For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:21-23 ESV)
Jesus took on a lot of verbal abuse in his day. He was often misunderstood because many people did not want their sins exposed by his truth. Who was he to tell them what to do or how to live? Who gave him this authority, and how dare he claim to be equal with God?
Jesus never sinned and didn’t tell a lie. His motives were pure because he only followed the Father’s word and instruction. He entrusted himself to God because he was with him in heaven and understood his plan to redeem this world. Jesus was never a doubting man because he knows the Father and has seen him face-to-face. Maintaining the confidence of his identity, he spoke truth plainly and also in parables, and left it up to people to either believe or reject him.
When he was mocked, ridiculed, and spit on, he did not fight back. He did not cower; he was God in the flesh, restraining himself from exercising any vengeance. He laid down his life being patient and loving because he knew that not everyone was ready to believe the gospel. God’s plan had to be carried out; he needed to die and be raised back to life so that those who witnessed these events would be privileged to tell the greatest news to ever be recorded on earth.
Choosing not to revile back, to let words be said at the risk of wrecking your reputation is awfully hard to do. We can be so hurt by what people say, especially when the rumors are not true. I don’t think we are meant to rest on every offense that we receive. What we should do is extend an invitation to listen and speak to those in conflict with us so that we can understand each other and make amends. After all, the Bible says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). There will be occasions when that is not possible, when people have made up their minds to be your enemy and just slander your name when you have done nothing wrong. In those instances, we can follow Jesus’ example and entrust ourselves to God. He will deal with them accordingly, and we can exercise our freedom to ignore their taunts and accusations.
While we remain on this earth, we don’t have time to be wrapped up in all that crazy drama. There is much more work to do and God wants us to stay focused on him. When we ignore critics, we remove their power over us no matter how loud they get. We become much more effective because our minds are set on the will of God and not on false rhetoric. And as long as we continue to walk with him, he will occupy us with way more important things to do — things that involve expanding his kingdom and bringing more people to have faith in him.