Proverbs 6:17-19, tells us of the things which God hates, and that we should avoid getting deceived by them. They are: a lying tongue, feet that are swift to run to mischief; hands that shed innocent blood; a heart that devises wicked imaginations; a false witness; haughtiness of eyes; and sowing discord among brethren.
The seventh is very grievous and is as a wound that goes down into the innermost parts of the belly (Prov. 18:8). As easily tempted creatures, we often do the opposite of what God wants us to do. For what I would, that I do not; but what I hate, that I do (Rom. 7:15). Even Jesus’ own disciples, who were so very close to him, were not faultless, and we are no exception.
Those who make such a profession of righteousness as we do should strive earnestly to follow Jesus’ example, and love one another as he loved us and endured so much for our sake. Bitterness and vindictiveness have no part in the lives of true Christians. A statement made may be regarded as innocuous or harmless, but as long as it is spoken to cause bitterness or strife within a united group or family, it is sowing discord. You may think that human nature is so susceptible to wicked, cruel thinking that it is impossible not to cause offence. But the Lord Jesus said, the offence will come, but woe unto that person by whom the offence comes.
In a brotherhood where discord is sown, everything else is taken into consideration except the words of Jesus Christ: love and forgiveness. Let the love of Christ constrain us.
When differences arise
When differences arise, the temptation to get even or get some sort of revenge is so great, that the smallest of opportunities to set one against another is a big gain and seems a worthwhile ambition. We become what the Bible calls hardened – that is self-conceited, convincing ourselves that our actions are justified. We should not falsely accuse one another and then seek ways to justify ourselves. Let us not use any kind of ‘devil’ worship as a cloak to hide our pretentious enthusiasm, for God sees the heart.
The sower of discord often causes more harm than appears on the surface. The party who gets hurt can often suffer for a long time. For example, a false accuser will make harsh statements based upon a lie, and when the truth is revealed, the accused may not get over it easily. A person with a strong personality can affect the minds of others without realizing the hurt caused by his words. A good word may not always turn away wrath, but it may change bitter and evil thoughts.
When Paul was taken before the Jewish Council at Jerusalem, and was quite unlawfully struck on the mouth, his first response was some very harsh words (Acts 23:3). But he was big and honest enough to admit that he should not have “spoken evil” of God’s high priest, however unworthy he was in that office, and that his initial reaction has been unscriptural (v. 5).
Straight from the heart
The seven abominations that God hates are related in various ways, but have one thing in common: they all come straight from the heart (Mark 7:18-23). If we have a desire to be in God’s kingdom, we must guard against such ugliness in all its disguises. One very tempting disguise is: I am defending the purity of the Truth. We have to face that one fair and square: outwardly it is pretty, but make no mistake, it’s a disguise; it sounds noble, but may hide an evil heart. And we need to remember: the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God (James 1:20). As leading elder of the church in Jerusalem, no doubt James had seen the evil caused by angry and self-righteous brethren fighting stubbornly to prop up their own cause.
There is a little member of the body which is very unruly: the tongue. It is hard to tame. It is set on fire of hell. It is full of deadly poison. We will one day give account to Judge Jesus of our idle words. Our tongues must be used wisely.
We should all try to develop a positive line of Christian character, which will grow into a well-shaped way of life, and leave no room for trouble. At this stage, it is then easier to introduce love into our lives and put to flight those evil, embittered thoughts and feelings which so often dampen the Christ-like spirit within us. Let us also be careful of our behaviour patterns, which can so easily destroy our spiritual enthusiasm for Christ.
Let us pray this prayer. We all need it
Lord, help me to be always watchful of my attitudes. Help me to love and forgive. Help me to be a hearer only of truth, which will create unity and peace. Help me to be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker wherever I am. As I strive for truth and justice, Lord, may I do so with humility. Help me to be more like your son, Jesus Christ, so that finally I will obtain a place in your everlasting kingdom. Amen.
Marjorie Harley, Royal Flat, Jamaica