The Jethro’s Principles (Exodus 18:13-23) (Part 1)

1.0 Developing a Team

The Bible not only provides us with the Standard of Christian character and lifestyle, but it also provides us with examples of ministries working together (“yoked together”) as a Team. We could gleam this truth from the advice given by Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law in Exodus 18:13-27. This advice is called the “Jethro’s Principle” (Exodus 18:13-27; Deuteronomy 1:9-17):

1.1 Clericalism

About 3 million Israelites followed Moses out of Egypt (Exodus 12 to 13) into the Wilderness of Sinai (“the Church in the Wilderness” – Acts 7:38, KJV), heading towards the Promised Land (Canaan Land). Moses alone takes on the task of hearing the people’s grievances (Exodus 13:13-22); this method of dealing and carrying the burden of the people alone is called “clericalism:” Clericalism defined:

  1. Clericalism is doing God’s Work by oneself, without the counsel or help of others – Exodus 18:14,18 (KJV) “And Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said, what is this thing that thou doest to the people? Why sittest thou thyself alone and all the people stand by thee from morning unto evening?…….Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou and this people that are with thee; for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.” This is never the biblical method; God’s method is of Leadership is Team-Ministry (Ephesians 4:11-13). 
  2. Clericalism is placing yourself over others instead of seeing yourself as the Servant of others – “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your Servant: But he that is greatest among you shall be your Servant” (Matthew 20:27; 23:11, KJV).
  3. Clericalism is the Leader who stays in the “trap” of clericalism; he will fail to fulfil God’s Purpose in his life and in the life of others – Exodus 18:18 (KJV) “Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou and this people that are with thee; for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.”
  4. Clericalism can only be solved by using the Principles of Multiplying Ministries demonstrated by Jesus and Apostle Paul in the New Testament – 2Timothy 2:2 (KJV) “And the things that thou hast heard from me among many Witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”

The solution to clericalism is to build a Team; invest our time and resources in the Team. Let the Team helps us with God’s Work has called us to do – Exodus 18:21 (KJV) “Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.”

1.2 The Six Principles

Exodus 18:19-23 (KJV) “Hearken now unto my voice; I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to Godward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God. And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must do. Moreover, thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all seasons; and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge; so, shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.” Team building could be successful if we follow the Principles given to Moses by God, through Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro. Without these supporting Leaders, Moses will suffer the Leadership breakdown, causing the people of the “Church in the Wilderness” (Acts 7:38) to suffer – we will study the Six Principles given to Moses and in so doing find a solution to clericalism:

Principle 1 – Men Of Character

  1. Able men (Exodus 18:21; Matthew 25:14-30; 1Peter 4:10, 11). God gives various abilities to men and the Leader needs discerned and recognised the abilities and potential of the people under his shepherding. The potential Leaders must be proven; they also are required to work hard; he needs to learn the discipline of strenuous productive labour – Luke 10:2 (KJV) “The harvest truly is great, but the Labourers are few pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He would send forth Labourers into His harvest.”
  2. Fear God (Exodus 18:21; Proverbs 3:7; 9:10; 24:21). The potential Leaders must learn not to fear of men, as the fear of men is a snare (Proverbs 29:25; Saul – 1Samuel 15:24). Fear of God is the constant awareness that God is Sovereign and that our constant desire is to please Him.
  3. Men of Truth (Exodus 18:21; Psalm 51:6; Zechariah 8:16; Ephesians 4:15) – Honest, transparent, men of integrity. No hypocrisy, no deception.
  4. Hating Covetousness (Exodus 18:21; Proverbs 28:16; Romans 7:7; Ephesians 3:3-5; Ezekiel 33:31; 1Timothy 6:9-12) – Covetousness is the root sin. People will covet position, power, glory, money, etc., but the Potential Leaders are Persons of character that could not be bribed.
  5. Men of Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding (Deuteronomy 1:13; Proverbs 1:1-6; 1Kings 3; Ephesians 1:17, 18):
    • Knowledge = The possession of facts.
    • Understanding = The interpretation of facts.
    • Wisdom = The application of facts.
  6. Known by the people (Deuteronomy 1:13; 1Timothy 3:6; 1Thessalonian 5:12-13). Not Novices but knowing those who labour among us (Acts 6:3). 

    These qualifications remind us of the experience of the Early Church in finding people to be Elders (1Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1Peter 5:1-4) and Deacons (1Timothy 3:8-13; Acts 6:1-6), to assist the Apostles in the Oversight of the Church:
    • In Deuteronomy 1:9-18, Moses shared Jethro’s Counsel with the People, admitted his own weakness and weariness, and asked them to select Leaders to assist him. The People approved of the plan and selected the Leaders whom Moses then charged (commanded) them with the responsibilities of their Offices.
    • When Israel moved into the Promised Land, they appointed Officers in each town to assist in the settling of cases (Deuteronomy 16:18-20).
    • Numbers 31:14 indicates that the Army is organised on a similar plan (1Samuel 22:7; 1Chronicles 12).
    • Whenever ministry and structure collide, and ministry is being hindered; God’s people must adjust the structure so ministry can grow (Acts 6:1-7). In this rapidly changing world, Christian Ministries must remain flexible; if they are to solve problems and seize opportunities. A self-defeating Church embalms its structure and refuses to be flexible to changes. The Ministries that God blesses are open to change, so long as the Principles of God’s Word are not violated.

Principle 2 – Trains Others

Exodus 18:18 (KJV) “Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that are with thee; for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.” Numbers 11:14-15 “I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. And if Thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray Thee.” Moses asked God to kill him because of the problems, the result of clericalism. Clericalism is killing Moses and will kill any Leader who operates in that sphere, alone:

  1. In order to help him (Moses) God through Jethro (Moses’ father-in-law) gives him the Principle – Exodus 18:21-23 (KJV) “Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all seasons; and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge; so, shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. If thou shalt do this thing and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.”
  2. God Himself also spoke to Moses – Numbers 11:16-17 (KJV) “And the LORD said unto Moses, gather unto Me seventy men of the Elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the Elders of the people, and Officers over them; and bring them unto the Tabernacle of the Congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there, and I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.”

