Do You Rejoice in Evil?
We are quick to condemn adultery, theft, and such other sins, but at the same time we often take pleasure in the hearing and telling of stories about sins which have been committed by our brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul, in Romans 1:26–32, warns us that the rebellious spirit will actually approve of evil and delight in it.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Two of the most vicious sins in the body of Christ are gossip and slander. We don’t always realize how much damage we really do when we gossip. For in gossip and slander we don’t just ruin one person, but we are contributing to the ruin of the entire body of Christ. Think on that for a moment. What you might consider as an inconsequential comment could be very damaging to the person it is about, likewise it is damaging to the whole body. Instead of gossiping and back-biting we should seek to help the part of the body that needs it. If we really understood that we are members of each other in one body with Christ as our head, we would not partake in gossip and slander; rather, we would rush to the side of our brothers and sisters and help them in their sins and struggles. Paul tells us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep”. If we want to be disciples of Christ we should want to know how the rest of the body is doing, but for the right reasons – to build up, restore, encourage and strengthen our brothers and sisters in the faith. But we need to be careful if and when we do find out about someone’s sin because gossip and slander can veil itself in the form of prayer requests or feigning concern for the person when you tell the story.
I admit that I have partaken of this sin, and still in my fallen nature I struggle with it on the rare occasion. Do you ever catch yourself, like I do, about to tell a malicious story about someone? Even unintentionally? It is not really a surprise that in our fallen nature we like to hear these stories and to retell another person’s sins and struggles. However, these acts are evidence of our rejoicing in evil, as it says in Romans 1, rather than rejoicing in what is good and holy. We must repent of these sins and pray for strength and wisdom and the ability to stand firm in the Holy Spirit. When others gossip around you, stand firm in the Spirit and suggest a change of conversation. I will not put up with gossip and slander. I will stop it as soon as I hear it, regardless of who is telling it.
So instead of gossiping and slandering to destroy, we should seek to use our spiritual gifts and God given abilities to build each other up. Each of us possesses abilities and gifts. Some of us are teachers; some of us are gifted to encourage others, or to show mercy, or to give with generosity, or to lead with zeal and so on. Some have the gifting and the nature to be pastors and elders and some do not, but all of us are equally important to the healthy functioning of the Body of Christ.
“speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” Ephesians 4:12-15
What Paul means in this passage is that while office bearers are to help equip the members to do ministry, this ministry of “building up the body of Christ” is a shared ministry– that is, it is everyone’s duty. You, me, the young people, the parents, the grandparents, the deacons, the elders, EVERYONE! All of us have a role to play in advancing each other to maturity in the faith. I am not saying that personal growth is unimportant. Our personal growth in Christ is very important, but our own growth in the faith should not be where it ends. No, our personal growth should lead to us encouraging the growth of the body as we work with one another in the Spirit.
Do you consider yourself a living member of the body who can make a valuable contribution? You and I may never be pastors, elders or deacons, but using our gifts and abilities is essential to the healthy functioning of Christ’s body. Instead of partaking in gossip and slander try to figure out how you can contribute to the up building of the body. Are you gifted mechanically? Are you gifted musically? Are you gifted in teaching? How about evangelism, or speaking or administration? Have you tried volunteering to greet or host or coordinate an event? For myself, I love to read and write but I never thought that I could use my love of reading and writing for the up building of the church. That is, not until a member who was more mature in the faith challenged me to use my abilities for the up building of the body and to God’s glory. Now I have this blog, and perhaps in the future I will teach or write a book or lead a study group. What about you? What is your gift? How can you contribute to the Body?
To my “more mature in the faith” friend – Thank you for the challenge 🙂