Verax

Verax: The True History of Whistleblowers, Drone Warfare, and Mass Surveillance: A Graphic NovelVerax: The True History of Whistleblowers, Drone Warfare, and Mass Surveillance: A Graphic Novel by Pratap Chatterjee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Recently, I became an iPhone owner again after several years with a “not so smart” phone. I have been amazed by its capabilities (and sometimes disturbed). For instance, my phone knows my habits. When I open the home screen, it will suggest destinations on the maps, based on the days of the week where I go certain places. That is just a little creepy.

Creepier still is the network of information that our government has access to on us, and on many people all around the world. Even creepier is how they use that information, based on data matrices to schedule the done killings of suspected terrorists based on metadata. Creepiest yet is how they sometimes get their data wrong and kill innocent people.

That’s the world that Chatterjee explores in his book Verax. In this book, Chatterjee is shaken when someone that he meets along the way, an innocent young man, is mistakenly a casualty of a drone attack. This sends him on a hunt to examine how intelligence contractors develop systems of information collection, how intelligence agencies collate that information and how the military uses it to pick targets and eliminate targets.

Along the way, Chatterjee examines the treatment of whistleblowers who have went through the proper channels, and the harassment that they have endured from the government. Then, as he goes through stories, such as Edward Snowden or Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, I can completely sympathize with the reasons that they felt driven to go to the media instead of the appropriate NSA whistleblowing channels.

Peppered with interviews of those who have worked within the drone program and those who have lost innocent loved ones, this is a truly damning work for the military-industrial complex, regardless of which political party is in power. It’s powerful as it examines how the material is collected and analyzed, how the drone targeting works, and how little margin of error there is in targeting an innocent individual and a known terrorist.

Chatterjee has an obvious agenda here, and I think that his agenda is to end the drone targeting systems because the abundance of proof is that old-fashioned intelligence and police work simply works better. Several times the statement is made that non-American lives are not valued as much as American lives by our government and their intelligence systems. That seems a little harsh and biased, but that also doesn’t mean that Chatterjee does not have the truth in his analysis here. If we cannot be sure that we are targeting the right person, we simply cannot afford to randomly target innocent people.

We also cannot continue in the collection of information on our own citizens. It breaks our constitution and it does not make our country a safer place. Otherwise there would not be the almost weekly shootings that we hear about in the media.

I am uncomfortable with a world in which people like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning are heroes. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and yet, I struggle to believe that they are anything but bold and courageous in their willingness to go outside the system and outside the usual channels to make sure that information is actually given to the American public.

Snowden said that his greatest fear was that he would be prosecuted or executed as a traitor and yet nothing would change. Although there are new laws in place, there are also new technologies in place. Drone attacks are on the rise, and not on the fall, and the targeting does not seem to have improved if the reports of civilian casualties are to be believed. We also also increasingly inviting digital information collectors into our homes as we become more addicted and obsessed with our technology. According to Amazon, their Echo was the largest seller this year on Black Friday. Echo is on standby, able to listen all the time, able to collect information and to continue to perpetuate the collection of data available to prying eyes.

We are a democracy now, but we may not always be. Enemies also can gain access to the data that is hoarded so and collected so doggedly. That makes for a brave new world any way that you look at it.

(By the way, I purchased this book on Amazon.com, and read it on my Kindle.  A Kindle is a wonderful device for reading a graphic novel as you can read in a mode that allows you to read one frame at a time.)

Advertisements

Nothing Less: Engaging Kids in A Lifetime of Faith

Nothing Less: Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of FaithNothing Less: Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith by Jana Magruder

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We often wonder what the formula is to passing on our faith to our children. We look for it in parenting books, in sermons, in lifestyle choices and in consultation with our peers. However, the trends all show that our culture is increasingly secular, with more and more of our children turning away from our faith. As a matter of fact, many faith-filled families are de-emphasizing faith in their parenting to pursue goals of worldly pleasure and practical achievement.

