Category Archives: Tongue / Gossip / Slander

Draw Near To YHWH And Our Fellow Man

James identifies a really targeted list of behaviors and attitudes that help us draw nearer to YHWH and our fellow man. We should carefully read through them and prayerfully reflect, asking YHWH to open our eyes to how they apply in our lives.

James 4

Things to Avoid

      1What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” 7Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

      11Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?

      13Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

There is a lot in this list. We should not skip any of it, but I will pull out a few items that may often be misunderstood. Where he speaks about not being a friend to the world, the context is an adulteress. Where he speaks about turning joy into mourning, he is talking about us as sinners no longer finding joy but rather mourning in our sinful behavior and attitudes so we may become humble before YHWH and repent. Where he speaks of “judging”, let us first recognize that he is recognizing the law as the righteous standard of conduct we should follow, even after Yeshua was raised from the dead. He further is emphasizing that we should focus more on obeying the law ourselves and less on judging how others are doing about it. That said, we know from elsewhere in scripture we are to discern or judge right from wrong so we may reject what is bad and embrace what is good. Thus I think his emphasis here is on those who rather than follow the law themselves, just gossip and speak against others who follow it imperfectly.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The Tongue Is A Fire

Let us take care to control our tongues. Much blessing and much trouble can come from that small part of our body.

James 3:1-12

The Tongue Is a Fire

      1Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. 2For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. 3Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. 4Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. 5So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.
See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 7For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. 8But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Be Doers of the Word Rather Than Just Hearers

As I mentioned while covering the first half of James 1, there is much to cover and we should be sure to go through it slowly and thoughtfully, careful not to skip over important points.

James 1:19-27

    19This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. 21Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. 22But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

      26If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 27Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Listen first, genuinely, before speaking. This is tough for a lot of folks, including myself at times. Avoid anger. Put aside wickedness. Receive the word with humility, avoiding defensiveness and avoiding the arrogance of assuming we already know everything, but really receiving the word and letting it transform us. YHWH does not want simply hearers of the word though, but doers of the word. In doing the word of YHWH, in abiding in his perfect law, we will be blessed.  Let us recognize also that when James refers to the perfect law of God, the law of liberty, he is talking about the Tanakh (the Torah and the writings of the prophets). The New Testament was not written yet. Clearly James did not find the law obsolete.

Control our tongue lest we hurt others and distract from YHWHs glory as we represent him. Let us help orphans and widows in their distress and remain set apart from the world, unstained by its wickedness, ready to be used by the LORD.

Prayerfully reflect on these and be sure to focus on a few for your life today. This guidance will help bring you closer to walking the way the LORD wants.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

How Are We To Behave?

The entire Bible is a guide for us to help us lead our lives in proper relationship with our heavenly Father. In his letter to Titus, Paul takes time to instruct on the way in which older and younger men and women should behave. This is not a comprehensive list of everything we should do, but it is a good checklist at least on some of our attitudes and behaviors toward YHWH and toward one another.

Titus 2

Duties of the Older and Younger

     1But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. 2Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.

      3Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

      6Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; 7in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, 8sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.

      9Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.

      11For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

      15These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Instructions To Titus on Elders

We should often remind ourselves as we read Paul’s letters, that they were not written to a broad audience in the same way that the gospels were written. These letters were written privately to specific audiences that were dealing with specific issues. We must take care to discern which elements were applicable to the specific situation and which are applicable still to us today.

Titus 1

Salutation

     1Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, 3but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior,

      4To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Qualifications of Elders

     5For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 7For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

      10For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. 12One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 15To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

As we see Paul’s salutation, we should take care not to overlook even that as providing insight. He identified himself as a bond-servant of YHWH. That mean he was dedicated to the work of YHWH and doing it according to YHWH’s ways rather than Paul’s ways. We would do well to take a similar attitude in our lives. He also reminds us that we get grace and peace from the Lord, not from our own efforts or accomplishments.

As YHWH’s people, especially the leaders, must be beyond reproach. Let that sink in. There are specific characteristics listed upon which we should focus, including the behavior and attitude of our children. We also see that seem to always be people coming to attach the body of Christ, often from within. They need to be rebuked appropriately.

It is good to close with the following verse, and prayerfully consider if we ourselves need to repent and change in some way.

15To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Difficult Times Will Come

The difficult times referred to by Paul in 2 Timothy 3 are very challenging indeed. There is a list of bad things that have become commonplace, ranging from loving self to disobeying parents to loving pleasure rather than YHWH. This describes many times and places throughout history and certainly applies to the United States today. In particular, one deceptive aspect which is not to be overlooked is that people hold to a form of godliness, but have denied its power. This is particularly dangerous as it misrepresents YHWH while claiming his name. We have instructions to stay away from people such as these… not to convert them or win the argument but to stay away.

