May 21: The Power of Words
1 Chronicles 9:1–10:14; 1 Timothy 5:18–6:2; Psalm 79:1–13
Gossip kills churches. And gossip is always painful, especially when disguised as concern. A request to “pray for so-and-so because of this thing they did” is not asking for prayer; it’s gossiping. If you know some personal detail about someone’s mishap, don’t share it with everyone—take it to God. Entire leadership structures have been wrongfully destroyed because of rumors starting this way.
Paul warns against rumors when he says, “Do not accept an accusation against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses” (1 Tim 5:19). How often have we heard something and been so influenced by it that we accuse someone on the basis of that rumor? Hearing something may make it feel factual, but it’s circumstantial at best.
Although Paul is cautious, he has no tolerance for leaders who sin repeatedly, especially those sinning directly against the community. He tells Timothy to “reprove those who sin in the presence of all, in order that the rest also may experience fear” (1 Tim 5:20). The fear Paul means is a good kind; it keeps people from sinning. It’s not just a fear of getting caught, but an understanding that there are ramifications for the abuse of power or lack of godly conduct.
Paul is not creating a legalistic system here; instead, he is focusing on making people feel what God feels when they sin. They shouldn’t be consumed with guilt, but they should feel enough shame in their actions to realize that they need grace—that they need to step out of a leadership position if they misuse their power. Paul doesn’t demand that these people be cast out of the community. He requires that such leaders be reconciled to the faith community and be made an example so that others don’t do the same.
Paul’s entire framework is based on his assumption that leaders will be godly; he provided details for determining that standard earlier (e.g., 1 Tim 3:1–12). Leaders who fall short must be held accountable. And above all, leaders must be chosen wisely. If they live and conduct themselves in line with God’s work, they will have no need to fear accusations against them.
How can you help establish and support a correct leadership structure in your faith community? How can you help stop any false accusations or gossip?
JOHN D. BARRY
- Thus all Israel were numbered by their genealogies: and behold, they are written in the book of the Kings of Israel and of Judah, and they were carried away to Babel for their transgression. And the chief inhabitants that dwelt in their own possessions, and in their own cities even Israel, the Priests, the Levites, and the Nethinum. And in Jerusalem dwelt of the children of Judah, and of the children of Benjamin, and of the children of Ephraim, and Manasseh. Uthai the son of Ammihud the son of Omri, the son of Imri, the son of Bani, of the children of Perez, the son of Judah. And of Shiloni, Asaiah the eldest, and his sons. And the sons of Zerah, Jeuel, and their brethren six hundred and ninety. And of the sons of Benjamin, Sallu, the son of Meshullam, the son of Hodaviah, the son of Hassenuah. And Ibneiah the son of Jeroham, and Elah the son of Uzzi, the son of Michri, and Meshullam the son of Shephatiah, the son of Reuel the son of Ibnijah. And their brethren according to their generations nine hundred, fifty and six: all these men were chief fathers in the households of their fathers. And of the Priests, Jedaiah, and Jehoiarib, and Jachin, And Azariah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub the chief of the house of God, And Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pashur, the son of Malchijah, and Maasai the son of Adiel, the son of Jahzerah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Meshillemith, the son of Immer. And their brethren the chief of the households of their fathers, a thousand seven hundred and threescore valiant men, for the work of the service of the house of God. And of the Levites, Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, of the sons of Merari, And Bakbakkar, Heresh and Galal, and Martaniah the son of Micah, the son of Zichri, the son of Asaph, And Obadiah the son of Shemaiah, teh son of Galal, the son fo Jeduthun, and Berechiah the son of Asa, teh son of Elkanah, that dwelt in the villages of the Netophathites. And the porters were Shallum, and Akkub, and Talmon, and Ahiman, and their brethren: Shallum was the chief. For they were porters to this time by companies of the children of Levi unto the King’s gate Eastward. And Shallum the son of Kore the son of Ebiasaph the son of Korah, and his brethren the Korahites (of the house of their father) were over the work, and office to keep the gates of the Tabernacle: so their families were over the host of the Lord keeping the entry. And Phinehas the son of Eleazar was their guide, and the Lord was with him. Zechariah the son of Meshelemiah was the porter of the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. All these were chosen for porters of the gates, two hundred and twelve, which were numbered according to their genealogies by their towns. David established these, and Samuel the Seer in their perpetual office. So they and their children had the oversight of the gates of the house of the Lord, even of the house of the Tabernacle by wards. The porters were in four quarters Eastward, Westward, Northward and Southward. And their brethren, which were in their towns, came at seven days from time to time with them. For these four chief porters were in perpetual office, and were of the Levites, and had charge of the chambers, and of the treasures in the house of God. And they lay round about the house of God, because the charge was theirs, and they caused it to be opened every morning. And certain of them had the rule of the ministering vessels: for they brought them in by tally, and brought them out by tally. Some of them also were appointed over the instruments, and over all the vessels of the Sanctuary, and of the flour, and the wine, and the