The Word of God! It says that any time I strike out against a fellow believer, I am actually hurting myself. Look at John 17 and you’ll see what I mean. There Jesus prayed for all of us who would ever believe on Him: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (verse 21). It doesn’t matter how much believers may try to separate themselves from each other theologically, the biblical truth is that we are all one. First Corinthians 12 puts it this way, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.... And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it” (verses 12-13, 26).
Once you understand that, you’ll realize there’s simply no way to cut another Christian down to size without diminishing yourself at the same time. Therefore, you’ll be able to more easily resist the temptation to lash out against your critics.
God Himself will take up your defense if you’ll stand in faith on His promise in Isaiah 54:17. It says, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.”
I pray for those who come against me. I don’t want them to get hurt and I know most of them are simply being deceived, so I say, “Lord, open the eyes of that person’s understanding. Don’t let this situation destroy that child of God. Reveal to them the truth and bring us into unity.”
I’ll be honest with you, that’s not my natural, fleshly reaction. If I didn’t yield to the Holy Spirit, I’d just say, “Well, that old boy deserves to get his hands slapped good. I hope God gets him back for how he’s treated me!”
But I can’t do that because Romans 15:7 says we’re to “receive one another, as Christ also received us.” How did Jesus, our Anointed Savior, receive us? In grace! He responded to us according to His love and His shed blood—not according to what we deserved.
Since the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5), we have the power within us to respond to our critics in grace too! And if we’ll do it, God will work powerfully among us.