"Do we belong to a criminal community or to God's chosen people? There's a well-known saying that suggests, 'Believers are notorious for tearing each other down.' To put it differently, 'Believers are well-known for disrespecting one another.' As C. S. Lewis once said, 'If God forgives us, we must also forgive ourselves; otherwise, we're setting ourselves up as a higher judge than Him.' Unfortunately, the way God's people emotionally and verbally attack each other can sometimes make us wonder if we're talking about criminals rather than God's chosen ones.
Without a doubt, the perception of God's House in the world would change if more people lived by Romans 12:10-11: 'Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord.' However, gossip and slander stand as genuine threats to this honor. Conversely, the opposite of slander is guarding each other's reputations, or as Bernard of Clairvaux describes it, 'the service of charity.'
James, in his epistle, warns against slandering fellow believers: 'Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it.' Jeremiah, the prophet, spoke of seven abominations in the ancient community that remain relevant today. He cautioned, 'Beware of your friends; do not trust your brothers. For every brother is a deceiver, and every friend is a slanderer.' Mark Twain wisely noted, 'It takes your enemy and your friend working together to hurt you to the quick; the one to slander you and the other to get the news to you.'
While these words may sound harsh, read on, and you'll find agreement.
A Wicked Tongue: Mark Twain's words echo the teachings of Jesus, 'Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.' This principle aligns with Lashon Hara, which is an ethical concept in Hebrew that warns against speaking negatively about others, even if it's true. Such behavior is deemed forbidden and labeled as an 'evil tongue.' Insulting someone with words is considered worse than financial cheating, as words can cause lasting pain. Proverbs 18:8 reinforces this notion, 'The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.'\
Towards Wholeness as a Family: As we contemplate honor, we must acknowledge its counterpart: shame. Dishonoring someone brings shame upon them. While we often think of honor and shame in psychological terms, the Bible ties honor to a person's identity and social standing. Honoring our spiritual leaders is an acknowledgment of their status and calling in God's house. Honor not only restores dignity but also aligns with God's design, as we are all children and heirs of the Most High.
To reintroduce honor into God's family, we must cease gossiping, slandering, and complaining about leaders and fellow believers. This is the most transformative step we can take. Instead, let's follow the path of God's children, esteeming and respecting one another out of a sense of duty, not just warm feelings.
Recognizing our duty as God's people helps us act responsibly in various situations. When leaders neglect to uphold sanctity and honor, God's people must not follow their example. A sense of duty is crucial to preserving honor in God's family, as Proverbs reveals the connection between righteousness, love, life, prosperity, and honor.
Countering the Harlotry: In contrast to the faith community, the world often embraces figurative harlotry, seeking personal gain at the expense of God's glory. In God's house, we seek to magnify our Father's glory, will, and purpose through honor, setting ourselves apart from worldly harlotry. While this may seem idealistic to some, our goal is to rediscover our family principles and the house our Abba built.
Honoring Israel and the Jewish People (Genesis 12:3): Earlier, we emphasized the importance of honoring Israel and the Jewish people due to God's clear command. Let's briefly review their unique distinctions. In Romans, we learn that the Jewish people have an irrevocable calling and election. Honoring them can lead to blessings, as stated in Genesis 12:3.
The Jewish people were personally chosen by God, entering into covenants like the Abrahamic, Land, Davidic, and New Covenants. They were given a specific land and hold a history spanning over three thousand years.
Distinct History: The Jewish people have endured relentless persecution and are central to God's redemptive plan.
Distinct Prophetic Destiny: They hold an irrevocable calling tied to the return of the Lord and the Messianic Order.
Distinct Relationship to the Nations: They are called to be a priestly nation, and blessing them brings blessings to others.
Distinct Identity: They are called God's firstborn son, the apple of His eye, His chosen people, and a peculiar treasure.
Honor parents, feasts, and the Sabbath.
Honor God's holy name, employers, and civil authorities.
Honor fellow believers, spiritual leaders, and preachers of God's Word.
Honor those who live above reproach and wives.
In conclusion, personal efforts to aid the church in becoming a healthier family include ceasing gossip and slander, while demonstrating respect for spiritual leaders. This can be achieved by recognizing our duty and acting accordingly. The community and individuals can bring honor back to the family of God by following these principles.
Additionally, we should be vigilant against the presence of harlotry in the faith community, which seeks personal gain at the expense of God's glory. Honoring Israel and the Jewish people is a biblical imperative, and it involves recognizing their unique distinctions and blessings.
Overall, honoring one another and living out these principles can lead to a more harmonious and blessed family of God."