    The solution to Moses’ problem is to seek out and train others to bear the burden with him (Moses) because God has given both Leadership Gifts (Ephesians 4:11 – Fivefold Ministers of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers) and Spiritual Gifts to Members of the Body of Christ (Romans 12:3-8; 1Corinthians chapters 12 to 14; 1Peter 4:9-11); the Leader’s job is to train and equip the Members of the Church, so that these Members then do the Work of the Ministry (Service) – Ephesians 4:12 (KJV) “For the perfecting (equipping) of the saints for the work of the ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
  3. Each Leader – Teach One2Timothy 2:2 (KJV) “And the things that thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also”– Apostle Paul explains to Timothy, his son in the faith, in 2Timothy 2:2 that the training he has received from him (Paul) must be pass on to other faithful men. It involves three levels: (1) Paul to Timothy; (2) Timothy to faithful men; (3) Faithful men to train others. The primary responsibility of the Leader is to train others.  If the Leader takes one person and train him for one year; and on the second year, the Leader, and the trained person each takes one person and train them; if this training is kept, in 33 years the Church would have a pool of 8,589,834,592 (8+ billions) trained persons. The whole Earth would have been reached (Acts 5:14; Revelations 7:9; 2Peter 3:9).
  4. Fruit that RemainsJohn 15:16a (KJV) “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.” The Lord Jesus has “ordained” others – appointed, set apart for special services – in order to go into the world and bears fruit. The evidence of true Discipleship is “fruit.”Where there is true “fruit,” it will remain; fruit has in it the seed for more fruit, so the process goes on and on. Whatever is born of the Spirit of God has the mark of eternity on it, and it will last:
  5. Find Potential Leaders – Numbers 11:16-17 (KJV) “And the LORD said unto Moses, gather unto Me seventy men of the Elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the Elders of the people, and Officers over them; and bring them unto the Tabernacle of the Congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there, and I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.”
    • A lot of time and effort is wasted training those with no Leadership Gift. The LORD’s instruction to Moses was: “Gather….seventy men…..whom thou knowest to be Elders (Leaders)…..”
    • Look out for a person with a Servant-heart“And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be yourSservant: But he that is greatest among you shall be your Servant” (Matthew 20:27; 23:11).
    • Jesus invested most of His time in 12 Disciples who later became Apostles – Matthew 10:1-2a “And when He had called unto Him His twelve Disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the Names of the twelve Apostles are these:” Jesus followed this principle of training others – who would teach others also. That is the Ministry of Leaders – finding more Leaders and training them.

Principle 3 -Teaches the Word

Exodus 18:20 (KJV) “And thou (Moses) should teach them Ordinances and Laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.” Moses has threefold responsibilities:

  • Teach them Ordinances and Laws – Theory (Exodus 18:20; Philippians 4:9).
  • Show them the Way to Walk – Lifestyle (Exodus 18:20).
  • The Work to do – Practical (Exodus 18:20; Isaiah 2:1-5; 2Timothy 2:2).

The Potential Leaders should be taught God’s Word (“Ordinances and Laws”) – 2Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for inspiration in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

  • For “doctrine” (what is right).
  • For “reproof” (what is not right).
  • For “correction” (how to get right).
  • For “instruction in righteousness” (how to stay right).
  1. The Doctrine of the Inspiration of Scripture is important; the Doctrine that Satan attacked since the beginning (“Yea, hath God said?”– Genesis 3:1). God’s Word is Infallible and Reliable because:
    • God is the God of Truth – Deuteronomy 32:4 “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice; a God of Truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.”
    • Jesus is “the Truth” – John 14:6 “Jesus said unto him, I am the way the Truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”
    • The Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of Truth” – 1John 5:6b “And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is Truth.”
    • The Scripture is “the Word of Truth” – John 17:17 “Sanctify them through Thy Truth; Thy word is truth.”
  2. The Holy Spirit used men of God to write the Word of God – 2Peter 1:20-21 (NKJV) “Knowing this first, that no Prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation. For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit of God does not erase the Personality of the Writers. In fact, God in His Providences prepared the Writers for the task of writing the Scriptures. Each Writer has his own distinctive style and vocabulary. Each Book of the Bible grows out of a special set of circumstances. In God’s preparation of men, in His guiding of history, and in His working through the Spirit, God brought about the miracles of the Scriptures:
    • Revelation is the communicating of truth to man by God.
    • Inspiration is the supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit on the Bible’s Writers, which guaranteed that what they write is accurate and trustworthy. The inspiration is the recording of the communication in a way that is Infallible.
  3. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for inspiration in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” The Word of God is profitable:
    • For “doctrine” (what is right).
    • For “reproof” (what is not right).
    • For “correction” (how to get right).
    • For “instruction in righteousness” (how to stay right)

      A “born-again” Christian who studies God’s Word and applies what he learns will grow in holiness and avoid many pitfalls in this world.
  4. The Word of God equips us for service (2Timothy 3:17). A person can become “a man of God” if he studies the Word of God and applies it to his life. Men of God named in the Bible were basically men of God’s Word. God’s Word:
    • Perfects – Complete, in fit shape, in fit condition. It is implies being fitted for us.
    • Furnished – Equipped for Service. In other words, God’s Word furnishes and equips the Believer so that he can be effective in God’s Work (Ministry).

      The Jethro’s Principle of the Purpose of Bible Study (not Academic – Bible School for diploma/degree) is to understand Doctrines and to Equip of the Saints for the Work of the Ministry (Ephesians 4:12), so that others can come to the Knowledge of the Truth (Ephesians 4:13-16). Training based in intellectual achievements with emphasis on academic diplomas/degrees, is good and may be necessary, in the longer term, but for the current Jethro’s Principles, situations, may/may not produce the Leadership needed to win lost souls to Christ or build Growing Churches. Teach the Potential Leaders from God’s Word and Guide their lives in living out God’s Word.


To be continued….. Stay Tuned…..

Taming the Tongue (James 3:5-8)

1.0 The Tongue

To be successful in the “cleansing,” and continued to be “cleansed,” we need to learn to “shut” our ears to “the evil-report” and learn to control (tame) our tongue:

1.1 Guards our Mouth

Proverbs 13:3 “He who guard his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.” – The person who speaks too much, “sin” is present (Proverbs 10:19), and he is “a fool” (unwise) person (Ecclesiastes 5:3b).

  • Proverbs 10:19 “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”
  • Ecclesiastes 5:3b “A fool’s voice is known by his many words.”

1.2 Not to be Hasty

The person who is quick to shoot from his mouth is worse than the fool – Proverbs 29:20 “Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” The person who speaks a lot about himself reveals personal pride – Proverbs 26:12 “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope of a fool than of him.”

1.3 A Good Listerner

Proverbs 18:13 “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.” The person who is too quick to answer, usually have perceived opinion, and thus, he failed to discern correctly. 