So, what’s a parent to do? How do we pass on our faith?

Although there is no foolproof method or formula for passing on faith, the research does not lie, and research shows 10 strong influencers on spiritual health that can guide parents into making better choices for their children.

Despite the ten influencers, head and shoulders above them all is whether or not your child reads the Bible. There is nothing that is more influential on your child than when they consistently read God’s word and parents and teachers show them how to apply it to their lives. (As for the other spiritual influencers, telling them would be a spoiler ūüôā )

As I read this book, I found the spiritual influencers to be pretty clear and straightforward. I also found that many of these things were things that I already knew. There were also a few surprises, and a few things that I thought would be influential on children that did not make the top ten.

The book is quite lovely. There are beautiful illustrations, graphs, infographics and quotes sprinkled throughout. It’s an appealing book to read and a helpful one.

There were two cons to this book that made me lower it from a 4 star to a 3 start rating. I totally never got the percentages of spiritual health and what they were equivalent to. I also struggled to understand what was considered to be the goal in spiritual healthiness. I would have liked the book to more strongly spell out what makes someone spiritually healthy versus not. Although I think I had a general idea of what they were going for, and I understood the thrust of what we were looking at, I still would have liked some more clarity with the numbers, meaning and goals.

I also find it concerning when we start looking at numbers and markers like we’re putting together a formula for what makes children spiritual. It’s my understanding that our salvation is by faith alone, through God’s grace alone, and the feel of this book is a little too pragmatic and a little too formulaic for me, even with their acknowledgment that God is the one that provides the spiritual growth and the increase. I worry that parents and children/youth workers will look at these numbers and influencers and devise a works based salvation plan where, “If you do x, y, z, then your child will be spiritually healthy.” I think truly spiritually healthy parents tend to show their faith to their children in such a way that their children see it.

As I was writing this review, my ten year old daughter came up to me, and was telling me a couple of ways she is serving and having a job to do with some Christmas performances and church and at her homeschool Bible study. She told me that she feels like God is putting her in places where she can use her talent. She says that this is part of how she knows what her talent is. God is giving her the opportunity to use the talents and it reaffirms that she should continue to develop them. Having a responsibility to do at church and being able to serve there is spiritual influencer number three on the list (and the survey said this is as important as prayer in influencing children). I was thrilled to see how this influence is playing out in her life as a way to build her faith. I have many times struggled to see how children have a place at church, and I can only thank God that this influence has developed in her life without me even doing a lot to encourage it.

View all my reviews

Reproach

I’ve been working my way slowly through Psalm 15, looking at the external behaviors of the righteous man, and I have been parked on verse 3 for quite some time. ¬†Psalm 15:3 says,

He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.

I’ve spent a long time on backbiting, and I felt like not doing evil to your neighbor is pretty obvious. ¬†Not taking up a reproach is a little more obvious than backbiting, but there was still some that I wanted to learn about it, and so I’ve decided to spend just one post on reproach.

First, we need to define reproach. ¬†I looked in the Webster’s 1828 dictionary and found several definitions. ¬†I’m going be using the noun definitions since the word is translated as a noun in Psalm 15.

  1. Censure mingled with contempt or derision; contumelious or opprobrious language towards any person; abusive reflections; as foul mouthed reproach
  2. Shame; infamy; disgrace.
  3. Object of contempt, scorn or derision
  4. That which is the subject of shame or disgrace

I should not shame others.  I should not hold them in disgrace.  I should not use hateful language towards others, especially when I am correcting them.  I should not make anyone the object of disgrace or hatred.  I should never laugh at anyone in hatred.  I might have done some of these before, especially given my sarcastic nature, and I can only stop and thank God for his forgiveness.

I didn’t really go as deeply into looking at cross-references and other mentions in the Bible on this one, but instead, I consulted some commentaries to help aid my understanding with the ideas of other wise Christians.

