Thursday, September 27, 2007

GOSSIP AND THE HEARERS RESPONSIBLITY

FOURTH IN A SERIES


Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 Also take not heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee: for oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.


You were hoping I wouldn't go there weren't you? Well, I did and we will provided you keep on reading. What is the responsibility of the listener when gossip is spoken? Oh, I know. The listener is to REBUKE the speaker and PUT THEM IN THEIR PLACE. Well, lets at least look at this passage before we make that assumption.

The first phrase IS NOT a command to hear what you like and ignore the rest. Rather, it is telling us to not pay attention to the babbling of others and babbling in general. Why? Because if you listen to all of the babbling and grumbling and complaining, you will hear your servant curse you and if you act against that grumbling and babbling, you are setting yourself in a higher moral plane than others and the reason is clear that that cannot be done. YOU likewise have cursed others in your vain babblings as well. We are condemned by our own actions if we condemn all actions of the other.

What does this have to do with Gossip? The hearer of such needs to filter what is heard. In other words, perhaps the one speaking the gossip is doing it out of anger and hurt feelings and on any other normal day, would not have said so much. Perhaps they are just babbling things about when they should have just kept their mouth shut. We are not speaking about those who are intentionally trying to stir up strife. We are speaking about those who, for whatever reason, are just "spouting off". The listener/hearer then should not make any judgment calls about the subject of the speech then. We have said things we do not mean before. We have said things out loud that we wish we had not said before. We have put our mouth in motion without having our wisdom in gear before have we not? Thus we are to use great wisdom in this situation. Sometimes, we just need to let it, the gossip, fall to the ground when we consider the source of the speech. We do not need to have an answer for all the babblings around and we certainly do not need to be correcting EVERY babbling we hear. We too say things when we are upset or discouraged or the likes.

So to the listener/hearer/over hearer of such things, sometimes, we need to just drop it and let it go. What they said may hurt and what they said may be wrong. But you and I have done the same thing to others when in reality, we were speaking off the cuff or on the spur of the moment or on a whim of emotion and not that our failures make theirs acceptable, rather, we give and grant room for forgiveness and understanding all the while knowing that if it were not for that same forgiveness, our own heart would be under condemnation as it must readily admit that we ourselves have done likewise.

May God grant us the wisdom to be as wise as serpents but as harmless as doves.


For the first in this series, go HERE.
For the second in this series, go HERE.
For the third in this series, go HERE.

Monday, September 24, 2007

GOSSIP: ABIDING IN GOD'S PRESENCE

THIRD OF A SERIES

Psalm 15:1-3 LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in they holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.

The focus of this little series has been on the concept of gossip. This particular passage considers this concept from the position of personal holiness. Introspection is what few of us really enjoy doing. We tend to want to think better of ourselves than we should. At times, we miss the obvious beam in our own eye while pointing out the sawdust in another's. Motivation for doing so varies from individual to individual and occasion to occasion. Perhaps we have been offended and we are wanting to "even the score". In other words, personal vendettas rule the moment. We are warned against taking vengeance into our own hands when in fact the Scriptures testify that vengeance belongs to the Lord. That passage can be read in Romans 12:19-21. But if our goal be personal holiness or rather, a sanctified daily walk, we need to consider OURSELVES rather than the other person. This Psalm considers that gossip is a hindrance or a defiling of such personal holiness. If abiding in the presence of the Lord is what one truly desires, then there truly is NO PLACE for gossip in that life.

Verse two of this passage is very positive and speaks of that which should be done. However, even if that were done on a human level, there are certain things that should be avoided as well. In fact, it could be argued that there is no way that you could practice verse 2 WITHOUT practicing verse 3. Paul, in the book of Romans parallels the two ideas when he said that those things he should not do he does and those things that he should do he does not. The point being that they are not mutually exclusive. You cannot have sanctification without BOTH being practiced rightly.

