Before we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we were ruled by our own fleshly desires. Flesh does not want to love others or help them in any way. Flesh is a “selfie”, it is all about me, me, me. After we accepted Jesus, God’s Spirit came to abide in us. Now, we are walking after the Spirit and not the flesh. God’s Spirit teaches us to love one another. As we mature in our walk with God, we should be learning to love more and more. As we love others more, we learn to first look at our faults and the areas we need to improve. If we do this in light of the Scriptures, we find that we have less time to meddle and gossip. This leads to a more peaceful life. We need to stay focused on Jesus and what He has called us to do, so that outsiders see the love we display and they will be drawn to Jesus.
We are born in sin into a world of sin. We are inundated hour after hour with violence and sexual innuendos. It seems more and more that billboards and commercials are using worldly, sinful things to get us to turn away from God. Along life’s way, we pick up a lot of bad habits. Not just drugs or violent actions, but gossip, off-color language, outbursts of anger, pride, idol worship and the list goes on and on. Some of our emotional outlets can become as addictive as drugs. How do we “fix” these things? Oh, sure, I can fix some of my problems temporarily, but where can I get a time-released, longer-lasting “fix”? Our flesh is weak, but God, in His omniscience has provided us with a “how to” book for humans. It’s called the Holy Bible. Specifically the book of Proverbs gives us guidance and wisdom for our daily living situations. Read it, meditate on it, and it will be in your heart when you need it. You can get help 24/7, the line is never busy and road service is free. He comes to where we are, no waiting, no charge.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
As Paul tells us in Romans 12, we should do everything that we can do to live in peace with our fellow man. Add to that, the fact that we should strive to live a Holy life. God tells us to be Holy because He is Holy. Once we are indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit, it should be our inclination to follow the example of Jesus in all that we do. That requires us to not only seek peace and holiness, but to teach others so that no one fails to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. To do this, we must avoid gossip and rumor mongering. If we practice those things, we hurt others instead of helping. Do this with humility and love so that no one can blame you. When you are wrongfully blamed, quickly forgive the person. Don’t hold grudges and allow a “root of bitterness” to grow in your heart. This will, first of all, destroy you and then those around you.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. — James 1:26, 27 NIV
In the days that James lived and penned this book through the leadership of the Holy Spirit, people were weighed down with ritualistic religions. They were bound by rules that said “you must do this”and “you must not do that”, particularly, in the areas of eating and drinking. Those that did a decent job of following the rules considered themselves to be “religious”. They attended the services at the temples or synagouges and prayed at the right times, etc. Much like today, when we go to church on Sunday morning for a couple of hours and mumble a few (if any) prayers or spend anytime reading the Holy Scriptures during the week. We seem to feel that if we do those things, we are fulfilling our duties as Christians. We can spend the other 166 hours of the week doing whatever we please. We can gossip, criticize and say and do all kinds of things. We Christians would never steal, kill or destroy, we don’t commit the “big” sins. But the two areas in which we do fall short are in our speech and in our “not doing”. Jesus gave us a solemn warning about the things we say:
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” — Matt. 15:10
We must take this warning seriously and be very careful of what we say.
There are also many verses about how we should treat others. Jesus says that if we see a brother or sister in need and take care of that need for them, it is the same as doing it for Him. If we don’t take care of that need, it is the same as refusing to do it for Him. Helping others is how we show them the love of Jesus Christ. It is these actions that will draw others to Jesus.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. — 1 John 3:16, 17
28 Early in the morning they led Jesus from Caiaphas’s house to the Roman governor’s palace. They would not go inside the palace, because they did not want to make themselves unclean; they wanted to eat the Passover meal. 29 So Pilate went outside to them and asked, “What charges do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered, “If he were not a criminal, we wouldn’t have brought him to you.” 31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we are not allowed to put anyone to death,” the Jews answered. 32 (This happened so that what Jesus said about how he would die would come true.)—John 18:28-32 (NCV)
We humans are a mess! Look at these religious leaders! Here they are participating in a mockery of justice and falsely accusing Jesus of being a criminal of some sort. Yet, they would not go inside the Roman governor’s palace lest they become defiled and unclean. Then they would not be able to eat the Passover meal. The Jews had the authority to hold court and try their own people, so that is what Pilate tells them to do. But they wanted Jesus to be put to death and they did not have the authority to administer that kind of punishment. We, too, can be as hypocritical as these religious leaders. We judge unfairly and gossip about others, even our own Christian brothers and sisters. We can go to church every day of the week, but if we don’t love our neighbor, we are just as guilty as these people. Remember, every word of gossip grieves the Holy Spirit who is living inside us. As I write this, I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is guiding me because I need to be the first to hear this admonition. Thank you, Holy Spirit, my friend and my guide, for loving me enough to take the time to teach me again and again and again. Thank you for forgiving me even though you know I will fail and grieve you again. Amazing love!! Amazing grace that saved a wretch like me!!!
14 Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them. 15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 16 Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. 17 This kind of talk spreads like cancer, as in the case of Hymenaeus and Philetus. 18 They have left the path of truth, claiming that the resurrection of the dead has already occurred; in this way, they have turned some people away from the faith. 19 But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.”-–2 Timothy 2: 14-9 (NLT)
We should set the example of studying God’s Word and meditating on its meaning. Then we won’t have time for these useless arguments and idle gossip. Arguments and gossip lead people away from the truth of the Scriptures and away from salvation. We need to be able to explain the Word of truth and avoid foolish behavior. The world is watching us to see if we are walking out what we are teaching. If we are not, then sinners will not be interested in what we have to say. All this earthly religion will pass away but God’s Word will stand forever. Not the least point will be left undone. It is the foundation of the message we preach. It is not up to us to turn people from evil, God will do that if we use the words He gives us to say. We are the messengers, He is the author and the finisher of our faith.