1.4 Careful in Words

Matthew 12:36 “…..Every idle (careless – NIV) word that men shall speak; they shall give account thereof in the day of judgement.”

  • The word “idle” (Gk: “rema argos”) means “careless, or inactive word.”  In the context, Jesus is contrasting “good things” within a good person with the “evil things” in the heart of an evil person.
  • Jesus teaches us to make the best use of our words, because words express what is in our heart: “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34). The mouth is the “over-flow” valve of the heart.

1.5 Wholesome Word

Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”

  • Corrupt Word – Word with the tendency to injure the name, fame or interest of another.
  • Good Word brings Edification – Word that builds and strengthens.
  • Impart Grace – Grace should be the foundation of our speech – Colossians 4:6a “Speech with grace, seasoned with salt.”

1.6 Good Timing

Proverbs 15:23 “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” – The timing of one’s remark – given at the right time, with a brief word brings joy and encouragement to the weary.

  • Proverbs 25:11 “A word fitly spoken is like apples in setting of silver.”
  • Isaiah 50:4 “The Lord God has given Me (Christ) the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He (God) awakens My ear to hear as the learned.”

1.7 Power of the Tongue

Proverbs 21:23 “Whosoever guards his mouth, and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” – Guard his mouth and tongue means: “When to speak; when to be silent.” 

  • Proverbs 12:13 “The wicked (fool) is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous (wise) will come through trouble.”
  • Proverbs 13:3“He who guard his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.”
  • Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

1.8 Controlled Emotion

Proverbs 15: 1, 4 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger….A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Perverseness = lies.

  • It takes 2 persons to have an argument – angry words bring angry words in return. The first thing we know, there are problems difficult to settle, because everyone has said too much.
  • The best way is to stay calm and talk quietly. Words destroyed, or words healed. The wholesome tongue speaks forth HOPE. It speaks life and not death – Proverbs 25:15 “By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded, and a gentle tongue breaks a bone.”

1.9 Hold our Peace

Proverbs 17:28 “Even a fool, when he holds his peace, is counted wise; and he that shuts his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”

  • The person has so much command of himself as not to speak unadvisedly, even when provoked.
  • The person who keeps silent does not betray his folly by his words; he is considered as a man of wisdom and understanding.

1.10 Avoid Double Tongue

Proverbs 18:8 “The words of a Talebearer (lit: “Whisperer”) are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”

  • The Talebearer (Whisperer) means “Busybody person who is meddling = double-tongued” (Vulgate).
  • The words of the Deceiver (Talebearer = Whisperer), the fair-spoken, deeply-malicious person; though he appears soft and gracious, are wounds deeply injurious. – Proverbs 26:22 “The words of the Talebearer (lit: “Whisperer”) are like wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts.”

1.11 Life-Giver

1Peter 3:10 “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.” (Psalm 34:12-13) – 1Peter 3:10 is quoted from Psalm 34:12-13 – Psalm 34 deals with one of the darkest days of David’s life. –  For the person who loves life and desires to see good days:

  • David refuses to allow himself to speak evil or deceitful words to the person who goes against him.
  • David refrains from evil speaking, lying and slandering, even when he is hurt.
  • David avoids flattery with hypocritical or wicked intentions.

1.12 Wisdom – Controlled Tongue

James 1:26 “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridles not his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.”

  • The “bridles of the tongue” means “to discipline it, restrain it, curb it, keep it under control.” The tongue is “a powerful” instrument for good or evil.
  • The tongue is reckoned to be like a wild horse, that needs to be “bridled.” – A religious person must rein in his tongue; if not his religion is vain (Gk: “mataios” – means “fruitless”).
  • “Seem to be religious” means “given to religious observance and activities, or public worship.  
  • The sign of a genuine religious person is the bridled tongue; if not he “deceives his own heart.” The Psalmist prayed: “Set a watch, o Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lip” (Psalm 141:3).

Diseased Personality (Proverbs 17:4)

1.0 The Definition

The Person who gives heed to “the evil-report” catches “the disease,” of “the evil-report” and develops the destructive diseased personality of the Carrier; it will mentally and emotionally destroy that Person – Proverbs 17:4 “An evildoer gives heed to false lips; a liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue.”

1.1 The Disease

If the “disease” of embracing “the evil-report” is not dealt with, it will grieve our Lord Jesus Christ and causes abominations (hatreds) to arise in the “the diseased” Person’s heart – Proverbs 26:24-25 “He who hates, disguises it with his lips, and lays up deceit within himself; when he speaks kindly, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart.”  The “Diseased-Personality:”

1.1.1 Bitterness and Rebellion

The Person who “is diseased,” develops bitterness and/or rebellion, even though the Person who catches “the disease” does not directly offend an Individual:

  • BitternessHebrews 12:16 “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this (bitterness) many become defiled.” 
    • Falls short of God’s Grace.
    • Root of bitterness becomes part of Person’s Character.
    • Brings Troubles.
    • Defiles Others.
  • Rebellion 1Samuel 15:23a “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity (lawlessness) and idolatry.”

1.1.2 Recruiting Others

The Person who “is diseased” sets up himself/herself as “the Judge” in matters which are God’s responsibility – – James 3:11-12 “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the Law and judges the Law. But if you judge the Law, you are not a doer of the Law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver (God), who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?”  And recruiting others to be “on-his/her-side:”

  • Absalom’s spirit (2Samuel 15:1-6) – Absalom rebelled against King David, his father and steals the hearts of nearly the whole Nation of Israel – 2Samuel 15:6 “In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the King (David) for judgement. So, Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.”
  • Korah’s spiritJude 11b – “The rebellion of Korah” – Numbers 16 – The sin of Korah is the recruiting of Israelites to be on his side, in his rebellion against Moses’ authority as God’s chosen leader and the intrusion into the Aaronic Priest Office.

1.1.3 Dig Up Evil

The Person who “is diseased” searches out “the evil-report” and using it to give the worse possible impression: Proverbs 16:27 “An ungodly man digs up evil and, in his lips, there is as a burning fire.”

1.1.4 Lack of Sincerity

The Person who “is diseased” with “the evil-report,” and spreading it, believes that his/her attitude and action is in God’s Will; but he/she failed to realize that it is an occasion of self-deception:

  • Proverbs 26:18-19 “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrow and death, is the man who deceives his neighbor, and says, ‘I was only joking.’”