Verse three is where I have been driving for and it is comprised of three things that SHOULD NOT be done. The word backbiteth is also translated as slander. The word basically means to go about on the feet. In some instances, it means to spy out. Thus one goes about on his feet in search of whatever information is sought. However, in this passage and in 2 Samuel 19:28, it is used of slander. A person goes about on foot(traverses the internet) in order to bring a false message or even a message of truth that is meant to "destroy" the particular individual that it is lodged against. This phrase is closely tied with the next in that the one who wants to abide or dwell does not "do evil" to his neighbor. Jesus told us who our neighbor is and in this passage of Psalms, we are not to seek the hurt or harm of our neighbor. We are not to seek to do injury to our neighbor. This includes spreading truth under the guise of safeguarding others while our motive is nothing but injury to the individual. Brethren, be sure of this. God knows your heart. He will search you out and reveal you for this. You can say it is for good all the while knowing your heart is evil and yet the audience to whom you speak cannot do much else rather than observing your life and seeking God's wisdom to try the spirits. You may hide behind clouds of religion and piety but you can rest assured, you have not escaped the Light of God. The man who wants to abide with God does not take up a reproach against his neighbor either. Take up means in this passage to take up as with voice, even to carry as your own a reproach, a mocking or scorn of your neighbor. It is wrong to taunt your neighbor but it is especially a hindrance to those who are wanting to have that holy walk that is honoring to God. In blogland, you have seen it as well as I have, that some,not involved in a particular situation, become the most vocal on something they really have no specific knowledge of or relation in a personal way. Too often, under the cover of "our opinion", we are simply passing out slander, gossip or mocking to whoever will listen in order to tear down another or take up a cause against another to defend one we call our own. As one of my seminary professors used to say. "My brothers, these things ought not be so!" Our goal for our neighbor should be to do them good, not cause them harm.

Do you really desire personal holiness and a sanctified walk with God? If that be the case, make sure that you understand that gossip/slander is a hindrance to, not a help with, that walk.

For the first in this series, go HERE.
For the second in this series, go HERE.
For the fourth in this series, go HERE.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

GOSSIP: TRUTH WITH A TWIST

SECOND OF A SERIES


Proverbs 10:18 He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander is a fool.


Already this does not look good does it!? I think it is that fool part at the end which is so disturbing. But hey. It is your choice whether to be one or not simply by keeping your mouth closed or your keyboard silent.

In the first phrase of this verse, we have the word hideth and that is actually the same Hebrew word for concealeth which was looked at in the Proverbs 11 post. The word hatred is more than just a passive dislike. In Numbers 35:20 it is tied to the idea of physical violence. In Ecclesiastes 9:1, it is contrasted with the word love which is more than just an emotion but an emotion that moves one to action. With love, the action is positive. With hate, the action is negative. In this same chapter of Proverbs, once again the word hate is contrasted with love and here we see hatred tied with strife and love with covering. The word lying is in reference to untruth. Such spoken words have no truthful foundation and as such have NO value. In essence, the person full of hatred tries to hide it by telling you all is well. They may even use such phrases as, "you have nothing to worry about", "I have your best interest in mind" or even the worst, "I love you in the Lord" when their heart is decrying just the opposite. The implication is that even though man may not know the heart, God does.

But this verse covers more than just the one who lies to cover hatred. It also speaks of those who spread the truth with a negative twist and/or for ungodly purposes. This word slander is used in Numbers 13:32; 14:36,37. In those passages, it is translated, evil report. Now when you look at their report, they bring back the truth so far as it related to the land. They said it was a land flowing with milk and honey but they also said that the people in the land were giants and great men of statue and the way that they said it was to cause despair upon the people. In fact, their report led the people to murmur. They were not interested in encouraging the people, they were trying to discourage them and to even turn the people against Moses which to a degree was successful. In Genesis 37:2 it is used of Joseph's account to his father about his brothers. It is used in Jeremiah 20:10 where the people were slandering Jeremiah and hoping to catch him in a trap. In Psalm 31:13 slander is once again tied in with the concepts of fear and deceit. Slander may have an element of truth or even be the truth but the purpose in sharing it is to cause fear and grumbling and it would also be a fair statement that those involved in such are usually doing it to cause destruction for those they speak against.

