Bible Study Resources - Tips, Online Bible Search, Devotions

What Does the Bible Say about Bullying and How We Should Respond?

What Does the Bible Say about Bullying and How We Should Respond?

When you hear the word bullying what comes to mind? Is it the locker room from high school? Faces of middle school girls? Comments at the workplace? Bullying is a sin. It is not easy to walk through persecution, but with the help of Christ, we can overcome the mistreatment of others. Today we are going to look at what does the Bible say about bullying?

What Does the Bible Say about Bullying?

I can remember the hateful comments, ganging up, gossip, and mistreatment by the girls in my middle school class. Nothing that I ever did was enough for them. The fact that I was not trying to be like them probably made things even more difficult, but I had the beautiful opportunity to learn that Jesus was my best friend, and I was responsible for pleasing Him, not the girls. The year of tears, isolation, and humiliation strengthened my faith in Christ. I still have the scars from those moments, but the testimony of God’s working in the midst of the hardship.

Just like my example, many times we associate bullies with childhood, but this occurs at any age. Webster’s Dictionary defines bullying as “abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful, etc” This could be racism, sexism, communism, or narcissism. We see the mistreatment of others all around us in the world today. What hits even harder is when we realize that we are the bullies too. As sinners, somewhere along the way, we have abused and mistreated someone who was more vulnerable. We have hurt, gossiped, and dominated our fellow family, friends, and community. So as we look at Scripture about bullying, let us remember that we may have been the victims, but we have also been the initiators. The grace of Christ is more than sufficient for us, so it is more than enough for those who persecute.

Proverbs 12:8 says, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Matthew 10:28 says, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

2 Corinthians 12:10 says, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Psalm 118:13-14 says, “I was pushed hard,[a] so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”

What Bullying Reveals about Our Sinful Condition

Bullying reveals that humanity is prideful. Anyone who feels the need to bring others down in order to be elevated is self-focused and painfully wrong. When we are close-minded to the lives of other people and put ourselves on a pedestal, we are imbalanced.

Why Does the Bible Encourage Us to Stick Up for Others?

I will never forget having a bottom locker in my fifth-grade year. An older boy in seventh grade chose to open his locker and hit my head. It was completely cruel, but my older sister nearby stood up to him. Even though it was an unfortunate scenario, having a sister who would stand up for me meant the world. We get to be those advocates for others, but we can only be those helpers if we intentionally open our eyes to the injustices going on around us.

Psalm 41:1 says, Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.”

Zechariah 7:9 says, “This is what the LORD Almighty said: Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.’”

If you are a parent or teacher, in particular, you have a unique opportunity to be an advocate. Paul Coughlin from Crosswalk shares, “The American Psychological Association estimates that a shocking 90 percent of fourth through eighth graders report being victims of some form of bullying.”

This past year there was a boy in the upper elementary class I was assisting. He was bullying other students in the classroom and even getting physically harmful. I spent time one on one talking with him and praying for him. It was amazing to see how he changed over a couple of months and started taking on leadership and learning to be a good friend. It was not that he had bad parents or was even a bad kid, but he was making decisions out of his own insecurities. The truth is that I believed he was bullied at his previous school. We have to be careful not to treat others in the harmful ways in which we ourselves have been treated.

So what do you do if your child is being bullied? My suggestion is to pray, talk with them, and create healthy outlets for their pain, and talk through how God loves them and what He might be teaching them in this. Walt Larimore, M.D. from Crosswalk shares, “But there seems to be a link between these responses and violent music, movies, and video games, which often buttress feelings of low self-esteem and even encourage self-destructive behavior. Many such forms of entertainment elevate violence as an appropriate payback for bullying. As parents, we must evaluate if these forms of entertainment are igniting an already bitter fixation-like pouring gasoline on a smoldering fire.”

As we train up our children, it is vital that we teach them that they have honor with Christ that cannot be taken away from them. Whether they are rejected by others or shamed by them, their identity is secure in the Lord. If young people can believe this and live this, think about how impactful these young people will be, especially as they grow into adults in societies. This trying time can teach them to trust what is true of God and of them no matter what is happening.

Christian Responses to Bullying that Follow Scripture

We can Pray for those who are Bullying Us 

Matthew 5:43-48: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers,[a] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Remember that God is Always with Us

Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Choose Kindness

Matthew 5:38-41You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”

Be an Advocate for Others

Psalm 82:4: “Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

Whether you are being a bully or being bullied, God loves you. For the victim, know that this is not wasted in God’s kingdom, but please share your struggles and find an advocate. For the bully, maybe you are feeling convicted that you have been playing the role of a bully in someone else’s life? Make it right today. Don’t wait to extend an apology and reconcile. Our Lord loves reconciliation and models it countless times. For those passionate about advocating on behalf of others, be patient. Remember that situations do not change overnight, but your efforts in changing lives for the better matter. You are a voice for the voiceless and a light in the dark places.

It is easy to allow fear to overtake us in these circumstances, but may we remember, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). He can use even the hardest relationships to bring forth our good and His glory.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/MachineHeadz

Emma DanzeyEmma Danzey’s mission in life stems from Ephesians 3:20-21, inspiring young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. She is wife to Drew for over two years and mom to baby Graham. Drew and Emma serve with Upstate CRU college ministry in South Carolina. Emma is an avid writer for Salem Web Network and provides articles on the Bible, life questions, and on the Christian lifestyle. Her article on Interracial Marriage was the number 1 viewed article on Crosswalk for the year 2021. All the glory to the Lord! She had the joy of hosting Her Many Hats podcast where she explored the many roles that women play while serving One God. Most recently, Emma has released her first Bible Study Book, Wildflower: Blooming Through Singleness.

Emma enjoys singing/songwriting, fitness classes, trying new recipes, home makeover shows, and drinking tea! During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Emma also had the privilege of having been a national spokesperson for Mukti Mission based out of India. Mukti has been working to restore shattered lives in India for over 120 years. You can view her articles through her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com and check out her Bible Study videos on Instagram @Emmadanzey.