5 Victorious Ways to Respond When Others Attack You
- Jennifer Slattery JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com
- 2022 26 Apr
Scripture tells us that we can’t simultaneously live for God and seek to please those on earth. In fact, He took this a step further, promising that if we truly seek to follow Him, others will hate us. They’ll mock, misjudge and mistreat us, and on occasion, issue an all-out attack. Perhaps you know this from experience. You might even feel bombarded by hate and injustice in this current season. Maybe you’re growing weary and have contemplated, more than once, simply giving up in the battle of good versus evil, love versus hate, and joy versus despair. Or maybe you’re tempted to retaliate, seeking to conquer your earthly foes by surrendering to the enemy of your soul.
I imagine we’ve all battled both responses many times, and I’m equally certain we will do so again. It’s discouraging, tiring, and painful trying to live for Jesus in a world diabolically opposed to everything He commands and represents. But we mustn’t become casualties to this war raging against our souls. By God’s power and grace, He calls us to rise above.
Here are 5 ways we can overcome every brutal attack we face as we actively advance against darkness with light:
Photo Credit: ©Massonstock
1. Remain Alert to the Spiritual Battle.Slide 1 of 4
Most of us recognize, at least from a theological perspective, the spiritual battle that rages all around us. Perhaps we’ve read verses and books and listened to numerous messages discussing the cosmic powers of darkness that seek to steal, kill, and destroy every good and perfect gift provided by our loving Father (John 10:10). We may even recognize the supernatural components of our friend’s and family’s problems. It’s more challenging to maintain a spiritual perspective, however, when we find ourselves under assault. In those instances, it’s much easier to focus on the human through which the blows come.
But we won’t experience victory by getting caught up in the fallout. This will only lead to discouragement, weakened knees, and unsteady footing. We can shift our stance from the defensive to the offensive, however, when we view every encounter through a Christ-led and Holy Spirit-informed perspective.
The Ephesus church was experiencing persecution, conflicts with one another, and battling their own sinful desires. Wanting to encourage them to remain strong, Paul, a first-century church leader wrote, “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” (Philippians 6:12, NIV).
Perhaps the Ephesians recognized this when evaluating the actions of Emperor Nero or the false teachers seeking power within their midst. But what about when it came to the hurtful words spoken by those in their Bible study groups and friend circles? Or the harmful choices their bosses made?
To rise above every blow with effectiveness, confidence, and peace, we must ask ourselves those same questions. Are we viewing our circumstances with clarity and depth or have we allowed the temporary struggle to blindsight, distract, and deceive us?
Listen to Faith Over Fear episode 99 to learn more about the spiritual battle involved in every attack.
2. Trust in God's FaithfulnessSlide 2 of 4
Sometimes it feels as if our culture rewards the wicked while penalizing the righteous. This was precisely how the Israelites living during the time of Malachi felt. In chapter 2 verse 17 we read, “You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, ‘How have we wearied Him?’ In that you say, ‘Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them,’ or, ‘Where is the God of justice?’” (NASB).
This was about 100 years after what scholars refer to as the Babylonian exile, a painful period when they lived under enemy rule in a foreign land. After 70 years, in His mercy, God redeemed and restored them. They returned to Jerusalem, rebuilt its walls and temple, and waited in expectation for the long-promised Messiah. Only He didn’t come, and wickedness once again pervaded the community. Filtering their view of God through their circumstances, many determined God’s faithfulness had failed. The people’s disappointment and pain soon turned to disillusionment, then complete apathy toward the things of God.
He responded by affirming His love (Mal. 1:2), His power and sovereignty (Mal. 1:11), and His covenant of life to which He’d proven Himself faithful throughout the generations. Then, He reiterated His oft-repeated vow to send them a Savior, stating, “‘Behold, I am sending My messenger, and he will clear a way before Me. And the Lord, whom you are seeking, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,’ says the Lord of armies” (3:1, NASB). He added in verse 6, “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, the sons of Jacob, have not come to an end’” (NIV).
