Over the years there has been quite the debate over the timing of the rapture. Some believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, some a mid-tribulation/pre-wrath rapture, and others a post-tribulation rapture. I personally believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, but that’s not what I’m wanting to write about today. No matter what your position is, the point I’m wanting to make is that we need to be ready when that time comes.
In Matthew 24:45-51, and in Luke 12:42-48, Jesus is telling us a parable relating to the time of His return. Specifically, Jesus is speaking of those who think, for whatever reason, that He is delaying His return. One of the dangers for those who do not believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, as well as those who do but don’t believe it’s anytime soon, is that they begin to lower their guard and not keep themselves and their relationship with Christ in check. In the parable, Jesus mentions that those who think He’s delaying His return will begin to beat their fellow servants. What is He talking about? Do we see or hear of Christians beating up other Christians? Well, not necessarily in a physical sense, but it is happening. It’s happening in a way that many consider inconsequential or of very little importance. Let’s take a brief look at how some Christians are beating up on other Christians, and perhaps don’t even realize that they’re doing that.
In James 3:1-12, we’re told of the damage and destruction the tongue can cause. In Luke 6:45, we’re told that it’s out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, and in Jeremiah 17:9 we read that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. The heart that is not being submitted to and transformed by God, remains wicked and self-centered, and as a result the tongue will reflect the condition of one’s heart for all to see. James tells us that what comes out of our mouths will be good or bad, showing us that to have both good and bad come out of the same mouth is incompatible and can’t be done. As Christians, our mouths should only have good coming from it, which would reflect a heart changed and transformed by God.
Having said that, what are some ways that our tongue can be used to beat up on fellow Christians? To begin with, we need to realize that pride is what keeps one from bridling their tongue. Pride tells one that they don’t have to pay attention, or even submit their tongue, to the Lordship of Christ. In Ephesians 4:29, were instructed to not let any corrupt word proceed out of our mouths, but only that which is good for necessary edification to others. To allow corrupt speech to proceed from our mouths, or to take a relaxed and apathetic approach to what we say, is in direct contradiction to what we’re commanded to do, and that is pride within our hearts.
So, what are some ways that our tongue can be used against fellow Christians? When we are being judgmental or critical towards others, we are beating up on them. When we speak ill of another believer, we’re beating up on them, too. When we lie about or slander them, we’re beating up on them. When we talk to them, or about them, in a way that implies we’re better than them, then we are beating them up. When we complain or murmur about someone or some situation, we’re beating someone up. When we back bite someone, or when we gossip about them, we’re beating them up. Some may argue that if the other person doesn’t hear or know about any of this, then it’s not beating them up, but God says differently. Besides, He not only hears everything we say, but He knows our thoughts and attitudes towards those people, which shows Him what our heart is really like on the inside. In Matthew 12:36-37, Jesus tells us that we will be judged for every idle word we say, and that by our words we will either be justified or condemned. That can be a scary thing to think about.
How important are the words we say to and about other Christians? Our speech, and the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts, creates divisions and a hostile environment within the body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, writing about what we call the Lord’s Supper and how it was being miss-handled, the Apostle Paul tells us that such divisions within the body of Christ are the very reasons why some are weak, sick, and even dead among us. This should tell you how serious God views an unrestrained tongue by those who take on the name of Christ and call themselves Christians.
Many of us know what it means to be judgmental and critical of others, to speak ill of someone, too complain or murmur, or to view or imply that someone is inferior to us. But what about gossip? How is that so bad? I believe a gossip and a busybody are oftentimes the same person. A busybody feels compelled to learn all they can about a person or situation, feeling unfulfilled if they don’t know all the details. A gossip on the other hand, feels compelled to tell others all that they know of a person or situation, and they can’t wait to seize or create an opportunity to share the latest they’ve learned. Gossips find satisfaction in making someone else’s business everyone else’s business. Nowhere in Scripture are we encouraged or told it’s okay to share with others what we know about people and situations, but instead were told to basically keep our mouths shut. Being a gossip does a couple of things that is unhealthy to the body of Christ. First, it gives others information that can jade or have a negative effect on how others view and interact with the person that was the subject of the gossip. Second, it creates a sense of distrust and division with others who are afraid of what the gossiper will say about them to others, not wanting their business to become everyone else’s business. It destroys trust and a sense of privacy with others. God doesn’t view gossip as a minor issue, but instead speaks of it in a very serious way. Here is an interesting article about gossip from a Biblical perspective; https://lifehopeandtruth.com/relationships/communication/taming-the-tongue/.
What we need to remember, is that Jesus is coming back at any time, and that it is imperative for us to actively keep our tongues in check, as well as to evaluate the condition of our own hearts that is seen through the words we say. It’s easy for us to fall into the trap of beating up others, including fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and we need to be proactive to not let that be a part of our life, which will subsequently have a significant negative effect on our witness as a follower of Jesus. If you find that one or more of the above types of speech has been a part of your life, now is the time to change that, and the only real way to change that is first through repentance and then through the continual submission of your thoughts and words to the obedience of Christ, which includes focusing on what we find in Philippians 4:8 and that which is edifying to others. Time is short, so don’t delay. Even if you believe that Christ isn’t coming back anytime soon, it is imperative that you keep yourself from beating up on others through your speech.