When we stopped at the local diner to grab a quick lunch, we weren’t expecting to witness a prisoner being set free. We had no idea that we’d see repentance.
We weren’t expecting humility to show up over chips and salsa.
We’ve all experienced it: the destructive force of gossip. Slander knows no bounds. It can ruin reputations, destroy public trust, and rob the good name of a man of integrity. Those who hold leadership positions are understandably prone to public scrutiny and should be held accountable for misconduct. But what about those who are faithful, trustworthy servants who endure the diabolical smearing of their reputation because of a few well-placed innuendoes and false reports that twist public perception?
No matter how well you’ve lived your life, the sad truth is that you may never be able to recover the favorable regard of those who’ve been influenced by the slander monster.
Thankfully, as Christians, we don’t live for the praise of man. But we also should strive to live in such a way that our credibility as a witness for Christ isn’t impaired. However, when slander is let loose, there isn’t a lot we can do about it. We entrust ourselves, our reputation and our future to the one who is faithful and just.
If God allows our character to be maligned, we trust that He has good purpose in it.
For me and my husband, today was a first.
A former church member of ours was sitting across the room from us at a table by himself. My husband knew that this man was one of a group that stirred up dissension in our church more than a decade before. But as my husband is always faithful to do, he demonstrated lovingkindness to one who may view my husband as his “enemy.” My husband left our table to go over and greet the man and spent time asking about his family.
As I’ve seen him do so many times throughout our lives, my husband extended grace to one who has participated in harming him.
After spending several moments with him, my husband returned to our table and when our lunch came, we quietly prayed for the man before eating our lunch. We were almost finished when the man made his way over to our table. He pulled up a nearby seat and we could tell he was struggling to share something deeply personal. His eyes started brimming with tears.
In brokenness he confessed to my husband that he had used his tongue in a destructive way and several years ago had spoken against my husband. He asked his forgiveness as we both stood to embrace him.
We watched as the shackles of bitterness dropped.
We were all weeping as the man walked away.
We didn’t ask for details, we don’t need those. We endured a dark and painful season during that time of our lives, but we trust that God will continue to produce fruit from those years of faithful service. Today’s conversation was evidence of God’s power to bring the slanderer to repentance. That is the work of the gospel, and that fruit was worth our pain.
Have you used your tongue to damage a brother or sister?
Have you asked their forgiveness?
Don’t wait, do it today.
[box]“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)[/box]
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