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Archive for the ‘Morals’ Category

Three Tips for Stopping Gossip

April 21, 2014

John Allan

Dictionary.com defines gossip as “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.” New Testament teaching about how we should use our tongue shows that gossip is not appropriate for Christians (1 Timothy 5:13, Colossians 3:8, Ephesians 4:29).

We should not be fooled into thinking that gossip is something that only one gender participates in. The truth is: many men gossip too!

Gossip can damage a congregation and thus hurt the influence of the Church of Christ in the community. On an individual level, it can hurt your reputation and influence. Let us consider three things we can do to stop gossip.

1. Don’t Start It!

The New Testament urges us to put of “filthy language” (Colossians 3:8) and to “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29; NKJV)

These warnings would not be limited to gossip, but would certainly include it.

We should refuse to use our tongue in ways displeasing to God. We should think carefully about every word we say. Jesus warned: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36; NKJV)

If we can remember that we will have to give account of every word we say it will help us use our tongue properly.

2. Don’t Spread It

We can choose the words that we say, but we cannot stop everybody else from speaking. This means that even if we do not start gossip, somebody near us might. If somebody shares gossip with us we should choose to leave it alone instead of spreading it to others. Instead of participating in somebody else’s sin (consider the principle in 2 John 11 and Ephesians 5:7) we should hold our tongue and refuse to help the gossip spread.

Try to use love and wisdom to stop gossip instead of spreading hearsay and potentially harmful information. “A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.” (Proverbs 11:13; NKJV) “He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends” (Proverbs 17:9; NKJV).

If your companions come to realize that you are not going to participate in gossip, they will likely stop gossiping to you eventually.

 3. Don’t Speculate

Gossip spreads rapidly because people would rather speculate than search. It is a lot easier to say “Did you hear about…” than to verify information. It is much easier to spread gossip than to stop it because spreading it is incredibly easy.

Instead of speculating about somebody, get the information from the source. Have you heard a rumor floating around about a brother or sister? Do not repeat the matter, ask them about it and see if it is true. This does not mean we can never use reliable sources, but it does mean that instead of relying on speculation as if it were fact we need to establish what the facts are.

Not surprisingly, this approach is consistent with what Jesus taught for addressing somebody who sins against you (Matthew 18:15-17). Instead of idly speculating, go to the source and establish the facts. We should be more interested in having our facts straight than in having an easy conversation.

 

Conclusion:

  1. Gossip can ruin the happiness and harmony of a congregation, and we need to stay on guard against it.
  2. Gossip can ruin your example as a Christian and keep your light from shining in the world as it ought.
  3. Let us develop the reputation of being people who speak truth, speak to edify, and speak with love (Ephesians 4:29-32).
  4. Use your words wisely and well.

 

Posted in Morals, Sermons

The Heart of the Matter is the Heart

July 11, 2011

John Allan

There is simply no getting around the fact that the heart is vitally important. We can tell when people are doing something “from the heart” or with all of their heart and we can often tell when somebody gives a “half-hearted” effort. We even have expressions like “his heart just wasn’t in it” to describe a lack of desire or commitment.

In Jesus’ day the scribes and Pharisees placed great emphasis on external actions. While binding such things as hand washing before meals they were failing to emphasize the heart. Jesus explained to the apostle Peter “Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man” (Matthew 15:17-20 KJV).

There are so many things in the world that threaten to pollute our heart and so many sins that come from a heart that is polluted. Great care must be given to keep our hearts clean.

The Bible warns us about fleshly lusts frequently enough that the topic cannot be rightly ignored. The lust of the flesh is one of the avenues through which Satan tempts us. We can look around us in the world and see that he is very successful. It logically follows that we should not trick ourselves into thinking it is a matter we can take lightly.

In Galatians 5:16 the apostle Paul gives us a key to keeping our hearts clean: “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (KJV). Let us have the determination to keep ourselves unspotted from the world.

Posted in Morals

Swift to Hear

February 7, 2011

John Allan

James 1:19 gives us the ingredients for communicating with others: “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (NKJV).

James’ recipe has just three parts. Consider them briefly:

Part #1: Be swift to hear.

How many problems are created because somebody failed to listen properly? I do not have any idea, but I am certain the number is astronomical. It takes training to listen carefully and even more determination to want to listen carefully.

Could you imagine if a boss ordered their employee to place an order for seventeen items but the employee did not listen closely and heard “seventy”! Is listening closely important? Absolutely!

If we do not listen carefully we might miss something important, and that could make all the difference. Many arguments would never start and much grief would be avoided if we made it a point to take the time to listen.

Part #2: Be slow to speak.

Sometimes our failure to be slow to speak is the same reason we are not swift to hear: we want so badly to say something that we do not pay attention to what is being said to us. We are just waiting for them to close their mouth so that we can open ours. This is a good way to start an argument but a bad way to communicate.

At other times we are not slow to speak because we do not take the time process what we have heard. Have you ever been pressured to make a decision quickly and later regretted the decision that you made? A little more time would have been helpful!

One danger of speaking too quickly is that by doing so you might speak before you have all the facts on the matter. It is better to be patient than to have to make a retraction later.

Over the years I have written on many topics and communicated with many people. I have made it a personal policy on some matters to force myself to wait 24 hours to comment. Particularly in heated issues we do well to breathe and give our mind time to make sense of what is going on.

It should also be noted that sometimes the best response to a particular matter might be to keep your mouth closed. Something that had your blood boiling and demanded a response one day might not be as infuriating once you have had time to consider it with a calm mind. Even if it does still demand a response you will be able to reply more sensibly.