This passage reminds us of a few things. First, it tells us God’s people weren’t ready to experience a personal encounter with Christ. They needed someone, John the Baptist, to prepare the way. Notice as well, God assured them that He, the Lord of armies, Jehovah Sabaoth, would come to them personally. As verse 6 clearly states, His faithfulness wasn’t dependent on them. Instead, it came from His steadfast mercy and grace.
Scripture urges us to hold tight to these same truths. You and I belong to the God of heaven’s armies, the One who sees all, knows all, and maintains complete control over all, our lives included. And He’s promised to bring justice, to reward His beloved.
He sees every tear, hears every desperate cry, and promises to use everything we experience for our good. Remembering this helps us endure today while we patiently wait for the paradise we know is yet to come.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Thomas Bullock
3. Know His Light Will One Day Reveal AllSlide 3 of 4
Often when I speak to women in leadership positions, whether as volunteers or on staff, they share wounds caused by the malice of others. Inevitably, someone who became upset with a decision tried to exert power through gossip and slander. Those under attack felt conflicted by two opposing desires: They wanted to rise above the ugliness, to trust God to protect and defend them, and to display the sacrificial and humble love of Christ. Yet they often battled against their insecurities as well—the fears that triggered defensive postures and a strong fight-or-flight desire.
What if their foes turned others against them? What if, in the growing vortex of half-truths, accusations, and lies, they lost their job?
At some point, we will find ourselves in the same position and might feel conflicted regarding how best to respond. How can we show the love of Christ in a way that is healthy and Spirit-led?
Only God knows the perfect response for each situation because His perspective goes much deeper and remains clear when ours doesn't. But we can trust Him to lead us and to vindicate us in His perfect timing and perfect way. Therefore, as we wait, we hold tight to the truth in Luke 8:17, when Jesus said, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open."
4. Surrender to God’s Transforming Hand
In Romans 8:28, God promises to use everything we face for our ultimate good. If we continue reading through verse 30, Scripture tells us our “good” refers to our spiritual growth. We have been predestined, in Christ, to become more like Him—more like the whole, healed, strong, loving, and free image-bearers He created us to be. This often involves three divinely orchestrated processes where God reveals then purges those things, like sin, deception, and soul-deep hurts, that hinder our freedom.
We receive healing and increased wholeness when we turn to God in the middle of our pain, seek His perspective, rest in His love, and yield to His leading. It’s often our most painful moments that lead to divine revelation and deeper intimacy with Christ.
5. Rest In God's Power and PlansSlide 4 of 4
As a ministry leader who’s served in countless roles over the years, from children’s to family and women’s, I’ve been hurt numerous times by the malice and unbridled tongues of others. (While many place the church on a pedestal of perfection, Christians aren't immune to being trapped in the sinful cycle of tearing down others.) I’ve encountered those who seemed intent on turning others against me and defaming my name. At times it felt as if they were succeeding.
Perhaps you’ve been there too. Maybe you’ve had those you once called friends believe the lies spoken against you, and you felt abandoned, misjudged, and rejected. Maybe you even began to doubt your calling or feared your supervisor would ask you to step down. Perhaps that’s how you feel now.
In those moments when anxious thoughts run through your head, remember this: God has an amazing and eternally impactful plan for you, and His plan remains firm, etched in His Book of Life long before you were born (Psalm 139:16). Your enemies will not and cannot sabotage the good God has planned. To the contrary, our all-powerful, faithful God will use their most targeted attacks to mold you into a spiritual powerhouse that radiates Christ.
Jesus told us we would live in a hostile, chaotic, and hateful world where people call good evil and evil good, where brother turns against brother, and father against son. But He also promised that, in Him, you and I would overcome. We are far from victims, friend. We’re victorious conquerors chosen, molded, and empowered by God’s victorious Son.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/skyNext