertheless, my integrity had been called into question. Wounded in a way I never expected, I struggled to forgive.
I kept scratching at those hurtful words the way a child does a mosquito bite and, every time I did, it just got worse. Granted, there are far worse things than a false accusation but, sometimes, it’s the little things that are hardest to forgive. That my accuser hadn’t apologized helped fuel my resentment. Bringing my problem to God, I asked why I couldn’t let this slight go. Why was I allowing someone else to make me miserable over what really wasn’t worth losing sleep over?
As I prayed about it, God brought me to Charles Spurgeon’s commentary on Psalm 120 and his words about slander: “Those who have felt the edge of a cruel tongue know assuredly that it is sharper than the sword.” Aimed at our sense of honor, slurs and disparagement can be shot privately, polished up, and delivered with subtlety; nevertheless, they are tipped with poison. “We could ward off the strokes of a cutlass, but we have no shield against a liar’s tongue,” continued the famed 19th century preacher.
Pointing out that stirring up the allegation only makes it spread, Spurgeon continued: “Silence to man and prayer to God are the best cures for the evil of slander.” The Apostle Paul tells us that, “When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly.” [1 Cor. 4:12-13] Heeding the words of both Charles Spurgeon and Paul, I chose silence and prayer. My best response to the attack was quiet integrity rather than any of the sharp retorts filling my mind because the only One who needed to know the truth about me already did!
As for that missing apology—when Jesus told Peter to forgive seventy times seven times, He never set an apology as a prerequisite! As Christians, we are to have forgiving hearts, regardless of the circumstances. We must forgive with as much grace as God has forgiven us! We can’t do so on our own power but we can with God’s! As I resolved to be a peacemaker, God empowered me to forgive the offender.
When we are slandered it is a joy that the Lord knows us, and cannot be made to doubt our uprightness: he will not hear the lie against us, but he will hear our prayer against the lie. [Charles Spurgeon]