Symptom of Infection by the Evil Report (Proverbs 26:21)

1.0 The Infection

An Individual is said to be “infected” with “the evil-report” when he responds to “an evil-report” with human reasonings and emotions rather than with Scripture and God’s Love – Proverbs 14:15 “The simple (fool) believes every word; but the prudent (wise) man looks well to his going.”  

1.1 The Symptom

If the defilement of hearing “an evil-report” is not dealt with, wrong attitudes, opinions, conclusions, and actions will follow – Proverbs 26:21 “As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.” Even toward loves ones and close friends – Proverbs 16:28 “….a Whisperer separates chief (good) friends.” The symptoms of an infection:

  1. The Person believes the Carrier’s “evil-report” to be true without checking out the source and the reason for “the evil-report” – Proverbs 17:4 “A wicked (unwise) doer gives heed to false lips.”
  2. The Person develops negative opinions based on the Carrier’s “evil-report”- Proverbs 18:13 (Amp) “He who answers a matter before he hears (finds out) the facts, it is a folly and shame to him.”   
  3. The Person focuses on negative aspects of the person in “the evil-report” – Proverbs 21:28a, 29a “A false witness shall perish…..a wicked (unwise) person puts on the bold, unfeeling face (of guilt).”
  4. The Person interprets the Carrier of “the evil-report,” words and actions as “supporting evidence” – Management term: “Self-fulfilling Prophecy” – Proverbs 12:20a “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil.”  God’s Word exhorts: Ecclesiastes 12:13a “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter (truth).” Thus, we are not to find-fault with incomplete evidences, but to hear out the whole matter (truth).
  5. The Person judges motives (intents) of the person in “the evil-report,” on the basis of “an evil-report” given by the Carrier – Proverbs 21:10a “The soul of the wicked (fool) desires evil.” Only God’s Word (Logos) can discern the person’s intentions and motives – Hebrews 4:12 “For the word (logos) of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit; and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and   of the heart.”
  6. The Person avoidsBacks away (avoids) with the person, who is in “the evil-report,” without ascertain the accuracy of the evil-report – Proverbs 13:16a & 18:15 “Every prudent (wise) man acts with knowledge……The heart of the prudent (wise) acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”
  7. The Person repeats “the evil-report” to others – Proverbs 17:9 (Amp) “He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats and harps on a matter separates even close friends.”

Defilement by Evil Report (Proverbs 26:22)

1.0 Defilement

Defilement involves welcoming and receiving the Carrier of “the evil-report” and believe that “the evil-report” is true – Proverbs 26:22 “The words of a Talebearer (Whisperer) are as wounds. They go down into the innermost parts of the belly.” In the same way, that the person comes into contact with “an infectious-disease,” listening to “an evil-report” does defiled the person who receive it – Hebrews 12:16b “Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”

1.1 Absalom (2 Samuel 15)

A classic illustration of the influence and defilement of listening and accepting to “an evil-report” is in the work and person of Absalom – 2Samuel 15:1-13 – Absalom, the son of King David, used an innocent sounding evil report to steal the hearts of almost the whole Nation of Israel and lead it in revolt against his own father, King David. Absalom’s evil-report emphasized his “concern” for suffering people of Israel, his “deep-desire” that justice be done and his “ability” to be a better Administrator than his father, King David. Absalom acted out of bitterness because his father, King David does not bring judgement to Absalom’s half-brother for immorality (Amnon – 2Samuel 13:1-15), so he takes upon the matters into his own hands and was rejected for it (2Samuel 13:28-29). Absalom does Seven Things.

1.1.1 Gathered

Absalom, gathers and organizes a group that would be loyal to him rather than to King David, his father, whom he served – 2Samuel 15:1-2 “After this it happened that Absalom provided himself with chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. Now Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. So, it was whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king (David) for a decision, that Absalom would call to him and say, ‘What city are you from?’ and he would say, ‘Your servant is from such and such a tribe of Israel.’”

1.1.2 Plan

Absalom hatched a plan, to win the heart of the people of Israel – 2Samuel 15:3 “Then Absalom would say to him, ‘Look your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you.”

1.1.3 Available

Absalom makes himself available to the people – 2Samuel 15:4 “Moreover Absalom would say, ‘Oh, that I were made Judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice.

1.1.4 Discontentment

Absalom seeks out those who have grievance – 2Samuel 15:5 “And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hands and take him and kiss him.

1.1.5 Personal Interest

Absalom shows personal interest to the person who has a complaint – 2Samuel 15:5 “And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hands and take him and kiss him.”

1.1.6 On Behalf

Absalom takes up the offenses on behalf of those who have been hurt – 2Samuel 15:6a “In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the King (David) for judgement.”

1.1.7 Hearts Stolen

Absalom, “steals” the hearts of almost the whole Nation of Israel – 2Samuel 15:6b,12b, 13b “So, Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel…..And the conspiracy grew strong, for the people with Absalom continually increased in number……The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.  

Absalom alienated the people of Israel from King David’s influence and authority by giving “an evil-report” about the leadership of King David: 

  • Absalom offered to be their Representative to make sure things are done right away – 2Samuel 15:4 “Moreover Absalom would say, ‘Oh, that I were made Judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice.”
  • Absalom would use his position, as the son of David, to increase his influence over the people of Israel – 2Samuel 15:4 “Moreover Absalom would say, ‘Oh, that I were made Judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice.”
  • Absalom desired acceptance and recognition as well as authority – 2Samuel 15:6b,12b, 13b “So, Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel…..And the conspiracy grew strong, for the people with Absalom continually increased in number……The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.

1.2 God’s Judgement

– Absalom became “a curse” in the Nation of Israel – Deuteronomy 21:23b “For he who is hanged is accursed of God.” – Absalom, in his defeat, tried to escape from David’s men and his head was caught in the branch of the tree – 2Samuel 18:9-10 “And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his (Absalom’s) head caught firmly in the oak, and he was suspended between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away…..Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” Thus, fulfilled Deuteronomy 21:23b, “For he who is hanged is accursed of God.”

1.3 God Hates

The Book of Proverbs states that six things God hates and the seventh is an abomination to Him: Proverbs 6:16-19 “These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: ‘A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood. A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” 

Exposure to Evil Reports (Proverb 27:12)

1.0 The Exposure

Exposure to “an evil-report” means entering into conversation and empathize with the person who is the Carrier of “an evil-report.”