First, I looked at Matthew Poole‘s comments on this verse. ¬†He says,

Avoid the causes of this sin.

  • Take heed of uncharitableness, in all its kinds and degrees.
  • Take heed of loquacity and multitude of words.
  • Take heed of pragmaticalness, which is when men are inquisitive and busy about other men’s matters.
  • Take heed of man-pleasing.
  • Learn the government of your tongue.

This is what I learned from Poole:

  • Remember to think the best of others. ¬†Often when I reproach others it is because I assume bad motivations, and I don’t really have the right to assume anything but the best of others. ¬†I’m not God, and it’s not my job to judge people’s unseen motives.
  • I need to watch my words. ¬†I need to control them. ¬†I need to stem the tide of words and listen more.
  • I need to stay out of other people’s business. I don’t need to try to please others or judge others. ¬†I need to tend to my own business and lead a quiet and peaceable life.

I also read from John Gill‘s commentary on this verse. ¬†These are his characteristics of a man who doesn’t not reproach his neighbor:

[He} does not raise any scandalous report on him himself, nor will he bear to hear one from another, much less will he spread one; nor will he suffer one to lie upon his neighbor, but will do all he can to vindicate him, and clear his character.

This is what I learned from Gill:

  • Do not slander others
  • Do not listen to gossip
  • Do not spread gossip
  • Do not allow people to slander others
  • Attempt to show your neighbor’s innocence and have it seen by others.

Simple advice, right?  Hard to live but simple in approach.  After spending a while thinking about these commentaries and committing them to notes for my Bible, I decided that it was time to move on to the next verse.

The Bad News About the Tongue

Most of my blog posts recently have revolved around slander as I have tried to explore the first portion of Psalm 15:3:¬†“he that¬†backbiteth not with his tongue.” ¬†If you have been following along, you know that I learned that backbite is another word for slander, and this led to an exploration of slander in the Bible.

So, of course, we also need to quickly consider the fact that the way that we spread slanderous words is with our tongues. ¬†It’s hard to admit, even for the Christian, but as often as we use our tongues for good, upbuilding words, we use them for words that are angry, destructive and even false.

I never read James chapter three without feeling the weight of conviction.  Just read verses 6-12.  They say:

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

I stand guilty and condemned by my tongue. ¬†One minute, I might be praying or discussing God’s word with my children. ¬†The next minute I might find myself speaking in a hurtful tone, correcting harshly and condemning the actions of those that I love. ¬†Because of the prevalence of these verses, I think that this is a sin that many of us share. ¬†In fact, the verses above say that¬†no human being can tame the tongue.

The news about the tongue is grim throughout the Bible. We are told that the tongue is a scourge in Job 5:21:

Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue: neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh.

I know I’ve certainly used it to scourge people before, particularly my children as I over correct their wrongs and too aggressively condemn their childish behavior.

We’re also told the tongue is venomous in Psalm 140:3.

They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders’ poison is under their lips. Selah.

As you might recall, a snake bite is always painful and can often be fatal. We wound others with our tongues.  Speaking of wounding, we are told that the tongue is destructive in Proverbs 11:9.

An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.

Because of the destructive, venomous, untamable nature of our tongue, Jesus’s warning in Matthew 12:26 is very sobering.

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

I can think of far more instances where I have misused my tongue than used it correctly, so I do not relish the thought of giving an account of my words on the day of judgment.  However, instead of focusing on the bad news, I can only remember that I John 1:9 says:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

God is capable of forgiving and cleansing all my sins, even my sins with my tongue.  I can also remember that through Christ I am capable of overcoming my sins, even the ones that I commit with my tongue.  Ephesians 4:29 says,

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

I want to minister grace to others. ¬†I want to be a freshwater spring. ¬†I want to edify, build up and encourage. ¬†So, I pray. ¬†I often pray. ¬†I spend more time on my knees about my tongue than most of my other sins. ¬†I’m making progress, but not perfection, and I thank God for the progress that I have made.

