Which type are you? There are those who bully, those who get bullied, and those who witness bullying. Most of us, if not all of us, fit into one or more of these categories at one time or another. Perhaps you have participated in bullying without setting out to do so. Maybe you have been on the receiving end of bullying and it got out of control. Maybe you are aware of bullying happening to someone else right now and you are a witness with the power to make a difference. That’s who I want to speak to right now. In my day we had bullies too, but something is different about this generation. With the advent of technology that didn’t exist 20 years ago—except in Star Trek—bullies have acquired a powerful tool. When I was in school, I was teased and picked on from time to time. I was pushed around, laughed at, and intimidated. But, there is a difference in the bullying dynamic between then and now. I believe it is partly do to the fading influence of the Church on our culture that has resulted in increasing disregard for God and disrespect for others. Another major factor is the anonymity and ease of access that this new technology affords. As a teen, when I was picked on, I could leave the name-calling, harsh words, and threats at school and go home. Today, the bullying follows you—on facebook, on twitter, via text message, and even on instagram and youtube. This is called cyber-bullying which is difficult, and maybe impossible, to escape.
If you are aware of bullying taking place in your circles, you can be a positive influence to put a stop to this evil behavior. The first thing you need to do is realize this is not something that only happens in the physical, natural realm. There is a spiritual element to bullying and you must be aware of it. Remember, “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12 NLT). The next thing you need to do is prepare yourself for the battle. Put on the armor which God has given you. You can also find it in Ephesians 6. You know, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of good news, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation. And never leave home without your sword—the Word of God—it’s the only weapon you have. Make sure you are familiar with your sword and know how to use it. Your Bible contains truth that applies to every aspect of life—including bullying—and it has the power to demolish the work of our real enemy.
Here is a list of scripture verses that apply to the bullies, the bullied, and the witnesses. You’ll be amazed at how relevant God’s Word is.
2 Timothy 1:7 NLT: For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
Deuteronomy 31:6 VOICE: Be strong and brave, and don’t tremble in fear of them, because the Eternal your God is going with you. He’ll never fail you or abandon you!
Psalm 18:3 VOICE: I call out to the Eternal, who is worthy to be praised—that’s how I will be rescued from my enemies.
1 John 3:15 NLT: Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.
1 John 2:9 ESV: Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.
Proverbs 6:16-19 VOICE: Take note, there are six things the Eternal hates; no, make it seven He abhors: eyes that look down on others, a tongue that can’t be trusted, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that conceives evil plans, feet that sprint toward evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and anyone who stirs up trouble among the faithful.
Ephesians 4:29 VOICE: Don’t let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them.
Romans 12:18 VOICE: If it is within your power, make peace with all people.
Proverbs 12:18 VOICE: Thoughtless words cut deeply like a thrusting sword, but the speech of the wise is a healing balm.
Psalm 82:4 NIV: Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
1 Corinthians 13:6-7 NIV: Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Micah 6:8 VOICE: No. He has told you, mortals, what is good in His sight. What else does the Eternal ask of you but to live justly and to love kindness and to walk with your True God in all humility?
Psalm 1:1 NIV: Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.
If you have witnessed bullying, if you have a friend who talks about people, if you know someone who is on the receiving end of harsh words and mean acts, then it is time to prepare for battle and do what’s right. Pray for the hurt and injured, pray for the bullies, and fight against the real enemy with the truth of God’s Word. Pray for influence among your friends so you can be a light and stop bullying at the source. Refuse to participate in gossip and hurtful activity. Even if it makes you unpopular or causes you to lose a friend—even if the bully turns on you—trust in God and stand strong. Notify adults and appropriate authority. Do what you can to end the suffering of a broken soul. Then befriend the wounded and share the love of Christ. Who knows? You may be the one that God uses to save a life.