When Standing Up for Yourself Is Not Okay

God will test us to see just how much we cherish our reputations.

Precious in God’s sight is the person whose character is above reproach . . . but those of us who belong to God have no rights when it comes to the matter of reputation. In fact, sometimes God will allow us to be slandered in order to sharpen our character.

A handful of years ago, in an attempt to discredit me, someone accused me of a deed I’d never even considered, much less done. The fact that the accusation was so ludicrous actually helped it to spread because people assumed there had to be at least a grain of truth in it—surely no one would make up something like that! I was devastated and humiliated. I felt the raised eyebrows and got wind of the disapproving comments. This incident was the last straw in a very difficult season during which I lost friends and experienced deep depression.

Several times, I tried to defend myself, which amounted to shouting into the roaring wind; my attempts were completely ineffective. Finally one morning, the Lord dealt with me point-blank: “You can defend yourself, or I can do it. Which is it going to be? You or Me?” For the next hour, as I flipped through my Bible, I “stumbled” across verse after verse about God’s role as our great Defender. I was reminded that Jesus “made himself of no reputation” (Phil. 2:7). If He didn’t defend Himself while being humiliated and ridiculed, surely I had no right to do so. With a feeling of great relief (defending oneself is exhausting!), I gave up the fight and simply went on about my business of loving God and loving people.

Ideally, our reputation will speak for itself—that is, our love for God will result in others knowing that we’re considerate, trustworthy, and so on. But even the most honorable person is sometimes slandered, and then his true colors will show. Often he’s faced with the choice between maintaining his good character even as his reputation is smeared across the pavement, or jumping to his own defense in spite of God’s directive to stand down.

Sometimes our comfort and strength come from simply knowing we’re pleasing to the Father, if to no one else. My story lacks a fairy-tale ending; I was never vindicated, and my accuser was never proven to be a liar. But here’s the clincher: it doesn’t matter anymore. My emotions are completely detached from the whole fiasco because it’s not my concern. My reputation is in God’s hands. He can do what He wants with it.

I leave you with a quote from A. W. Tozer: “Whoever defends himself will have himself for his defense, and he will have no other; but let him come defenseless before the Lord and he will have for his defender no less than God Himself.”

6 thoughts on “When Standing Up for Yourself Is Not Okay

  1. Wow. I can’t even believe what I just read. I could have written this myself. The exact things you described came flooding back, the bad memories, the hurt from the lies and the fact that everyone believed them. God dealt with me in the exact same way. I was literally physically ill from the stress when I heard from Him: “Turn the other cheek, shut up, let me handle it because I know the truth”. I let it go, and trusted God to defend me. That was enough. It happened five years ago. What the people did to me is still fresh and still hurts. What God did for me was allow me to forgive, heal myself, and try to move forward. Amen. Just amen sister 😊

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Merri. I’m overjoyed that you, too, were able to trust Him to defend You. He doesn’t disappoint. 🙂

  2. Not that I’d wish it on anyone, but I’m so glad I’m not alone in this situation. I feel like I just told you what has happened in the last six months of my life and you are counseling me. I so badly want to defend myself, or want someone to stand up for me… Or at least beside me. I was looking in the wrong direction. I should have been looking up. Because, your right, God knows the truth and He knows my heart and He’s all that matters. Thank you for this encouragement to move forward.

  3. Karen, I understand so well the temptation to keep speaking up and trying to be heard when injustice has been done. It’s so easy for us to see what really happened—why is everyone else so blind!? If it’s any consolation, there are certain beautiful things in my life that wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t hushed when God said, “That’s enough. Now hush.” Even if you’re never vindicated by people, I promise that you WILL see fruit brought forth by God. One day you’ll wake up and think, “Wow, NOW I see what God was producing, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

  4. How do you know when you shouldn’t stand up for yourself? I know sometimes we are under constant attack from Satan. However, sometimes you have to stand up for yourself. God, made us strong, and I dont think he wants us to be taken advantage or abused. So if someone was harming you or me, its natural to protect ourselves from harm.

  5. I agree that there are times when we must say NO and put a stop to abuse, but there are definitely other times when being strong means doing what Jesus demonstrated by being silent and letting the Father deal with our accusers. Also please note that I was making reference to verbal accusations (versus physical abuse) that might tarnish our reputation or sway what others believe about us. Often, there is no reasoning with such a person (such as a pathological liar), and God can do a much better job of dealing with them than we can. 🙂 Sometimes it might be difficult to tell which response the Lord desires in a particular situation, and all we can do is ask Him and wait for His answer. Thank you so much for your comment!

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