Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Today's word: revilers

What behaviors come to mind when you think of an unrighteous man? What habitual behaviors, when you see them, might lead you to conclude that you might not be dealing with a Christian? What behaviors are egregious enough, when un-repented of, to disqualify someone from service in the local church or lead to church discipline? Well, I'm sure we can all think of a few. Many of them indeed are included in the following list:
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, emphasis mine)
Christians are known for their outspoken opposition to many of the behaviors in that list. But there is one I have yet to hear a Christian preach against. In fact, there is one that I would suggest has become characteristic of our culture. It is the sin of reviling.

–verb (used with object)
1. to assail with contemptuous or opprobrious language; address or speak of abusively.
–verb (used without object)
2. to speak abusively.

1.  abuse, vilify, vituperate, berate, disparage.

Reviling dominates our debates, our blogs and comment threads, much of our humor and entertainment, and most of what passes for our news media. Our ears itch to hear our opponents mocked and disparaged, abused, berated, and vilified. Reviling has taken over our rhetoric. Like the chariot races and gladiator matches of ancient days, abusive language make our hearts pound with excitement while deafening our ears to the cries of the gentle. It hardens our hearts. It turns us into bullies, or it bullies us into subjection. I truly wish I could say I was speaking only of the culture of the "world," but the truth of the matter is, reviling has permeated "Christian" culture and public behavior. It's a smack-down world and we want smack-down leaders who can take down the opposition with savor and flourish. We prefer arrogance to meekness. In a world of bullies we want bullies to lead us and make us feel safe and our position sound. Don't mess with us, we'll take you down!


Yet the Scripture tells us that revilers will not enter the kingdom of heaven....

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control, gentleness; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." (Galatians 5:22-24 emphasis mine)

May God grant us repentance.

10 comments:

rachel said...

Thank you for this. I needed to hear it. :)

Josh M. said...

I have to plead guilty too here and not just for neglecting to preach about it. I had a discussion with my wife a couple days ago where I thought she agreed with a position that I thought was just so backward and dumb. And I immediately raised my voice in making my own argument. I didn't mean to squash her but I certainly wanted to squash what I thought was stupid and harmful argument in the context of the kingdom. And she of course could only hear it as a personal attack.

It made me realize how much baggage I'm still carrying around and how short I fall when it comes to focusing on loving people and dealing with their opinions much more graciously even when I strongly disagree. And somehow that seems more difficult with people I'm close to than with strangers.

Laurie M. said...

Josh,
So often it is home that reveals the heart. (For some it is also revealed in the anonymity and/or distance sense of safety and/or distance provided by the internet.) Who we are with those we feel safest and have the most power over is most revealing of our true character.

I, for instance, am not immune to the wicked sense of superiority that comes from seeing my opponents belittled intellectually. One of the strongest of my natural abilities is one God forbade me to use almost as soon as I was converted. This glorious and uniquely pleasurable skill is now defined by the word "snark". I was born with a wicked wit. Key word "wicked". I can destroy people with a few choice words. God tells me to love and build up, not tear down.

Even so, I have to be very careful not to find my own enjoyment in seeing others do what God has shown me to be sin. We can be as wicked in what we enjoy watching others do as in what we take part in ourselves.

Simple Mann said...

"So often it is the home that reveals the heart."

How true. Coupled with your "lowest common denominator"--"I've found it to be the case that who I am, and how I behave in my most difficult relationships, is the most reliable measure of my character."--I feel like Adam in the garden post-fruit... naked and ashamed. It is certainly in my most cherished relationships at home that I realize how greatly and how desperately I need a Savior... and a Sanctifier.

This reflection today also coincides nicely with a quote from A.W. Pink I came across and posted earlier: "Poverty of spirit is a fruit that grows on no merely natural tree. It is a spiritual grace wrought by the Holy Spirit in those whom He renews. By nature we are well pleased with ourselves, and mad enough to think that we deserve something good at the hands of God."

We can only revile when we are thinking too highly of ourselves and too little of others, but oh how often we do it! How quickly we turn from revealing Christ to reviling others, and I count myself among the scoffers.

Thanks for this humbling post.

Simple Mann

Laurie M. said...

Thank you Simple Mann. You're right. Reviling has pride at its heart.

WhiteStone said...

Thanks, Laurie, for good admonishment. Less reviling - more peace.

Buddy B said...

Saw your comments on Tamara Out Loud... Wanted to see WHY you get into trouble... It is because of the truth... Great blog, keep getting into trouble because of the truth. It will make you free and get you into trouble.

Anonymous said...

The Holy Spirit led me understand that I have trouble showing MERCY. This struggle then accomodates REVILING behavior in my life. I had previously been trying to LOVE better and more perfectly. But, alas that was not the problem. Thank you all for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you said but it is one-sided. Consider Psalm 2:4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.

Here god is the one scoffing, and being a reviler. Didn't Jesus revile by calling the pharisees "whitewashed tombs"? If we are to be as he is, and there is a time a season for all things, perhaps there is a place for reviling? Therefore one needs to be in direct communication with God to know what and when to revile and not to revile?

People don't need a system about God, they need to be in direct relational communication.

Laurie M. said...

Anonymous #2, thank you for your comment.

God has the prerogative to scoff, if He sees fit, because He is perfect in holiness and understanding. I, on the other hand, am not, and so I will leave that to Him.

As for a system, I'm not sure what you mean, but I'm sure I don't have one. I trust in Christ. The Scriptures and the Holy Spirit guide me. I do not believe the Holy Spirit will lead me to contradict the instructions He's inspired in the written word. Which is why, with His help, I will refrain from reviling.