Paul also included advice on what Timothy was to focus on when confronted with these difficult times and we can as well. We can expect persecution and hardship when we stand for Yeshua and YHWH. We are to endure it, not avoid it by hiding our faith or acting as if our faith is “private” and not to be shared. Faith, patience, love, and other such qualities are key for us during these difficult times.

Paul also ends the chapter with direction that Timothy should study and rely on all scripture, in particular the scripture he has been studying since he was a child. The New Testament was not yet written and compiled as scripture. Paul is clearly referring to the Old Testament. We should take care to hold fast to the whole Bible and not discard or downplay the Old Testament in pursuit of the New as is often taught or emphasized in churches today. The whole of scripture works together as one unit and does not contradict one another. Paul directed Timothy to study the Old Testament, and this was after the death and resurrection of Yeshua. We should do likewise.

2 Timothy 3

“Difficult Times Will Come”

     1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.

      10Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Let Us Sanctify Ourselves To Be Useful To The Master

Let us sanctify ourselves to be useful to the master, to be prepared for every good work. Let us make ready to be the vessels of honor rather than dishonor. We do not set our standard based on those around us, but based on the holy word of YHWH.

2 Timothy 2:14-26

An Unashamed Workman

     14Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. 19Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”

      20Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 22Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

We are not to wait around for YHWH to change us. We are to seek him and to study his word and live according to his ways so that we will be sanctified and ready for his use.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Guidance Within The Church Regarding Widows

1 Timothy 5 is a very interesting passage. Paul lays out some specific instructions to help guide Timothy in his ministry leading a church body. He makes some distinctions that we do not often make in our society today. We do well to truly reflect on this passage and let it guide our behavior and focus as a church.

One interesting distinction is that he does not refer to all widows as one group with the same guidance for all. He separates it based on age, based on behavior and attitude. He suggests the church body should be focused on helping those who truly don’t have family to care for them. He also rather firmly asserts ” 8But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

1 Timothy 5:1-16

     1Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, 2the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.

      3Honor widows who are widows indeed; 4but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God. 5Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day. 6But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach. 8But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

      9A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, 10having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work. 11But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married, 12thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge. 13At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. 14Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 15for some have already turned aside to follow Satan. 16If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed.

I think the guidance is good that is given in regards to treating elders as if father or mother when giving a rebuke, younger folks like brother and sister. This perhaps helps us limit the condemnation in our rebuke and focus our help as offered in love. The rebuke is still applied, but in a more gentle and loving way.

It is a good reminder that even the pagans take care of their own household. We are failing in our faith if we don’t take care of ours. We should not rely on the church body to care for our own household. In this way the church body can focus on those who are truly alone and without support.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Leadership Qualifications for the Church

Paul provides some timeless guidance on how carefully we should choose leaders within our church body. They high standards and appropriately so. Someone not only needs to meet these standards to lead in the church but also to remain in leadership within the church. If they fall, even if they repent, one must still consider very carefully if they are “beyond reproach” and if it is appropriate for them to retake a leadership position again. The emphasis is really about helping those they lead to grow closer to YHWH and it is not about maintaining the career interest of the leader.

1 Timothy 3

Overseers and Deacons

     1It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. 2An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. 4He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5(but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), 6and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 7And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

      8Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, 9but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. 11Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. 12Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. 13For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

      14I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; 15but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.

16By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.

I think this is an valuable standard to consider for all of us who wish to lead lives pleasing to YHWH, whether or not we take a formal position in the church. Prayerfully reflect and ask the Spirit to show you, without bias and defensiveness, how you and your household stack up to this standard. Ask him help to lead you in change as needed or continued growth in these areas. Pray for one another in this regard, that we would grow toward this standard.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

In My Trouble I Cried To The LORD

Not all enemies come after us with swords. More often than not, at least today, they come after us with lies and deceit. These tools still lead to conflict. Whether we seek help from enemies of the sword or seemingly more mild attacks, we can seek the LORD in any case. He can deliver us and lead us into peace.

Psalm 120

Prayer for Deliverance from the Treacherous.

A Song of Ascents.

     1In my trouble I cried to the LORD,
And He answered me.

      2Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips,
From a deceitful tongue.

      3What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you,
You deceitful tongue?

      4Sharp arrows of the warrior,
With the burning coals of the broom tree.

      5Woe is me, for I sojourn in Meshech,
For I dwell among the tents of Kedar!

      6Too long has my soul had its dwelling
With those who hate peace.

      7I am for peace, but when I speak,
They are for war.

Pray for His help. Pray for His protection. Seek Him and His truth by studying His written word in the Bible. Live according to His ways. and trust in Him to answer.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.