oil, and the incense, and the sweet odors. And certain of the sons of the Priests made ointments of sweet odors. And certain of the sons of the Priest made ointments of sweet odors. And Mattithaiah one of the Levites which was the eldest son of Shallum the Korahite, had the charge of the things that were made in the frying pan. And other of their brethren the sons of Kohath had the oversight of the showbread to prepare it every Sabbath. And these are the singers, the chief fathers of the Levites, which dwelt in the chambers, and had none other charge: for they had to do in that business day and night. These were the chief fathers of the Levites according to their generations, and the principal which dwelt at Jerusalem. And in Gibeon dwelt the father of Gibeon, Jeiel, and the name of his wife was Maachah. And his eldest son was Abdon, then Zur, and Kish, and Baal, and Ner, and Nadab, And Gedor, and Ahio, and Zechariah, and Mikloth. And Mikloth begat Shimeam: they also dwelt with their brethren at Jerusalem, even by their brethren. And Ner begat Kish, and Kish begat Saul, and Saul begat Jonathan, and Malchishua, and Abinadab and Esh-Baal. And the son of Jonathan was Merib-Baal, and Merib-Baal begat Micah. And the sons of Micah were Pithon, and Melech and Tahrea. And Ahaz begat Jarah, and Jarah begat Alemeth, and Azmaveth, and Zimri, and Zimri begat Moza. And Moza begat Binea, whose son was Rephaiah, and his son was Eleasah, and his son Azel. And Azel had six sons, whose names are these, Azrikam, Bocheru, and Ismael, and Sheariah, and Obadiah, and Hanan: these are the sons of Azel. Then the Philistines fought against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa. And the Philistines pursued after Saul and after his sons, and the Philistines smot Jonathan, and Abinadab,, and Malchishua the sons of Saul. And the battle was sore against Saul, and the archers hit him, and he was wounded of the archers. Then said Saul to his armor-bearer, Draw out thy sword, and thrust me through therewith, lest these uncircumcised come and mock at me: but his armor-bearer would not, for he was sore afriad: therefore Saul took the sword, and fell upon it. And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon the sword, and died. So Saul died, and his three sons, and all his house, they died together. And when all the men of Israel that were in the valley, saw how they fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook their cities and fled away, and the Philistines came and dwelt in them. And on the morrow when the Philistines came to spoil them that were slain, they found Saul and his sons lying in mount Gilboa. And when they had stripped hin, they took his head and his armor, and sent them into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it unto their idols, and to the people. And they laid up his armor in the house of their god, and set up his head in the house of Dagon. When all they of Jabesh Gilead heard all that the Philistines had done to Saul, Then they arose (all the valiant men) and took the body of Saul, and the bodies of his sons, and brought them to Jabesh, and buried the bones of them under an oak in Jabesh, and fasted seven days. So Saul died for his transgression that he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord which he kept not, and in that he sought and asked counsel of a familiar spirit. And asked not of the Lord: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse. 1 Chronicles 9:1–10:14
- For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn: and, The laborer is worthy of his wages. Against an Elder receive none accusation, but under two or three witnesses. Them that sin, rebuke openly, that the rest also may fear. I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect Angels, that thou observe these things, without preferring one to another, and do nothing partially. Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins; keep thyself pure. Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, and thine often infirmities. Some men’s sins are open before hand, and go before unto judgment: but some men’s follow after. Likewise also the good works are manifest before hand, and they that are otherwise, cannot be hid. Let as many servants as are under the yoke, count their masters worthy of all honor, that the Name of God, and his doctrine be not evil spoken of. And they which have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren, but rather do service, because they are faithful, and beloved, and partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. 1 Timothy 5:18–6:2
- O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance: thine holy Temple have they defiled, and made Jerusalem heaps of stones. The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto fowls of the heaven, and the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth. Their blood have they shed like waters, round about Jerusalem, and there was none to bury them. We are a reproach to our neighbors, even a scorn and derision unto them that are round about us. Lord, how long wilt thou be angry, forever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire? Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy Name. For they have delivered Jacob, and made his dwelling place desolate. Remember not against us the former iniquities, but make hast, and let thy tender mercies prevent us: for we are in great misery. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy Name, and deliver us, and be merciful unto our sins for thy Name’s sake. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let them be known among the heathen in our sight by the vengeance of the blood of thy servants that is shed. Let the sighing of the prisoners come before thee: according to thy mighty arm preserve the children of death, And render to our neighbors sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord. So we thy people, and sheep of thy pasture shall praise thee forever: and from generation to generation we will set forth thy praise. Psalm 79:1–13