As we saw in verse 9, your neighbour can can really get up your nose, and be that stone in your shoe and pain in your neck. They can be on you constantly about anything and everything, and you have a choice about how to respond. We can choose to love or to hate them.
First off, lets talk about whom our neighbour in fact is. Jesus told the parable of the despised Samaritan and his care of an Israelite Jew when confronted with the question of who our neighbour is. The Jews considered the Samaritans as Gentiles (non-jews), and therefore treated them with utmost contempt. Jesus was saying that our neighbour is whoever we come into contact with, and regardless of their nature or position or nationality we are to treat them as well as we treat ourselves. The Jews had failed in this, and this parable would have been a big slap in the lawyer’s face. The compassionate Samaritan did a much better job of looking after the Jew than the Jew would have if the situation was reversed!
If you are constantly unhappy about your neighbour, whether they be at work, over the fence, or in parliament, and would love to wrap your fingers around their neck, you are being unforgiving and spiteful.
Proverbs talks of one despising their neighbour because they are “devoid of wisdom”, or literally “lacks heart”. You need to seriously consider your motives with those whom you know, and while they may be sinning against you with the things they say, are you not sinning against them by holding grudges and treating them like faecal matter in your mind?
The alternative is to hold your tongue (and thoughts), and let the issues go. Let it all go and keep the peace if possible. At least be sure to work at the issues from your end, and if you do this with peacefulness, you are practising wisdom. Holding your peace and reaching out in love is probably as good for you as it is for them.
Even among friends our deepest secrets might not be safe. Its a sad truth that while some discerning people will keep your situation or confessed sins to themselves, others will think, “Oh, what a cool story, bro!” and will share it whenever they want to.
The talebearer cares not for the people that get hurt in their reckless sharing. But hey, sharing is caring! Very rarely, actually, is this true. The reason we tell our friends about problems we have in life is to receive prayer or advice, not to advertise everything about our life!
An image I get of this is when in intimate interviews the journalist may ask questions off camera or with the voice recorder switched off that are quite personal, and then uses that info for themselves. The talebearer, and we can guilty of these offences, is unscrupulous in their dealings with friends or acquaintances, sharing willy-nilly the things they discover about them.
The one who has a faithful spirit is a lot more careful about what they tell about someone. They know that the trust their friend has in them is important, and they won’t break that relationship for the opportunity the “delicious” info they know about their friend.
I know how I’d feel if I found a friend/family member telling all about my intimate life to the world, and I sure don’t want to cause anyone else that same feeling of betrayal.
That’s what separates the talebearer from a person with a faithful spirit. It’s a care for other people and a desire to avoid hurting them with our actions. Lets live this out daily.
14 Where there is no counsel, the people fall;
But in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.
Have you ever witnessed what an angry, leaderless mob of people is like? They are like a rampaging monster, tearing at their boundaries, often trampling their own, surging, rushing, screaming a chant. It’s terrifying, especially for the officials, the police included, trying to keep order.
Why is reasoned counsel so important? That’s why! Imagine a whole country in disarray, without any leader or counsellors. Decisions with deep thought and debate are the generally the best ones for a nation. There is safety in numbers. The more number of thinking council members, the better a matter can be carefully dealt with. Everyone can contribute and comes with a way of seeing things that may be crucial to the debate.
Think for example the amount of consideration taken for nations to declare independence from their home country. It would rarely be treated with flippancy and would require many a council meeting to work through the issues of the decision. The wording for these declarations would have to be carefully thought out as well.
Counsel may make for tiring bureaucracy, but can produce a better decision out of a good idea. Both are important.
Of course, the best counsel is that done with the Bible in the forefront of the discussion, and being read concerning the merits of an action. If the Bible condemns an action, it should not be considered. If it extols its virtues, proceed with assurance! Amen.
Thoughts or questions? Write them down in the comment section below!
Are you offended by what I write, or because of God’s Word?
If it’s because of my writing, I’m sorry. I can be harsh when talking about truth and lies. Hopefully you realise I am trying to be loving as well. I can’t apologise for God’s Word, though. Hopefully you are convicted and call on Christ to be your Saviour and King. Cheers.
Note: All scripture is taken from Bible Gateway and is the New King James Version. I am using a commentary by John Kitchen for help with difficult concepts and words.