Effects of Slander

I sat down to write¬†this afternoon, and I realized with a little embarrassment that it has been almost a full month since I’ve written on this blog. ¬†I’ve been writing and writing off the blog, creating and teaching lessons for my Community Bible Study class (on Genesis 15-18) and preparing to teach a lesson series in our KidzChurch on the Sermon on the Mount. Unfortunately, as exciting and wonderful as it is to able to offer up my lessons in my classes, it limits my time write for the blog. ¬†

I’ve been in the middle of writing a series on Psalm 15 and one on systematic theology. ¬†I’m going to pick up the threads of where I was in Genesis 15 first, and share about it and a lot of other things going forward. ¬†When my blog is silent, just remember to pray for me¬†because I’m in a time of more intense teaching when that happens.

Let’s begin again with our mini diversion from the path of Psalm 15 to consider slander. ¬†I’ll link to the previous posts I’ve written on slander below.

We have seen what causes slander. ¬†We have seen specific commands given to the saints concerning slander. ¬†Now, it’s time to take a look at the effects that slander has on us.

The first thing we should remember about slander is that it causes anger.  I know that if I feel misunderstood or misrepresented that I feel angry.  As a mom, I have seen how quickly my children turn to wrath when they feel that they are being misunderstood or that I am mischaracterizing their actions.  I have also noticed that when I see that anger at misrepresentation on the face of my children that I am driven to stop and get it right.  It reminds me that Proverbs 25:23 says:

The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.

We should be angry when we hear someone being slandered.  We should be angry when we hear someone misrepresented.  We should be angry when we only hear one side of a story and are asked to condemn the people on the other side.  All these are ways we backbite each other, and those ways should be condemned.

Let’s attempt to get it right. ¬†The effects of slander are just too great.

The first effect of slander is that is separates friends. ¬†If you are feeling hurt by a tale you have heard about a friend, reach out directly to that friend. ¬†Don’t let someone else’s story about your friend separate you. Proverbs 16:28 says:

A dishonest man spreads strife,
    and a whisperer separates close friends.

If you’re not convinced by that verse, perhaps Proverbs 17:9 would help. ¬†It says:

Whoever covers an offense seeks love,
    but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.

Love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8). A question we should ask ourselves when we have heard a rumor or been hurt by the actions of a friend is whether or not we can just love enough to carry on in our relationship.  Sometimes a fault needs confrontation.  Other times it just needs forgiveness and covering with our love.

If someone is repeating rumors and telling stories, they often want to cause that kind of division between friends.  There are many motivations for this kind of slander, and we may not even realize our motivations when we spread rumors.  No matter what the motivation, just do not spread tales.

Not only does slander separate friends, but it also causes deadly wounds.  Proverbs 18:6 says:

¬†A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.

Proverbs 26:22 says:

 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

There is not much that’s more hurtful than hearing rumors that question your friend’s motivations. ¬†There’s not much that is more hurtful than hearing just one side of a story. ¬†The wounds are deep, and sometimes lifelong.

Another effect of slander is to cause strife.  Proverbs 26:20 says:

Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

Every time a tale is spread or a story is told or something is gossiped about, there is strife, division and unhappiness.  Hearing the words of someone else can cause a division between us and a friend and keep us angry at a friend that has transgressed against us.

It keeps us angry, and it can lead to arguing and division in our relationships with others.  All because we stopped to listen to someone who gossiped.

This strife from slander also causes discord among brethren.  Proverbs 6:19 says:

A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Two of the most painful experiences in my year this year involved catching people that I love in lies. ¬†When this happens, there’s an undeniable break in relationship, a loss of trust, and just a clashing disagreement. ¬†That’s what discord is. It’s a disagreement that results in angry people, and although not always caused by lies, lies and slander can be a huge contributor to discord. Slander can also be a result of discord. ¬†The two seem to breed each other.

Another result of slander can be murder.  Psalm 31:3 says:

For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.

