As you all are well aware of by now, our ministry helps people on their Christian journey out of the Word of Faith/prosperity gospel movement– a movement that proclaims that the blood of Jesus has purchased for all believers a promised life of health, wealth, and abundance in earthly pleasures. This is a dangerously false message and undermines the beauty of the finished work of Christ that brings justification and forgiveness. The teachings in this movement can truly shipwreck someone’s faith- we ourselves were ensnared by this false teaching, so it is something we are very passionate to defend against and proclaim truth whenever possible.
On this ministry journey, we have met others who share a similar passion as we do to help protect others from wolves in sheep’s clothing. Taking strong stances against popular teachers who are in the public eye means there will be some who are not thrilled for your ministry. Having others to link arms with to stand against false teaching online makes the pushback easier to handle as well as emboldens you to continue to warn of error and proclaim truth. You can imagine how one might feel when one of those people who stood strong with you warning of these false teachers suddenly turns back and begins embracing those wolves as brothers in Christ. We can tell you from personal experience, it is gut-wrenching to witness and walk through. The temptation that we have faced in this experience- especially after they would not heed warning or correction- is to want to back this person into a corner and expose them and their seemingly manipulative tactics as well.
Any situation that stirs up strong emotional responses- especially that of hurt, offense, and disappointment- needs the direction and wisdom of scripture to bring clarity to those intense and very valid emotions. We must not allow our flesh to rule in the situation. When we are being led by the Spirit, it means that we are putting to death the ways of the flesh because the sins and desires of the flesh are against the Spirit.
This is not a passive or mysterious “leading” or “subjective feeling” but rather an active, ever-present fight in the life of the believer to learn what it means to walk in love, be gracious and merciful, and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. Thankfully, we as disciples of Christ are not left to human subjectivity and confusion in this leading; We have God’s word as a lamp to our feet in a world of darkness and sin (Psalm 119:105).
As far as putting to death the desire to slander, malign, or be harsh to those who have seemingly wronged us, disappointed us, or intentionally (or unintentionally hurt us), the scripture that comes to mind that both brings conviction and direction can be found in 1 Peter 4:
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8, ESV).
When I am tempted to expose someone’s wrong-doing or sin towards me or others, the Bible urges me to love them by covering them with grace and mercy instead. For us, one way that we applied this to our situation that we discussed earlier is that we deleted screenshots that were being saved of the hurtful and error-filled things that had been said online. We were attempting to build a case against this person- to truly “put them in their place.” But ultimately, we needed to pray for this individual and watch our words about them to others. Instead of “stalking” their ministry page online, we chose to unfollow and mute their posts (even if for a season) because it was causing bitterness and a cynical attitude to rise up in our hearts about them. In those moments when we are hurt, upset, or offended, we must extend grace, which doesn’t mean that we don’t loving rebuke, correct, or warn, when necessary, because that is also extending love towards others. But after that difficult confrontation has taken place, we must release that situation to the Lord, and He will be the One to vindicate if we truly have been wronged or sinned against. We need to rest in His sovereignty and trust that He will work in that person’s heart as well as ours as He teaches us to truly love others like He does. Above all, we must remember that every person is made in the image of God and they deserve love and respect no matter their actions or words towards us.
May the love and mercy that has been given to us from the Lord flow to the most difficult of people in our life.