OceanSide church of Christ
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SUBTLE EVILS AGAINST OTHERS
Victor M. Eskew
Christianity is all about people and relationships. When we obey the gospel, we become part of the family of God. Other Christians are now our brothers and sisters in Christ. Too, as Christians we have been taken out of the world, but we must live within the world. Thus, we must continue to associate with those who have not named the name of Christ.
The Bible tells us how we are to relate to one another both in and out of the church. The basic principle has been called “The Golden Rule.” Jesus taught this “rule” in Matthew 7:12. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” In essence, “how” I want to be treated is the way that I should treat others. Most of us want to be treated with respect, decency, and courtesy. If so, this is how we are to treat others. There are numerous other verses that could be considered in this discussion, but this one verse is enough. It teaches us to treat others well, with kindness, courtesy, and love. Why? Because this is how we want others to treat us.
We, however, do not always abide by the Golden Rule. We sometimes treat others in ways that we would not want to be treated. Sometimes our evils are overt and aggressive. Most of the time, they take on very subtle forms. Because they are subtle, we can stay in denial about how evil the actions really are. Let’s look at some examples of the subtle evils we commit against others from time to time.
One of the most common forms of subtle evils involves coolness. When we see another person, there may or may not be a handshake. The greeting might be with very little energy. It might be just a “hi” or ‘good morning” under one’s breath. We then turn from the person believing that we have “done our duty” to them.
The evils in treating another with a cold shoulder are twofold. First, it treads upon the divine command to love one another with a pure heart fervently (I Pet. 1:22). The word “fervently” means “to be hot” or “to boil.” A cool greeting is not a warm welcome. Only the latter is divinely authorized. Second, the one who is treated in a cool manner notes that he/she is treated differently than others. Thus, he notes that his brother or sister does not have the “same love” (Phil. 2:2) for him as he does for others.
Another form of subtle evil involves fault-finding. There will always be some people who are “hard” to get along with in the church. It may be due to numerous different factors. Sometimes when another person rubs us the wrong way, we start looking for all of their faults. Before we know it, we have a large file of faults that we have compiled. At first, we may not tell any of these faults to others. Eventually, however, we can’t help ourselves. We let them out to others one or two at a time. With close friends, we may open and examine the entire file to have some “fun.”
Fault-finding might be okay if we were perfect. The reality is, however, that we are not. If another so desired, he could start a file on us. Some of the things collected against us might be similar to those in the file we have against another. Jesus addressed fault-finding during His earthly sojourn. He said: “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:1-5).
A third subtle evil against others involve talebearing. A talebearer is one who bears tales, informs on others, slanders others, and one who likes to produce scandal. Not all of these definitions involve what we might call devilish types of behavior. A talebearer can be one who just likes to run his/her mouth about another’s business. These individuals are like buzzards. They look for any and every “tasty morsel” they can find on others. Then, they enjoy spreading these tidbits to others.
There are six verses in the Old Testament that specifically mention the talebearer. Two verses define the talebearer. “A talebearer revealeth secrets…” (Prov. 11:3; 20:19). Two speak of the harm done by the talebearer. “The words of a talebearer are as wounds…” (Prov. 18:8; 26:22). One reveals the blessing of not having a talebearer in one’s midst. “…so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth” (Prov. 26:20). The sixth verse is a divine command against talebearing. “Thou shalt not go upon and down as a talebearer among they people…” (Lev. 19:16).
Yes, most Christians do not overtly seek to bring harm to others. They know that God has commanded them to love others (John 13:34-35) and to practice the Golden Rule. Sadly, Christians have learned that evil can be done to others in subtle ways. Coolness, fault-finding, and talebearing are three of these subtle means. These three things can do tremendous harm to others. These things are so subtle, however, that others do not immediately see them practiced. Rest assured that God sees (Heb. 4:13). Let’s seek to rid these subtle evils from our treatment of others. We do not want to be treated in such ways. If not, we should not practice these things on others.