  • God Desires – God desires that the Individual be the Prudent Person, who does not entertain “an evil-report” – Proverbs 27:12 “A prudent man foresees the evil and hides himself, but the simple (fool) pass on and are punished.”
  • God WarnsPsalm 101:5 “Whosoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; the one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, him I will not endure.”
  • God Expects – How does we respond to God’s Expectation – Romans 16:17 “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine (teaching) which you learned, and avoid them.” 

1.1 Discernment – How do we discern and detect the Carrier of “an evil-report:”

  • He Tests our spirit – The Carrier of “an evil-report” will usually test our spirit before giving us “the evil-report.” – Any evidence of a compatible spirit in us will encourage the Carrier to give us “the evil-report.”  – 2Corinthians 12:20b “Backbiting, whispering, conceits…..”
  • He Tests our Acceptance – The Carrier of “an evil-report” will usually check our acceptance of his “feed-back,” before giving the full-report to us. He may do this by asking for our opinion about the Person or Church, or dropping a negative comment and observes our response to it – Absalom, David’s son used an innocent sounding evil report to steal the hearts of almost an entire Nation of Israel and leads it in revolt against his own father, King David (2Samuel 15:1-6) – “So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2Samuel 15:6b).
  • He Creates Curiosity – The Carrier of “an evil-report” will often get us to ask for the details of “the evil-report” by creating curiosity for it. Some starters are: “Have you heard about (this person)?” “Wait till I tell you about (this person)!” – Psalm 41:7-8 “All who hate me whisper together against me; against me they devise my hurt. An evil disease, they say, ‘cling to him. And now that he lies down, he will rise up no more.’”
  • He Shares Concern? – The Carrier of “an evil-report” may get our attention by asking us for our counsel or by sharing a concern for the Person involved – this is a subtle deception, used by Satan on Adam’s wife, Eve (Genesis 3:1-6).
  • He Has Privileged Information? – The Carrier of “the evil-report” try to get us interested because he has “the inside-privileged information” –Shemaiah, who was working, as a Secret Informer, for the Opposers (Sanballat, Tobiah) who were against Nehemiah, tried to persuade Nehemiah that he has “secret-information” of the people who wanted to kill him (Nehemiah 6:10-14).    

1.2 Guidance

To avoid contamination by “an evil-report” we need God’s Written Word (Scripture) and the Guidance of the Holy Spirit, by sensing His (Spirit’s) promptings and be opened to the Counsel of God’s Leaders in His House. To detect “an evil-report;” these are five questions that we should ask before listening to the Carrier of “the evil-report:”

  • “What is his/her personal reason for telling us?” – Widening the circle of gossip can only increase the problem.
  • “Where did he/she get his/her information?” – Refusal to identify the source of the information is a sure signal of “an evil-report.”
  • “Have he/she gone to the Person directly to clarify?” – Spirituality is not measured by how well we expose an Offender, but by how effectively we restore an Offender – Matthew 18:15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him/her his fault between you and him ALONE. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” (Galatians 6:1-4).
  • “Have he/she personally checked out all of the facts?” – Even “facts” become distorted when not balanced with other facts or when given with negative motives.
  • “Can he/she be quoted if we check this out?” – The person who gives “an evil-report” often claim that he/she is “misquoted.” This is because his/her words and overriding impressions are reported, which may be distorted!

The Problems of Evil Report (Proverbs 16:28)

1.0 Definition

An Evil Report involves the distortion of facts or false information. It is given with wrong motivations and causes the Hearer to come to inaccurate conclusions and to respond with unscriptural “solutions.”  

1.1 Defilement

Listening to an evil-report results in defilementProverbs 16:28 “A Whisperer separates chief friends.”  Carrying an evil report to another person, is so destructive that it can destroy long-lasting friends. However, wrong doing should never be covered over but the exercise of correction is to be with God’s Wisdom, in a Scriptural manner – Galatians 6:1-2 “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass (sin), you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

1.2 Classification

From God’s Word, “an evil-report” could be classified into:   

  1. Whisperer – The person who secretly or privately passes “an evil-report” to others – Psalm 41:7 “All who hate me whisper together against me; against me they devise my hurt.” The person is also called “a Gossiper” (Proverbs 18:8; Proverbs 26:22).
    • Proverbs 18:8 (NIV) “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels (crumbs)they go down to a man’s inmost parts.”   
    • Proverbs 26:22 (NIV) “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels (crumbs); they go down to a man’s inmost parts.”
  2. Gossip – The person who magnifies and sensationalizes rumors and partial information – Proverbs 18:8 “The words of a talebearer (gossip) are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.”
  3. Slanderer – The person who seeks to destroy another’s credibility or reputation with damaging facts, distortions of facts, or evil suspicions – Numbers 14:36 “Now the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation complain him (Moses) by bringing a bad (evil) report of the land (Promised Land).”
    • Lucifer (later called Satan) slandered God and caused one-third of the Angelic Hosts to Fall (Ezekiel 28:12-19; Revelation 12:4).
    • Satan is the Slanderer (Accuser) of the brethren (Christians – Revelation 12:10b).
  4. Busybody – The person who digs up “an evil-report” and makes it his business to spread them by means of gossip, slander, or whispering. Such an action is associated with the sin of murder or stealing as shown in 1Peter 4:15 “Let none of you suffer as a murderer or as a thief or as an evildoer or as a busybody in other men’ matters.”      

1.3 Failure to Understand

The person who spreads “an evil-report” does not take heed of the damages that could result – 2 Corinthians 2:11 “Satan will gain an advantage over us if we are ignorant of his devices.” Satan’s scheme is to spread “an evil-report” and create division amongst the brethren – James 3:6 “The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity (lawlessness)……it defiles the whole body and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.”  

