Have you noticed that there has been a lot of talk lately about bullies? Movies have been made about them, our school counselors are equipped to deal with victims of bullying, and even our Kindergartners know what a cyber-bully is! If you have been the victim of bullying-I know the very word can give you an upset stomach. Having lived next door to a bully for years now, let me tell you some things that I have learned about them. Believe me, it has not been an easy road, but I feel that God’s Word is there to equip us for everything-even bullies. Remember the words in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “there is nothing new under the sun.” God’s people were bullied in the past, and bullies are still around today.
I think it is important to keep things in perspective when we deal with bullies. 2 Timothy 3:12 tells us, “And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” We cannot live in this world and expect to get along with everyone all the time. What helps me to understand why bullies do what they do is that heathens will act like heathens. I cannot expect my neighbor to treat me in a godly way when he is not a Christian. What is crucial for me is that I do not return his bitterness. “And the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the Truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:24-26. Satan has the bullies right where he wants them-in his deceptive hold. They, of all people, need to be pitied. Perhaps, by our godly response to them, they will turn from their wicked ways and seek God’s favor. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not.” Romans 12:14
Stephen was such a humble example of this in Acts 7:60 when he asks that the Lord “not hold this sin against them.” He is asking on behalf of those who are actively stoning him. Of course this faithful martyr had followed the example of the Lord and Savior in Luke 23:34. It takes a godly spirit to be able to pray for those who are persecuting us. I had to pray for a long time to ask for God’s help in seeing the “big picture” in my bullying situation. I was angry and scared of this bully, and frankly the last thing I would do is to take his name to the Lord. Then I would calm down and go the Word and read the amazing examples of faith, and realize how I needed to turn things around in my thinking. 2 Kings 6 is such an encouragement to me. The story begins with the king of Aram. He is wanting to conquer the nation of Israel, and God’s prophet Elisha keeps warning them of the attacks. The king is so angry that he is determined to kill Elisha. Elisha and his servant have “holed up” in the town of Dothan. The servant has risen early one morning and has gone outside and seen that the horses and chariots of Aram have surrounded the city. He is distraught and says, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” (vs. 15) Elisha answers, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them. Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the Lord opened the servants eyes, and he saw; and behold; the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (vs. 16-17) Wouldn’t you have loved to see the expression on the servants’ face?! He thought they were outnumbered and alone, and God showed him differently. What an awesome God we serve!
Whenever I feel like I am alone or being bullied, I need to get in the Word and remember His promises. Hebrews 13:5b, “for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?” Keep in the forefront of our minds that as our Heavenly Father, He is watching over us. 2 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” Daniel was protected all night in the lions’ den (Daniel 6:22) and also we see His angel sent to encase Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego from the fiery furnace (Daniel 3). The same Lord who protected the faithful in ancient times-still watches over us today. We are also told that His angels are still at work for the saints, to “render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation.” Hebrews 1:13-14
As Christians, in order to be a “light” to others, the way we react to someone, especially when they are being cruel to us, will make an impression on them, whether they realize it or not. After all, we have heard that “we may be the only Bible that they will ever read.” Let’s let the Lord use us to teach others. “Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them.” Matthew 7:12
A war of words can be described as two people throwing darts at one another. Sooner or later, if you quit “throwing darts” back at them, they will run out of ammunition. When my neighbor was bullying me, for me to treat him the same way, would be putting myself on his plane, and giving him more “darts.” Essentially, I would become a bully too. We have a superior example to follow, “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with paitence? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you and example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” 1 Peter 2:20-23
Let’s keep our hearts fully devoted to God. He will be the judge, jury, and the One who hands out the sentence of where we spend eternity. He will judge the bullies, along with us. As for my neighbor, it seems that all the curses he wished on me, have come back on him. He has divorced his wife, lost custody of some of his children, lost his company, and his home is for sale. I do pray for him, that he will turn his life around and live for the Lord before he meets Him face to face.
Robin serves with the South Twin Cities congregation in Rosemount, Minnesota, where her husband serves as an evangelist. She feels extremely blessed to have seven children, and eight grandchildren with two more on the way!