Of course, that can be literal murder. ¬†But it doesn’t have to be Matthew 5:21-22 say:

Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Here Jesus is putting anger and murder on the same level. ¬†That’s something that will make you go “Ouch!” when you think about it.

So, there you have it. ¬†My glance through the Bible for the results in our lives of slander. The next post in this series that I’ll be sharing will be a quick post on a couple of things that the Bible says about the tongue, and then we’ll head back to Psalm 15:3 to discover what else a righteous man does not do.

Hearing from God

I just wanted to take a few minutes today to share the text of a devotional I gave a couple of weeks ago. ¬†I’ll be back to my Psalm 15 series, specifically talking about the effects of slander very soon!

The topic of God speaking to me has always been one that I’ve avoided having to talk about, so I admit that I was less than thrilled when I saw that this was the topic for devotions this year.

I often find myself leery of the whole ‚ÄúGod spoke to me‚ÄĚ language that runs rampant with my brothers and sisters in Christ. When I was a younger, less mature Christian, I often considered myself spiritually less mature than other Christians because I had never heard the voice of God from up on high personally guiding me. I would always say, ‚Äúwell, they‚Äôre closer to God than I am,‚ÄĚ and sometimes I‚Äôd doubt my own relationship with God because I was never certain, when I came to a decision or conviction, if God was speaking to me or if it was my own idea that I was clothing in God‚Äôs voice.

I continued to study, and to listen, straining to hear God’s voice, because I longed for more in my relationship with him. Contentment in my spiritual walk eluded me.

Then, one day, I was reading in I Corinthians, and I realized what a sin of discontent and pride that I was harboring in this area. My longing for more from God was a desire to be lifted up. I had a pride in myself and in my specialness in relation to everyone else.   That really embarrasses me when I think of I John 2:15-17, which says, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

(As an aside, since this is my devotion, I decided to use all KJV verse references. I love the KJV for the same reasons that I love Shakespeare, visiting museums and watching the perfect sunset, but sometimes I feel uncomfortable using it in public because it makes me worry about people thinking I’m old fashioned or weird. I have serious issues with men pleasing, and despite the fact that I keep memorizing Galatians 1:10, For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. However, I’m still struggling to obey the lesson of that verse. That’s a different devotion though!!)

 

My desire to hear personally from God was related to my pride, and my need for specialness. If I’m reading my Bible correctly, I soon realized that my desire to hear God’s voice was a sin issue for me. I desired to look wise, and I desired to be thought of highly or super-spiritual by other Christians. It was the opposite of what God wanted for me. I had completely forgotten that every verse in the Bible that talks about pride discusses how much the Lord hates it, how it is evil and leads to destruction or how the Lord will humble those who are prideful.

It’s amazing to me how sometimes, when we come to Christ, we might stop climbing one ladder of accomplishment and success only to find ourselves climbing another. We have, in ourselves as humans, a drive to accomplish and to do, and a difficulty being still and waiting on God. It is a quality that I almost find completely lacking in my life, and I’m thankful that God accepts us as we are because I may never be who I want to be.

As I read more about pride, and thought more about how it related to my life, my idol of being the perfect Christian was shattered. I realized that I had committed grave sin and error, and I was convicted.

I also realized something else. God had spoken to me. It didn’t look how I wanted it to look. It didn’t look how I had imagined it would. There was no audible voice. There was just the still small voice of conviction in response to scripture in my heart. The conviction that I knew came from the Holy Spirit.

I find that God speaks to me all the time if I am listening, but I often am not. Each morning, as I read my Bible I have an opportunity to hear from God. Each time I am reminded of a verse that I have studied or a passage comes to my heart at just the right time, I am hearting from God.