What does the Scripture say about such people? Those who lie to cover the opposite of what they say and those who slander to cause great harm, dissension and destruction? The Bible says they are fools. In Ecclesiastes 2:13-14, the fool is said to be in darkness while the wise is in light. Ecclesiastes 5:1 records that fools act rashly and do evil. In Ecclesiastes 10:2, the fools heart is in his left hand while the wise man's heart is in the right. Proverbs 1:7 tells us that the fool despises wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 10:23 tells us that a fool delights in causing trouble and as such, he is a liability to his circle of influence. In Proverbs 13:20, God warns that being a companion to fools will lead to brokenness and destruction. By no means is this an exhaustive list of the fool. You cannot read Proverbs and Ecclesiastes without noticing the word fool unless of course you are one.

Gossip, particularly of the slanderous sort is meant to be destructive towards those it is spoken of and it will lead to the destruction of those participating in it. It should not be participated in by those who claim the name of Jesus. The epistle of James is truly correct when he notes how such a little member as the tongue can kindle such a great fire. Like a rudder steers a ship, so your tongue steers you. If you are not sure that what you are about to say is slander or gossip, you either need to remain silent in speech or keyboard OR hey, here is a novel idea, try telling them about the love of Jesus instead.


For the first in this series, go HERE.
For the third in this series, go HERE.
For the fourth in this series, go HERE.



*NOTE* The following references were used and are used by this writer.
Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament(1980). Harris, Archer Jr., and Waltke.

The Complete Word Study Dictionary, Old Testament(2003). Baker and Carpenter.

Yes, I know that is not Turabian format. That is one of the neat things about this being my blog.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

GOSSIP: CONFIDENTIAL BROADCASTING

This will be the first of many passages over a series to be examined.

Proverbs 11:12-13 He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace. A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.

In this passage, the most important concept to understand here is that it is a revealing of something that was learned in confidence. That is what the word secrets is referring to in verse 13. This is all about retaining the information one has gained in private counsel by keeping ones' mouth closed/keyboard silent. Private counsel does not mean that they came to you for advice or that you came to them for advice. It simply refers to conversation that was held in private or was confidentially shared. The word talebearer is also very germane to understanding the text as well. Talebearer refers to movement about, usually by a human, without regards to a specific destination. Thus the talebearer is one who tells anything he/she knows wherever he/she goes. The idea of a wandering blabberer(gossiper) seems to fit here. This person will tell anybody anything. Continuing with our little word study here, faithful is indeed operative. It means to build up or support, like parents supporting a child in their arms, thus to nurture is also part of the meaning. The faithful do not seek the destruction of the person who spoke in confidence but rather the welfare of that person. And how does the faithful spirit do that? They conceal the matter. They hide the matter. They cover the matter.

Where do we even begin to address the application of this? These two verses are indeed powerful and govern our speech in a rather specific way. They also address the issue of our heart. Why do we do what we do? OR Why did they do what they did?

1. Do we really love our neighbor as Jesus taught us to love? Do we want to see them fall and destroyed or do we want to see them prosper in the Lord? Beyond saying we want the best for them, is it really for the best or is it what fits our agenda and boosts our own egos?

2. Do we see the information gained from private conversation as a leverage? Do we see the possibility of that information being useful as blackmail in the future?(though we would never call it that)

3. Do we listen to confidential talk just to hear juicy information? Is it titillating to our voyeuristic mind to hear the thoughts of another?

4. Do we use the information we've gained in confidence as a stepping stone to our own whims or desires?

5. Do we really love our neighbor as Christ loved us?

Finally, if you do not really love your neighbor as Christ loved you, then you have an obligation not to listen to one who approaches you in confidence! You have an obligation to warn the person who is talking to you that you are not faithful! But all of that pales in comparison to my next question. Do the words, "well done thou good and faithful servant" mean ANYTHING to you? One of two labels fit you here, either Talebearer or Faithful spirit. Which is it for you?

For the second part of this series go HERE.
For the third part of this series go HERE.
For the fourth part of this series go HERE.



EDITED TO ADD:


*NOTE* The following references were used and are used by this writer.
Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament(1980). Harris, Archer Jr., and Waltke.

