Friday, March 20, 2015

Speak No Evil

There is a disturbing trend on the rise in churches and among believers lately. There are some who have even given it a name and call it a "ministry". I will neither credit them nor their so called ministry here by mention, because I find that within the pages of scripture it is a  grievance to God. Suffice to say, as Christians we are admonished over and over in the Bible not to gossip, bear tales, bear false witness, or unjustifiably criticize others.  As students of the Bible, and disciples of Christ, we know better.  It is simply not to be done. 

And yet. And yet, we do it anyways, blithely draping it in the a cloak of spirituality. Call it what you will. But it's wrong.  Whether it's criticizing a fellow church member, or a man on television, it's equally, unarguably wrong.  There are scores of references, examples, and admonitions all throughout the pages of scripture.  We will explore a few here.

Perhaps I should back up and give some personal anecdote here.  I have sat in both the seat of the scornful and of the scorned. Neither is a good place to be.  Years ago I was one of those fist pumping spiritual giants, ready to level the title "heretic" on any who challenged my paradigm.  The Spirit of God raged against me about it one day. Yes I use that term, because it is perhaps the only time in my Christian walk He has been anything other than gentle with me.

He began by asking me questions.  When God begins asking questions of you, it's already time to repent.  He Asked me what my qualifications were for judging His ministers, and my level of expertise on the subject of heresy.  Obviously I was found wanting in both areas.  After His dealing with my heart, I had to acknowledge that I should explore the truths that were at the core of these "heresies" rather than throw out the baby with the bathwater.  I agreed, but only if He would guide me and keep me from stumbling and falling into error myself.  He readily ratified the deal saying, "I can do that".

Well of course He can.

And He did.

Now I am not here as a shill for any preacher, small or great, or any televangelist, no matter how outlandish some may find them.  Their ministries do not rise or fall  based on our opinions of them.  I am here to change MY heart and to do things right.  Perhaps I can persuade others to join me along this journey.

One of the watershed verses concerning this issue for me over the years has been this:

Romans 14:4 KJVS
[4] Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

Now before someone cries "context!"  This passage is found where the writer is dealing with dietary preferences.  Some were deriding others and judging them as nonspiritual or unholy because of what they ate or didn't eat.  Isn't scripture likened to food in many places? Bread? Milk? Meat? 

May I be so bold to suggest that as long as a person's faith is in Jesus Christ, that it's none of your business how he worships?  As long as he is saved and is earnestly doing the best he can to live according to his convictions, he is a servant of The Master.  whether he stands or falls is decided by his own relationship to God.

He's not like us!

Mark 9:38-39 KJVS
[38] And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. [39] But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. [40] For he that is not against us is on our part.

Luke 9:49 KJVS
[49] And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. [50] And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

This problem has been around since before TV and televangelists.  It's in our sinful nature.  In my grandparents day it was the Baptists against the Methodists, the Lutherans against the Pentecostals, etc. etc. Nowadays its local churches. individuals and even big so-called ministries tearing at some big name, and for what?  It occurred even in Christ's own following. He told them to just leave them alone.  It's none of your business.

Gasp! John was the beloved disciple.  Yet Jesus corrected him in most certain terms.  Are we easily corrected by the Spirit?  I pray so.

He's Meddling!

John 21:20-23 KJVS
[20] Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? [21] Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do ? [22] Jesus saith unto him,
If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. [23] Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

The message here is very clear.  Jesus wants all His followers to stay focused on their own calling, not someone else's.  Altogether too often we fall into that trap of worrying about what everyone else is doing.  But Jesus simply commands, "follow thou me".  

Pretty simple, but oh how we transgress!

Heavy Stuff Here...  

Jude 1:8-9 KJVS
[8] Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. [9] Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

Everyone should read the book of Jude periodically.  This small, but powerful book has sent me to the altar of repentance many many times.  In verse eight, he is continuing a thought; speaking of those in churches who practice and speak evil. Yes. Evil.  The archangel refused to use this practice even on Satan! Yet we easily and glibly without forethought speak against people who are made in God's image all the time.

It's a grievous thing.

What's even more grievous is the time we spend on it, when we could be speaking of the Lord.

In our household we have renewed our commitment to flee far away from these practices.  Further, to have no part in it when it is being done in our presence. Put no evil before thine eye, as the scripture tells us. Sometimes that evil is closer than we think.

This may bring persecution on us. We may be rejected of men.  This is typical of the life of a follower of Jesus.  But we are determined. We will overcome.

Will you?

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