“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” It’s a common American phrase we use, especially as children, when we try to deflect hurtful words spoken to us or about us. But if we’re honest with ourselves, those words can cut deeper than we think. I’ve had situations in life when hurtful, untrue things were said about me to other people, and I was judged based on those slanderous statements. It’s wrong. It’s painful. It’s frustrating.
If this has happened to you, and you are in a season of hurt and pain from untrue words spoken about you, whether inflicted by friends, loved ones, or even church/ministry leaders…I am SO sorry! In my personal experience, people who falsely accuse others or say slanderous things are often acting from a place of unhappiness, pride, selfishness, jealousy, or hurt. One thing I learned quickly is that the devil can use untrue things spoken against me as a tool to cripple me with insecurity, fear, doubt, stress, anxiety, bitterness, unforgiveness, offense, and self-accusation. Don’t let him have this kind of power over you. The person spewing slander is not your enemy; satan is. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
I was recently reading the Bible when a portion of Nehemiah 6 literally made me laugh out loud. Nehemiah was in the process of rebuilding the wall at Jerusalem, when he found out his enemies were saying all sorts of untrue things about him and his intentions in building the wall. His reply in verse 8 is awesome: “…Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.” Seems like an appropriate response when someone is basically lying about you; but in the subsequent verses, the way Nehemiah handled this false accusation is challenging and motivating.
1) When accusation tries to frighten you, respond with prayer and strength.
In Nehemiah 6:9-10, Nehemiah says: “They (the enemies) were all trying to frighten us, thinking ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.’ But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.’” The enemy tried to frighten and discourage them from building the wall, but Nehemiah and the Jews prayed to God to strengthen them. Is someone or something trying to scare or deter you from doing what is right or from fulfilling God’s calling on your life? Pray to God for strength to stand firm and to stay focused on the task in front of you.
2) When accusation tries to intimidate you and give you a bad name, respond with action and confidence.
In Nehemiah 6:10-13, we learn that Nehemiah’s enemies had hired one of his “friends” to pretend to protect him from a false death threat. Nehemiah realized his friend had been bought by his enemies to intimidate him and say false things about him in order to halt progress of the wall. Scripture doesn’t say that Nehemiah said a word about the false death threat or his friend’s betrayal. Instead, he responded with action…he confidently finished building the wall.
Nehemiah didn’t waste time by validating his enemies’ numerous attempts at distracting him or by harboring unforgiveness and bitterness. After the wall of Jerusalem was built, it was a testament to all the surrounding nations that the Jews finished this with God’s help. It showed that God was truly with them. By not letting accusation distract us, we are free to complete the task at hand. Do not let someone’s false words or hurtful actions derail you from fulfilling God’s purposes, plans, and callings on your life.