Jesus was no stranger to detractors who attacked his unimpeachable character. No doubt this was one type of persecution Jesus had in mind when he told his disciples, “…a servant in not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you….” John 15:20.
Satan’s character assassins are alive and well today. I say “Satan’s character assassins” because the original word “diabolos” in the KJV is translated “slanderer” in 1 Tim. 3:11 and “false accuser” in 2 Tim. 3:3 and Tit. 2:3. It is translated “devil” 37 other times. That’s right, devil! An example of this is found in John 9. After receiving one character attack after another, Jesus’ told the Pharisees and believing Jews they were “…of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there in no truth in Him….” Lying to woman and man in the Garden, in essence murdered them. Maligning another’s character imitates Satan. It is a sin conceived in the heart, and brought to fruition with the tongue. It is not born of love, but rather hatred. “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” 1 Jo. 3:15
We cannot make the claim of sinless character that Jesus possessed. Nonetheless, many godly men and women are the victim of those who seek to destroy their good character. The character assassin, like Satan, uses many devices. #1 At times, slanderous remarks and insinuation are leveled at a Christian because of jealousy. In some cases the spiritual success in others turns the smallest spark of jealousy into a wild fire raging out of control, leaving the incited individual on a campaign to belittle and degrade another. The character assassin allows resentment to build in his heart because, he recognizes his conviction and commitment to the Lord is put to shame. #2 The slanderer knows what sowing the slightest seed of doubt in the mind of a fellow-gossip can achieve. Sometimes it starts by asking the right person, the right question about another. No specific indictment need be made; the so called power of suggestion is toxic. #3 Other times, the slanderer is upset because his/her agenda is unintentionally thwarted by others. Self-willed Christians, who insist on having their way, will stop at nothing to promote their agenda, even if it means destroying the good name of others. .
What should the victim do? It is said of our Lord, our esteemed role model, that, “…when He was reviled He reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judges righteously.” 1 Pet 2:23. In short, turn it over to the Lord. Sooner or later he will right ALL wrongs. Right thinking people will see through the character assassin’s malicious criticisms. Others who refuse to be objective will not be convinced with a multitude of words.
Imitating the Lord in this matter challenges our faith and self-control. We want vindication, we want clearing, we want justice! Be sure the Lord will deliver, “avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, vengeance is mine; I WILL repay, saith the Lord.” Rom.12:19 Retribution belongs to the Lord; He will deal equitably and justly, unimpaired by anger, hurt feelings and embarrassment. You and I won’t. The world attempts to influence us to lash out, or render vigilante justice through some scheme to “get even.” To retaliate is to fall into a snare set by Satan, reducing us to the same level as the character assassin.
Jesus made a statement in Luke 21 while warning of impending persecutions, “in your patience possess ye your souls.” Who possesses your soul? Think about it.