It is worth the wait.

Part #3: Be slow to wrath.

If you cannot do the first two ingredients then you will probably wind up missing the third, too. If you do not pay attention to what somebody is saying to you and then throw out your remarks with haste then the odds are good that you will soon have a full-blown argument on your hands.

Some folks like to argue. They enjoy being angry and making others angry, too. This is not in keeping with James 1:19.

How are you at communicating? Do you listen well? Do you think before you speak? If you do both of those things you will spare yourself a lot of anger and frustration. While the three parts we have considered are helpful in any communication they are particularly helpful to keep in mind during intense and heated moments.

It has been said that he who keeps his tongue keeps his soul. The way we communicate is important to God. Strive to do so in a way that meets with His approval.

Posted in Bible, Morals

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

February 18, 2010

John Allan

In the early verses of John 9 we read about Jesus healing a man who was born blind. In verse four Jesus asserts to his disciples “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”

We understand that integrity and discipline are involved in doing things in a timely manner. Even when we struggle with procrastination (you’ll get around to admitting it some day) we recognize that it is not the ideal way to handle things. Yet, every once in awhile it is good to have that reminder that we must “make hay while the sun shines.” In other words, when we are able to do something, let’s do something!

This past weekend was a humbling one for me. I had my spiritual batteries re-charged from the lectureships I had attended and was excited about jumping head-first back into work. Then Saturday came and my health had other plans. As I spent much of the weekend lying on my back weak, miserable and exhausted I was reminded of how plans can change. There is a lot about my life that I cannot control nor predict. What I can control is what I do with the opportunities that are presented to me.

Jesus said “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luke 16:10-11). Sometimes we spend our time thinking about the “much” (some great thing we are going to do in the future) and forget to be busy doing the “least” (the little things that we can do today).

Are you saving your energy waiting for one great big thing you can do for the Lord? Or are you taking advantage of opportunities to do things right now in His service? They might not be flashy things; and they might not be things that are particularly noticeable. They are, however, things that equip us for greater service in the future and ensure that we are using our time here on earth wisely.

Scripture taken from the King James Version®. Copyright © 1989 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Posted in Morals

Discipline

February 1, 2010

Blake Watson

It might have escaped your notice, as it nearly did mine, but the Winter Olympics will be starting soon. No doubt those who watch the games will see many athletes perform at high levels and make incredibly difficult things look easy.

How do they do that? The answer is simple. They practice, practice and practice some more. By the time the Olympics come they are showcasing talent that has been produced by years of hard work. You will not find a single participant in the games who started training only a week before arriving in Vancouver. They can make it look easy because they are prepared.

That preparation takes discipline. Their discipline can serve as a reminder of the discipline we should have as Christians. Paul, who often alluded to athletics in his writing, said “And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown” (1 Corinthians 9:25; NKJV).

Notice Paul’s point in that verse. Athletes go to great lengths to make sure they are in peak condition when they compete for their victory crown. They are careful about what they eat, how they train and what they do. They go to those lengths because they seek a crown; even though that crown is temporary. It is physical and one day will go the way of all the earth: it will perish.

The race we are running is the Christian race. We are on our way to Heaven and an incorruptible crown that awaits us there. If a gold medal is enough to motivate thousands of athletes to do all they can to be in peak fitness, how can Heaven fail to inspire us?

May we remember the encouraging words of the Hebrews writer: “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1b; NKJV).

Our crown will be eternal, but we will not receive it without discipline. “Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:26-27; NKJV).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted in Morals

Can a man and wife divorce for any reason?

July 21, 2009

John Allan

Marriage is a union of two people who have vowed to each other before God and other witnesses that they will forsake all others and cleave to each other through good times and bad, in sickness and in health, for better or worse. Obviously, people today aren’t taking this as seriously as they should. There is only one God given reason for a husband or wife to leave their marriage partner and marry another. That reason is fornication. Notice the following verses.

In Matthew 5:31-32 our Lord says, “It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

Again in Matthew 19:3-9 (parallel passage: Mark 10:2-12), the Pharisees test Jesus by bringing up this same question. “The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”

In Luke 16:18, Jesus simply says, “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”

Although the apostle Paul was only using marriage and divorce as an illustration to make a point in Romans 7:2-3, we can still apply this illustration to our question here. Paul states, “For the woman that hath a husband is bound by law to the husband while he liveth; but if the husband die, she is discharged from the law of the husband. So then if, while the husband liveth, she be joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if the husband die, she is free from the law, so that she is no adulteress, though she be joined to another man.”

Also, the apostle Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, in 1 Corinthians 7:10 wrote, “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:” He goes on to say in verse 11, “But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” Those people, who divorce for some reason other than adultery, cannot marry again. The only choice they have is to be reconciled to the husband/wife they left behind or to remain unmarried.

As we have seen from the above passages, there is only one reason God has given for divorce and that is the unfaithfulness of one of the marriage partners. What will be the final reward for those who do such things? Romans 1:28-32 says, “…they which commit such things are worthy of death…”. Galatians 5:19-21 lists adultery and fornication along side of murder and witchcraft; it’s just as evil to commit adultery as it is to murder someone. These verses show that those who commit adultery are worthy of death and will not inherit the kingdom of God. What can the adulterer do to avoid the punishment that awaits him? He or she would have to confess their sins and repent of them. In order to repent of the sin of adultery, one must end his adulterous relationship and either return to his/her mate or remain unmarried (1 Corinthians 7:10 quoted above).

Posted in Morals

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