Stuff you should know: When you are harassed and bullied.
Almost everyone has experienced harassment or bullying at some point in their lives. You can be bullied for your appearance, your gender, your ethnicity, your financial status, your abilities or disabilities, or even your faith.
Something To Talk About:
When you hear the word bullying what comes to mind? Is it the locker room from high school? Faces of middle school kids? Comments at the workplace? In this message, we will give you seven ways you can respond to bullies in a way that honors God.
- The real problem with a bully: “We are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world” (Ephesians 6:12 GNT). Bullying is more common than we would like. When you or your children face this kind of behavior, it’s important to recognize the source behind the bully. “We are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world” (Ephesians 6:12 GNT). The bully is just being used by Satan. You’re not fighting against human beings. You’re fighting against wicked spiritual forces. All evil and hatred come from Satan. And he can use anybody who doesn’t know the Lord because they don’t have God’s Spirit in them. You may not have the power to stop that bully, but God does. Always start with prayer. That’s where you get God’s power to fight the spiritual forces at work around you.
- Remember who you are: We belong to God. So you have won the victory over these people because “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (See 1 John 4:4 NIV). If you are a Christian, then you are a son or daughter of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You are a part of God’s family. You were created in His image. God loves you. He made you for a purpose, and He has a plan for your life. You need to remember who you are when you’re harassed or bullied. You are not what other people say you are. You are who God says you are. God always speaks the truth, and it is the truth that sets you free and gives you confidence and courage. God is your Creator. Jesus died for you. The Holy Spirit lives in you. You have the Trinity behind you. You don’t have to worry about bullies, because bullies have no real power over you.
- Refuse to retaliate: “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing” (1 Peter 3:9). When you’re persecuted, harassed, and face opposition, you need to respond with a blessing. Who does that?! Not many people. It’s what sets Christians apart because it’s not a natural, popular, or easy response. It takes a lot of courage to do those things! Any fool can fight back. Anyone can fight back. Anyone can retaliate. Anyone can respond with something mean.” When you refuse to retaliate and instead respond in love at work or with somebody who doesn’t like you, God will be pleased. And you’re going to be blessed.
- Respond positively: The Bible says in Luke 6:27-28, “Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (NIV). Notice these three verbs: “do good,” “bless,” and “pray for.” A big part of forgiveness is responding positively to evil with good. Theologian Charles Spurgeon said, “God is near, and therefore hope is near.” Christians have the certainty of God’s nearness. We have the opportunity to respond positively and reflect the love, goodness, grace, and glory of Christ to a broken world. It is difficult to relinquish your right to get even and respond to evil with good. The only way to do that is to be filled with the love of Jesus Christ.
- Refocus on what God says it means: When everything around you is uncertain, the key to stability is to focus on unchangeable truth. You need to focus on what never changes: God’s Word and God’s character. Being bullied and harassed causes fear, frustration, anxiety, or anger. These are things the enemy uses as a strategy to shake us up. You see, satan knows that if we take our eyes off the things of the Lord, then our eyes will be focused on what he has distracted us to see. The Lord says that we should “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9). When we focus our eyes and think of Him, we have peace. We have joy. We will not be shaken.
- Remember my reward: The secret of endurance is to remember that your pain is temporary but your reward will be eternal. In Matthew 6:19-20, Jesus says, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal” There are only two things that will last forever: the Word of God and people. Philippians 4:17 says, “Though I appreciate your gifts, what makes me happiest is the well-earned reward you will have because of your kindness.” (TLB) Paul wrote to the Philippians to express his appreciation for their support. But he said what meant the most—what brought him the most joy—was knowing that their sacrifice and generosity gave them treasure in heaven. They invested in him, but they also invested in their eternal home. We too should look for ways to invest in our eternal home even when we are being harassed or bullied.
- Remain Faithful: In Revelation 2:12-17, Jesus encourages the church to remain faithful in the face of the enemy’s schemes. Though we’re in the world, we are not destined to fall into the world’s traps. We live in a time of uncertainty. We live in a culture that allures and entangles. No matter what arrows are thrown at you, no matter what you suffer in this life because of your faith, God wants you to remain faithful to Him and keep on doing good to others. Is that easy to do? Not always. Does it take faith? Definitely. Is it worth it? Absolutely, because God is guiding you to becoming more like Jesus.
- How would you tell another adult at work to respond to a bully? What would you say to your child?
- In what ways does your perspective shift when you see the spiritual forces at work behind bullying?
- How does prayer connect us to God’s power?
- What has your faith cost you — and have you ever regretted that cost?
- How do you handle insults or rejection because of your faith? How has your faith been shaped by choosing to respond in love and not with retaliation — or by watching other Christians respond that way?
- Think of a current situation in which you are facing opposition. What would success look like if you prayed and believed, “The God of heaven will help me succeed”?
- Which of God’s character traits can bring you comfort and hope while you experience trials?
- How do we remember our ultimate rewards when faced with bullying or harassment? How can we remain faithful during those times?
Take One Thing Home with You:
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. God can use even the hardest relationships to bring forth our good and His glory.