The Complete Word Study Dictionary, Old Testament(2003). Baker and Carpenter.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

STATE SENATOR SUES GOD

HERE are the links. HERE and HERE. The last two links add a little more towards how the legal ramifications may work out. He even says he is not trying to be funny in doing this.

Perhaps, like He did with Job, God will visit this Senator. But, since they will not allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed in the court, I doubt they would like the original Writer to appear as well. I bet the local marshal is glad that he will not have to serve God a subpoena since the Senator is willing to admit that God is omniscient and already knows about the suit. Well, I do pray for this Senator that when he eventually meets God, that he will be covered by the blood of Jesus because if he is not, the verdict sentenced upon him will be without appeal.

Friday, September 14, 2007

DOGMA: SATAN, THAT SERPENT OF OLD

In Genesis chapter 3 we find record of the temptation of Eve by the serpent. Just who was this serpent and can we be sure? You did read the title of this post didn't you? I remember over hearing a guy in seminary bragging because he set his Sunday school teacher straight. They were studying Genesis and the teacher made the comment that Satan was the serpent and boy did he correct that teacher, at least in his own mind he did. He was not to be convinced of what the Bible makes so clear. I have heard it said that John MacArthur says, "when you have a question in the Bible, keep reading and you'll eventually find the answer". Again, I am not sure that the statement is attributable to him but in the case of the serpent, it proves itself valid.

Of course you will need your Bible so after getting it out, you will need to read Ezekiel 28:11-19. But brother Luke, that passage is about the king of Tyre you say? Tell me, the description of this king of Tyre, being in the Garden, being a covering cherub, does this sound like a mere mortal to you? No it absolutely does not. Now with a little deduction, let's see, in the Garden originally were God, Adam, Eve, various other unspecified animals but one that is specifically named, The Serpent. This "king of Tyre" was said to be in the Garden as well. I am thinking that you can clearly see the connection but let us check two more references to confirm this. Romans 16:20 is recorded this way. "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." Sound remotely familiar? That is the curse pronounced by God upon the Serpent in the Garden. Genesis 3:15 states "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise they head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Now where does this put the Serpent? That is right. Under the feet of her seed. Paul's statement in Romans puts Satan in the Garden as well. Now for the last reference. Revelation 12:9 states "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world..."(emphasis mine). John places Satan, the Devil, back in the Garden by that one simple phrase, "that old serpent".

I believe it is very clear. Without grasping at any straws, the Scriptures plainly tell us who the Serpent was/is, what his original position was, why he fell and what he did after the fall. And by the way, we found this out because we kept reading. From Genesis to Revelation, that Serpent of old has been deceiving and attempting to destroy the works of God. Thank God though that Satan's plans will not turn out the way that he wants them to and rather that we, as the children of God through the power of God have the ability to tread on that old serpent, to crush his head and to spread the Good News that Jesus saves.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

DOGMA: JESUS WAS BORN OF A VIRGIN

This will be the second installment of, only the Lord truly knows how many, doctrines of truth that God's HolyWord unequivocally states as truth that can be known and which no true preacher of the Word of God should ever be afraid to state as dogma. Yes! I am saying that to oppose this truth is to oppose God and His Word, both written and incarnate. As with all of these that I delve into, my goal is to be concise and precise letting the Word speak for itself.

The fact that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit is illustrated in the Gospel of Matthew and Luke. In the Gospel of Luke 1:34, Mary asks the angel how it is that she can be pregnant since she does not know a man? The context CLEARLY portrays that Mary was NOT having sexual relations with Joseph prior to their marriage nor had she had sex with anyone prior to Joseph. The fact that she could be with child puzzled her because she knew that the only way for a woman to get pregnant, until now, was to have sexual relations with, know, a man. And may I address our culture here briefly? The ONLY way for a woman to be pregnant, whether naturally or through artificial insemination, is for the egg of a woman to be fertilized by the sperm of a man. This miracle, that did not include the seed of a man, was a One Time miracle.