  1. Failed to Understand of how the unclean defiles the clean, rather than the clean influencing the unclean – Haggai 2:11-13 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Now, ask the priests concerning the law, saying, If one carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and with the edge he touches bread or stew, wine or oil, or any food, will it become holy’ Then the priests answered and said, ‘No.’ And Haggai said, it one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be unclean?’”
  2. Failed to Understand of how “an evil-report” destroys close friendship – Proverbs 17:9 “He that covers a transgression seeks love; but he that repeats a matter separates good friends.”  
  3. Failed to Understand of what constitutes “an evil-report?” – “An evil-report” is an unauthorized or distorted report which influences us to form a poor or unwarranted opinion about another person – Proverbs 26:24-25 “He that hates dissembled with his lips, and lays up deceit within him, when he speaks fair, believe him not; for there are seven abominations in his heart.”   
  4. Failed to Understand the nature behind “an evil-report,” is self-seeking and self-promotionJames 3:14-16 “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, and demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”
    • Bitterness – Reacting because of personal hurts.
    • Rebellion – Justifying an independent spirit.
    • Deception – Believing that “an evil-report” is the right thing to give.
    • Pride – Self-seeking and wanting to exalt-justify-self.
    • Guilt – Justifying past actions or attitudes.
    • Envy – Desiring what another has.
  5. Failed to Understand how susceptible we are to “an evil-report” – We enjoy hearing “an evil-report” because it puts down another person; this attitude is part of human Fallen-Nature – Proverbs 14:15 “The simple (fool) believes every word; but the prudent man looks well to his going.”  
  6. Failed to Understand that Satan uses “an evil-report” to damage and ultimately destroy a person or the ministry – Proverbs 26:21 “As coal are to burning and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.”
    • To discredit spiritual leadership.
    • To cause Christians to close their hearts toward each other.
    • To multiply conflicts and produce ungodliness.

Biblical Meaning of Evil Speaking (James 4:11-12) (Part 2)

1.3 Usurping God’s Right & Authority

James 4:12 “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy, who art thou that judges another? The argument enforcing the prohibition against backbiting and judging is stated in James 4:12, “there is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who art thou that judgest another?” When we judged others and speak against them, we are, trying to push God off His Judgement Seat in order to place ourselves on it. This is an action of gross presumption because God’s Position is absolutely unique: 

First, God is the sole Lawgiver (James 4:12). His Law alone is of permanent significance. God may delegate various functions and responsibilities to human Representatives, but He permits no man to cancel or modify His Law. God has the exclusive right to judge because He alone is Lawgiver.

Second, God is the Supreme Judge of mankind (James 4:12). His judgements upon us are of eternal validity. He has the unique ability to both save and destroy. God says in Deuteronomy 32:39, “There is no gods besides Me. I put to death, and I bring to life, I have wounded, and I will heal, and no one can deliver from My hand.” God alone is competent to judge justly (1Corinthians 4:4-5). By being critical and judgemental of our brothers we are usurping a prerogative which belongs only to God. God does not permit any man to share His Judgement Seat as He alone is “able to save and to destroy.”  The latter word means that God is LORD of life and death. He has absolute power to do with men whatever He pleases. There may be in the words a special reference to God’s Judgement of men at the end of the Age. 

James concluded his command with “a devastating shaft of withering frankness” (Mitton). The contrast: God “is able to save and to destroy;” but “who are thou?” Mrs Montgomery expresses well the stress of the Greek: “But you, who are you, to be condemning your brother?” The manner of statement emphasises the profound scorn of James for a person who judges his brother/sister and thus set himself against and above God’s Law. For us to judge others, therefore, is to take upon ourselves a right which is God’s; it is an infringement of God’s prerogative. We do well to ask ourselves, “Who am I to judge my brother?” or as Paul says, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his master own master, he stands or falls” (Romans 14:4). If we appreciate the presumptuousness of our judging others, we will tremble at the thought of engaging in it. We will all find ourselves tempted to be impatience with, and criticism of, other people’s behaviour at times; but it is a temptation we must overcome. However, James 4:11-12 do not teach that we should let my brothers and sisters go on in sin without speaking to them about it. We must not criticise the person in front of other people but should speak to him alone about his sin. If he repents, nothing more needs to be done.

If not, then we should visit him again with one or two other believers as taught in Matthew 18:15-17 and Galatians 6:1; he should be judged in a public way only after he does not accept the advice of all the Believers who speak to him privately and he still refused to repent.

1.4 Application

Charles Simeon, whose ministry in Cambridge was so influential, wrote a letter to a friend in July 1817 on how to cope with evil-speaking. The advice he gave was excellent and is as good a guide now as when it was first written; “the longer I live, the more I feel the importance of adhering to the rules which I have laid down for myself in relation to such matters:”

  • “1st, it hears as little as possible what is to the prejudice of others;”
  • “2nd, to believe nothing of the kind till I am absolutely forced to it;”
  • “3rd, never to drink into the spirit of one who circulates an ill report;”
  • “4th, always to moderate, as far as I can, the unkindness which is expressed towards others;”
  • “5th, always to believe, that if the other side were heard, a very different account would be given of the matter.”

Biblical Meaning of Evil Speaking (James 4:11-12) (Part 1)

1.0 The Statement

God hates all sin, but there are a few sins that are constantly and strongly condemned by Scripture – judging others by condemning, criticising, backbiting, gossiping, speaking evil, and talking about them – is one of the sins that Scripture never lets up on; judging others is severely condemned (Proverbs 6:19b “He that soweth discord among brethren.”). James also tells us not to criticise our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we criticise others, we are really saying that we are better than they; it is very easy to judge others, but it can do a lot of harm. It breaks up friendship and causes unhappiness and evil feeling between us and our brothers or sisters. There is strong tendency:

  • For the good person to judge and criticise the “evil” person.
  • For the gifted person to judge and criticise the less gifted.
  • For the energetic person to judge and criticise the lazy.

All of us are guilty of the sin of “speaking evil” of others. James 4:11-12 is closely connected with the thought of James 4:10. It should be understood as an illustration of what happened in a life void of humility. Disparaging (unfavourable) criticism of others is an expression of human pride. The person who indulges in it sets himself above both the person he criticises and the Divine Law which forbids it.  On the other hand, there is a connection with the entire preceding verses (James 4:1-10), as pointing up another way in which the worldly mind expresses itself:

  • Lust for pleasure and self-gratification (James 4:1-10) is one way.
  • Harsh criticism, one of bitter fruit of the lust which war in our member, must have contributed to, and been a part of, the feud and faction mentioned at the beginning of James chapter 4.

1.1 Evil Speaking

James 4:11 “Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his borther, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law; but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law but a judge.” The verb “speaketh not evil” (James 4:11a) means to slander and twice as to “speak against” (James 4:11b & 11c). To slander is to speak against someone. Slander is:

  • To imitate the Devil, whose name “diabolos” means “Slanderer” (Revelation 12:9-10) – “Accuser of the brethren.”
  • A character of “old life” –   We need to recognise that slander belongs to our old life, and we need to be rid of it (Ephesians 4:31 – “evil speaking”).
  • Slander will not only hinder our spiritual growth, but it will ruin any testimony we may possess to the saving power of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • It is impossible to be in a right relationship with God and at the same time to indulge in slander (1Corinthians 5:11).

