Killing My Reputation
Wednesday of Pentecost 22
24 October 2018
Some years ago, at a gathering of pastors, a colleague in whom I had enormous confidence told me that another person at the conference was slandering me. I expressed my surprise at this and refused to allow this colleague to enumerate the specific slanders that had been spoken against me. I told him that I felt my reputation was sufficiently well established that this slander against me would have little effect upon it. I decided that I was not going to be dragged into the blame game, even though I felt hurt by the report. I was grateful to God that for Christ's sake (at least on this one occasion), I was willing to suffer at the hands of another. God Himself protected me and my patience was vindicated.
 
I appreciated the concern of my colleague to report this slander to me personally. He didn't believe what was being said about me, and I presumed (rightly) that others would have the same reaction he did. If we have a good reputation, many calumnies against us can be turned aside without our needing to get into a mud flinging match with our detractors. The refusal to reply may well speak clearly of our innocence, if we are known to be sober and faithful persons. Though there was an attempt to kill my reputation with falsehoods repeated to anyone who would listen, this had no effect, except the veracity of the slanderer was called into question by many who were confronted with the lies about me.
 
I was forced into prayer for my slanderer (Lk 6:28). This is a good thing. I was not concerned about my reputation, for that I committed to God, but I was concerned about how my defamer was destroying his own reputation. This is God's way. "When [Jesus] was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed" (1Pt 2:23-24). We also have a God who was reviled and did not revile. We have a God who will vindicate us for the sake of Him who bore our sins in His body on the tree. If we must die through slander, He promises to raise us to the new life in His righteousness.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"The Fifth Commandment has this goal, that no one would offend his neighbor because of any evil deed, even though he has fully deserved it. For where murder is forbidden, every cause from which murder may spring is also forbidden. For many people, although they do not kill, curse and utter a wish that would stop a person from running far if it were to strike him on the neck. Now, this urge dwells in everyone by nature. It is common practice that no one is willing to suffer at the hands of another person. Therefore, God wants to remove the root and source by which the heart is embittered against our neighbor. He wants to make us used to keeping this commandment ever in view, always to contemplate ourselves in it as in a mirror (Jam 1:23-25), to regard the will of God, and to turn over to Him the wrong that we suffer with hearty confidence and by calling on His name. In this way we shall let our enemies rage and be angry, doing what they can. We learn to calm our wrath and to have a patient, gentle heart, especially toward those who give us cause to be angry (i.e., our enemies)."

Martin Luther, Large Catechism,
1.186-87
James 1:19-27

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
 
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (ESV)
Prayer
Dear Lord, give me a gentle heart, that I might not return slander with anger. Amen.
 
For faithfulness to the end, that the Lord of the church would give us perseverance
 
For the renewal of those who are withering in the faith or have fallen away from their Lord Jesus Christ, that they might be called back to the church in repentance and faith
 
For LouAnn Weber, who will be undergoing a heart ablation on Thursday, that her Lord Jesus would be with her in the midst of this procedure and that He would guard and guide the hands of doctors
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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