Uncorking the Whole Jug

Every faithful servant of God has to learn how to respond to the lies that are told about him. One reaction is to do precisely that, react, and respond in the flesh. If someone slaps you in the face, that initial reaction is probably what the flesh wants you to do. The reason for responding has less to do with the honor of God than it has to do with the fundamental desire to “get even.” But Paul teaches us not to take vengeance, not because vengeance is wrong, but because vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord. Vindication is the Lord’s.

But it is important to emphasize that the desire to get even is a fleshly response because of the motives; the problem is not that it is an actual response in the physical world. Another carnal reaction is what we might call the pacifist option. Taking the truth that God is the one who vindicates, it is assumed that this must mean no action or words or defense on the part of the slandered is ever appropriate. If someone says something in his own defense, it is simply assumed that he is angling for his own vindication, not the Lord’s. But we don’t apply this foolishness to other aspects of our lives, nor should we. I thank God for the food, but I also buy the food with the paycheck that I earned. The biblical position on all such matters is trust, not quietism. If someone defends himself vigorously against slander (as the apostle Paul frequently did), this is not evidence that he was not trusting God.

From time to time, I have contemplated writing a narrative story of the events of the last couple years — on all the controversies, and how all of them have come together into one grand donnybrook. And what a story it would be! But I have put this off for various reasons. One, I want to be sure that I am not reacting in the flesh. Thomas Watson put it well, “Better to be wronged than to do wrong,” and waiting a bit while making such a decision seems to be prudent. Second, the elders of Christ Church have told me not to worry about defending myself, and they have done a very capable job of saying and doing everything that needs to be said and done. One of the things a telling of this story would do is reveal what a group of stalwarts they have been. Third, a complete story would reflect badly on people who should have known better, people I don’t want to hurt in the telling. And there is no real way to tell this story without uncorking the whole jug.

But for the present, I will say one thing. The Psalms are amazingly relevant. Not only do they describe what is going on, they also are very descriptive about how the story ends. Diggers of pits fall into them, and vindication is the Lord’s.

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