James’ exhortation concerning slander needs to be applied not only to the Christian in his personal or one-to-one relationship but also to the corporate relationship in the Body of Christ. One group of Christians can so easily slip into the snare of slandering another, especially if they have a varying emphasis on some point of doctrine. We need to be on guard whenever the question is asked, “have you heard what is going on at present at such and such a Church?”

To “speak evil” of a person is to find fault with him, to speak disparagingly (unfavourably) of him, to gossip maliciously about him. To “speak evil” means “to talk against, to defame, to slander” – literally, “to talk down” another person; it is a sin mentioned elsewhere in the Bible as:

  • Backbiting (2Corinthians 12:20).
  • Slander (1Peter 2:1).
  • Romans 1:30 mentions it, along with other gross sins, as a trait of the reprobate (degenerated) mind.
  • Malicious talk (1Timothy 6:4) – “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts” (Proverbs 26:22).
  • Saying things that ought not to be said at all (1Timothy 5:13).
  • False testimony (Deuteronomy 5:20).
  • The spreading of false reports (Exodus 23:11).
  • The unhelpful repeating of stories about wrongs or offences (Proverbs 17:9).

1.2 The Consequences

James 4:11 “Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his borther, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law; but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law but a judge.” James here equates it with judging our brother, a sin expressly forbidden by Christ (Matthew 7:1-5) Our Lord Jesus reminds us that the person who quickly judges others and speaks against them is the man who knows very little of himself and of his own sinfulness and is strongly condemned by Paul (Romans 14:4,10,13):

  1. Commands us not to speak evil (slander) one of another – “Speak not evil one of another, brethren” (James 4:11a). The knowledge of our own failings makes us more and more hesitant about expressing any form of criticism of others. The man who knows himself learns an increasing silence before other people’s faults.

     Story, the dreadful effects of slander in the life of David Livingstone, the famous Missionary to Africa. To save his wife from some of the hardships that were inevitable in the initial stages of establishing a home for her with him, he left her in a secure place until he had prepared a home for her at Lake Nyassa. But people began to talk unkindly, suggesting that he and his wife did not get on well together and that Mrs Livingstone was not a help to her husband. Dr. Livingstone was so troubled by these insinuations that he sent for his wife, she came, only to become ill and die. What a dreadful responsibility rests upon those who indirectly caused her death with their gossips.
  2. Judging Others – Speaking evil (slander) is judging others – “He that speaketh evil of his brother and judgeth his brother” (James 4:11b). Slander and judging others are frequently linked; it is virtually impossible to speak against another person without falling into the trap of judging him. When we speak against a brother – which is slander – we are usually saying that he has either done something wrong or that he has left undone something that he ought to have done. We may pass our remarks off as simply the expression of our opinion, but the truth is that we are passing judgement on another person, judging him.

    Story, a story is toldof a Christian teacher of the 16th century who one day found himself faced with a woman who confessed herself to be a Slanderer, “do you frequently fall into this fault?” he inquired; “yes, very often,” she admitted. “Your fault,” he said, “is great but the mercy of God is still greater. Go to the nearest market and purchase a chicken, just killed, and still covered with feathers. You will then walk a certain distance, plucking the bird as you go along. When you’ve finished your walk, return to me here.”  The woman went to the market, bought the chicken, and set out on the journey, plucking it as she went alone, just as she had been instructed. In a short time, she returned, anxious to relate how exactly she had done what she had been told, and to see what it all meant. “Ah,” said her teacher, “you have been very faithful to the first part of my orders. Retrace your steps and gather up one by one all the feathers you have scattered;” “but,” explained the woman, “I cast them carelessly on every side, the wind carried them in every direction. How can I recover them?” “Well,” he replied, “so it is with your words of slander; like the feathers, they have been scattered. Call them back if you can. Go, and sin no more.”
  3. Violates God’s Law – Speaking evil of others violates the Law of God – “Speaketh evil of the Law” (James 4:11c). James says that when we speak against our brother and judge him, we speak against the Law, and judge the Law. If we fall into the snare of judging someone, knowing full well before hand that I ought not to do so, I am saying in effect that God’s Law – His Royal Law (James 2:8) which says that I must love my neighbour as myself – has no binding power on me and can be ignored. I act as if I judge God’s Law to be of no real consequence. To love my neighbour as myself must, at the very least, mean protecting his reputation as I would want my own to be protected. But if I judge my neighbour, I’m saying that God’s Law can be ignored. And that is the most serious violation. Charles Simeon says, “Let us sit upon the seat of love instead of judgement.”
  4. Acted as a Law-Giver – Speaking evil of others sets the person up as judge, as a lawgiver” – “But if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law but a judge” (James 4:11d). The other way in which we speak against the Law and even presume to judge it by engaging in slander or speaking against our brother is that we are saying, in effect, that we don’t feel that we can wait for the Law and the Judge (God) to do their job. By our own word of judgement, we imply that we need to anticipate the Judge’s (God’s) action. By implication we are judging the Lawgiver as being either dilatory (slow) or inadequate; otherwise, why do we ourselves rush into judgement? For this reason, James adds the warning: “When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgement on it.”  The person who “speak evil” of his brother and sister is breaking the Law which commands him “to love his neighbour as he loves himself – the Royal Law” (James 2:8; Leviticus 19:18).

    James says this person is really judging God’s Law; in effect he sets himself above God’s Law and declares that he is above God’s Law. Such a person removes himself from the category of “a Doer of the Law” and becomes “a Judge of the Law” (James 4:11c). Once slander has been spoken, it is virtually impossible to do anything about it; even to try and undo the harm that has been done may only aggravate the situation by drawing attention afresh to the false statement that has been made.

To be continued….. Stay Tuned…..

The Antidote for Anxiety (Phillippians 4:6-7) (Part 2)

1.5 Robber of Joy

Anxiety (worry) is the greatest thief of joy. The theology of “joy” is found in the Book of Philippians:

  • The word “joy/rejoice” is used 19 times in the Book of Philippians. The Book of Philippians is called “Book of Joy!”
  • Mind is mentioned 10 times; think 5 times; remember 1 time (total = 16 times).
  • The Name “Christ” is mentioned 50 times in the Book of Philippians.