The fact that Mary was a VIRGIN is also illustrated in the Gospel of Matthew 1:18,25. When Joseph found out Mary was with child, he sought to put her away because he perceived that she had been unfaithful to him during their betrothal. However, an angel of the Lord intervened, told Joseph that this was a Miraculous Conception and instead of putting Mary away, he married her and did not have sex with her until AFTER Jesus was born. These two Gospels paint a compelling and convincing picture that Mary knew she had not had sexual relations with any man up to the point of conception and that Joseph knew that, never before and not until after Jesus was born, did he have sexual relations with Mary.

There is NO OTHER way for this text to be understood but that Mary was a VIRGIN and the Child which was conceived in her was a Miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, aka the Power of God. Let the Gospel preacher proclaim that once again the power of God, as demonstrated in Creation and in Conception, reigned, and still reigns, supreme. That which is impossible with man is possible with God!

Monday, September 10, 2007

DOGMA: 6 LITERAL DAYS OF CREATION

Can we really know for sure that the heavens and the earth were created in a literal day, that which we would know of as a 24 hour period? I realize that there are many who claim the title christian who would also say that we cannot be sure about the time frame. I, however, think we CAN know and that we CAN know dogmatically. The greatest part about this "search for truth" is that one does not have to be a Hebrew scholar in order to know this truth. Genesis chapter 1 explains itself quit easily.

Without going into great detail, each day is signified and set apart as to what happened on each day. By focusing on the word "day" and jumping to texts other than Genesis 1, we can see how error creeps into interpretation. I contend that all that one needs to know about the word "day" is clearly delineated in chapter 1. Moses, under inspiration by God's Spirit specifically delineated what is meant by day. We find these words, "and the evening and the morning were the...". This formula is repeated once for each day of creation and in conjunction with the word "day". ANY other length of time just will not fit the formula, evening and morning. One thousand years would have thousands of evenings and thousands of mornings.

One need not say that he was not there, therefore he cannot know. With absolute certainty he can know! Why? God had it written so that we WOULD know. Evolution seeks to impose science, so-called, upon the Text and many have caved in not allowing the Text to speak for itself. In writing Genesis chapter one, Moses clearly defined what a "day" is and we can teach this truth as FACT. Though some may charge us with a lack of humility for not being willing to entertain the idea of thousands if not millions of years, simply being charged with it does not make it so. If that were the case, the charge would be against Moses because the Text offers no other alternative but six literal days.

There is Truth. You can know it. You need not be shamed into any other position. There is No Shame in standing unwaveringly upon the Truth of God's Word. Hold the truth in love we must. But hold the truth with reservation? We can not! We must hold the truth in love WITHOUT reservation.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

LIMITED VISION

In John 5:5-7, Jesus challenges Philip to see beyond the horizon. A large crowd is approaching Jesus and it is supper time and Jesus stirs Philip's thinking with this question, "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" Philip's answer betrays his thoughts. He was thinking of the expense involved rather than the source of the provision. Jesus was not interested in the cost, he was interested in moving Philip to see who alone could provide in a situation like this. I, like Philip, too often see the cost involved rather than to whom I can turn for this to be provided. Jesus' question was not, "can we afford it?"; but rather, "who are we gonna turn to for provision?". We are also told that when Jesus asked this question, he already knew what he was going to do. Jesus did not ask Philip to provide, he just wanted to see to whom Philip would turn. Jesus was prepared to act, would Philip turn to Jesus for that provision. Philip could see the crowd but he missed Jesus right next to him. Philip could see the problem, but he did not see the Provider. Our vision is not limited when we cannot see the whole problem, rather, our vision is limited when we do not see the Problem Solver. May God grant us the wisdom to turn to Him as provider rather than surveying the problem looking for a human solution.

GONE TO BE WITH JESUS

It is reported here and here that D. James Kennedy has left this earthly life to enjoy the presence of Jesus. May his family rejoice in heaven's gain and may we weep with them in earth's loss.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A NEW BLOG IN TOWN

A new blog kicked off on Saturday September 1. I encourage you to stop in and visit sbcIMPACT. This new site intends to accomplish what others struggle to do in offering cutting edge thinking and discussion without personality attacks. While you are there, be sure and visit dailyIMPACT. If you do not recognize her at first, this is SelahV. May God bless their endeavors as they walk in the light as He is in the light.