1.6 The Antidote for Anxiety (Worry)

Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV) “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

1.6.1 God Commands

Philippians 4:6 (NKJV) “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” God says: “Be not anxious about anything.” The question is “can a Christian avoids anxiety (worry) and possesses a calm and confident spirit that bears testimony to the sufficiency of God’s Grace?” God’s Word encourages the person to talk to God “about everything.” Paul does not exhort the person to pray about his anxiety (worry). He is too wise to do that; he uses three different words to describe prayer:

  1. Prayer – The word prayer is the general word and carries the idea of adoration, devotion, and worship. Whenever the person finds himself anxious (worrying), his first response ought to be alone with God and worship Him. In the adoration and worship, the person begins to see God’s Greatness and Majesty! He will begin to realise that God is bigger than his problems. Too often the person rushes into God’s Presence and hastily tells Him his needs or problems when he ought to approach Him in deep adoration and worship.
  2. Supplication is an earnest sharing of his needs and problems with God – talk it out with God – “Let your requests be made known unto God.” There is no place for half-hearted approach to God for help. The person must come with assurance that God hears his prayer. The Heavenly Father wants him to be earnest in his asking (Matthew 6:7-8). The small affairs of life as well as the big ones are important. Most of the time, the problem has a “small beginning” but if not properly handled, it escalates into “a big thing.” Nothing is too trivial to bring to God. Talking to God about “everything” is the first step towards victory over anxiety (worry). God exhorts us: “To cast all our care upon Him; for He careth for us” (1Peter 5:7). Psalm 55:22 (NIV) “Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.”
  3. Thanksgiving – After prayer (adoration & worship), supplication (sharing one’s needs & problems with God) comes appreciation, giving thanks to God. When Jesus healed ten lepers, only one of the ten returned to give thanks (Luke 17:11-19) and wonder if the percentage is any higher today. Thanksgiving stimulates faith and hope for the present and the future. The person gives thanks to God for past mercies. The memory of them gives him confidence. It is easy to thank God when there is no trouble, but it is more needful when trouble comes. Cultivate the habit of remembering the everyday’s blessings and never stop to thank God for them. A person should be anxious (worry) for nothing, prayerful for everything, and thankful for anything.

1.6.2 God’s Promise

Philippians 4:7 (NKJV) “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

  1. The Antidote – The antidote for anxiety (worry) is “the Peace of God.” The Peace of God comes to the person who prays (adoration, worship), supplicates, and gives thanks
    • Serenity – The Peace of God is that inward serenity grounded in God’s Presence, God’s Promise, and God’s Power. It ministers to the person’s mind and heart.
    • Peace – Every Christian can have the Peace of God because every Christian knows how to pray, supplicates, and gives thanks.
    • Confidence – This does not mean the absence of trails in the person’s life, but it is the quiet confidence in God, regardless of circumstances, people, or things.
    • In Salvation, the person experiences “the Peace with God” – Romans 5:1 (KJV) “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have Peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peace with God describes the state between God and the person. Every Christian experienced “Peace with God.” But not every Christian has the “Peace of God.” Peace with God is dependent upon faith (Romans 5:1), whereas the “Peace of God” is dependent upon Prayer (adoration & worship), supplication and thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6-7).
  2. Guards – The Peace of God Guards (“stands Guard” – phroureó) over two areas that create anxiety (worry) – the heart (wrong feeling) and the mind (wrong thinking). The word “Guards” is a military term meaning “to guard or garrison.”
    • Guards – Peace of God stands guard as an armed sentinel and watches over the heart and mind of that person who prays (worships & adoration), supplicates, and gives thanks:
    • Prevents – The Peace of God guards the person’s heart and mind from being overwhelmed by the sudden onrush of fear and anxiety.
    • Stability – The Peace of God maintains the person’s mental equilibrium and gives him emotional stability.
    • Secures – The Peace of God secures his mind and heart and guides him.
  3. God’s Peace Surpasses all power of human reason or comprehension – Philippians 4:7b “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,” in the Greek, the phrase indicates a unique kind of Peace transcending every human thought. It is not, therefore, merely greater in degree than that provided by earthly consideration, but a totally different in kind. God’s Peace far surpasses all the careful planning and clever ideas as to how the person can resolve his own anxiety (worry). God’s Peace is “Perfect Peace” – “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee” (Isaiah 26:3, KJV). The “Peace of God” is found in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ – “Through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7c).
  4. Personal Responsibility – Colossians 3:15 (NKJV) “Let (allow) the peace of God rules in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”
    • Guards – God’s Sovereignty is “to Guard” the person’s mind and heart (Philippians 4:8).
    • Allows – The person’s responsibility is to “let – allow” (Colossians 3:15) the Peace of God to “Rule” (“to preside;” “to umpire”). The Peace of God is the “Umpire” in the person’s heart and mind.
    • Harmony – If the person has Peace of God “Ruling” (“umpiring”) in his mind and heart, he will be at peace with the others – Colossians 3:15a (NKJV) “Let (allow) the peace of God rules in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body.” The person is called to one Body of Christ and his relationship in that Body must be one of harmony and peace.
    • Thankful – Continuously maintain “a spirit of thankfulness” at all times – “be thankful” (Colossians 3:15b).

1.7 Summary

Anxiety (worry), the unpredictable thing of life, handled according to Divine Principles (Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 3:15), becomes the means of the unexplainable Peace of God; acting as a Garrison in the person’s mind and heart, as he meets situations, people, and problems, in his daily life.

1.8 Application

(1) Apostle Paul prayed three times for his “thorn in the flesh” to be removed. God’s answer came back each time, “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2Corinthians 12:9). The conditions have not changed, but Paul’s heart is changed and his attitude toward his affliction changed because of the reassuring Word of God. (2) Daniel gives us a good illustration of peace through prayer. When the King of Babylon announced that none of his subjects was to pray to anyone except the King, Daniel went to his room, opened the windows, and prayed as before (Daniel 6:1-10). Daniel “prayed and gave thanks before his God” (Daniel 6:10) and he made supplication (Daniel 6:11). Prayer-Supplication-Thanksgiving! And the result was perfect peace in the midst of difficulty! Daniel was able to spend the night with the lion in perfect peace, while the King in his palace could not sleep (Daniel 6:18).

1.9 Historical

The Philippians lived under an all-embracing political regime – the Imperial Roman Empire – which prided itself on having subjugated the known world so bringing to every nation the benefits of the “pax Romana,” the Roman Peace. This Roman Peace is maintained by garrisoning troops all around the Empire to put down uprisings and to quell dissent. In the final analysis Rome keeps its Peace by the crosses it erected to execute those who disturbed that, Peace. However, the Garrison God puts in the person’s heart and mind is “the Peace of God.”