It is not the audible voice, and that is okay. This also isn‚Äôt the devotion that I imagined giving and that‚Äôs okay. I was in the middle of writing this devotional and thinking of how bad it was when I went to church Sunday morning. My pastor, in a section of his sermon, while mentioning Elijah and how his troubles had distracted him from God, mentioned how, I Kings 19, when Elijah stood before the Lord in the midst of his troubles that God was in the still small voice.¬†¬† My pastor then said, ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs why God doesn‚Äôt speak in an audible voice. You can put your fingers in your ears to stop an audible voice, but you can‚Äôt stop a still, small voice.‚ÄĚ

Today, I am just thankful that I realized that God was in the still, small voice, and that he was always speaking to me. I had just, in my pride, been blind to hearing from him in that way. In repentance, I thank him that he gave us his sure word and that he speaks to us through it and that he writes that word in our hearts to speak to us.

Commands to the Saints on Slander

Slander, as we learned in our last blog post is often in the realm of the wicked. ¬†However, we who are God’s people often have the temptation towards both gossip and slander. ¬†We also, even if we are not the one slandering, may find ourselves in the situation of being slandered.

Christ was exposed to slander (Psalm 35:11; Matthew 26:60).  Rulers and leaders are often exposed to slander (Jude 8). We, as servants of God, should not be surprised when we are exposed to slander (Romans 3:8; 2 Corinthians 6:8).

We are fortunate that the Bible lays down some very clear commands for us Christians in dealing with slander and evil speaking in our lives.

The first command for us is to keep your tongue from slander.  We receive this command in two places.  First, we have  Psalm 34:13, which says:

 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.

We also have this command in I Peter 3:10.  In this verse, we are told:

For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:

This is pretty straightforward, right? ¬†Just don’t speak evil. ¬†Ephesians 4:31 reminds us that:

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

I love this because it reminds me that God doesn’t expect me to be suddenly perfect. ¬†Instead, this is a sin that I have to set aside. In case I doubt that this is really a commandment, I also receive it in Titus 3:12:

Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

I want to be gentle and not speak evil of people. ¬†I want to go a little further and not think evil of others. ¬†Instead, I want to think the best and believe the best in all. ¬†I don’t always manage it, but it’s my goal.

So, we shouldn’t speak evil and slander towards others.

The second command that God gives us about the tongue is that we should not give others the occasion to gossip about us and slander us. ¬†I say that this is easier said than done since we can’t control the way that other people react to us. ¬†However, we are commanded this two places in I Peter. ¬†I Peter 2:12 says:

Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

I want this for myself. ¬†I want to be able to tell people about Jesus, but I want to lay the foundation for it in my good works so that no one can speak evil against me. ¬†I haven’t arrived at that level yet, but I’m praying for it.

We also see in I Peter 3:16 that:

Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ

I want those who speak evil against me falsely to feel embarrassed. ¬†I want them to be convicted of their slander by the Holy Spirit. ¬†I may want it a little too much, in a vengeance type of way. ¬†That’s my own sin nature showing.

So, that’s why I need the third command that God gives about slander. ¬†He tells us to return good for this evil against us. ¬†I Corinthians 4:13 says,

Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

Here Paul is begging the Corinthians church to reconsider their feelings towards him and his associates. ¬†Instead, they have made him a pariah. ¬†Yet, Paul continued to try to restore relationship with these people. ¬†I can’t even imagine the character that took.

He endured much from the church and we are told that we will be blessed in our endurance of those who speak evil against us.  Matthew 5:11 says,

 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

This isn’t necessarily a blessing that I want, but I’ll take it. ¬†It is far better to be persecuted and reviled and spoken slanderously against than to be the one speaking that kind of slander.

And, of course, the text that we are currently studying (Psalm 15) reminds us that the righteous man is characterized in avoiding slander.  As Psalm 15:3 says,

He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.

Our last command concerning slander, as Christians, is to not listen to slander.  We want to listen, but we are to avoid it.  I Samuel 24:9 says,

And David said to Saul, Wherefore hearest thou men’s words, saying, Behold, David seeketh thy hurt?

In this story, David is reprimanding Saul for believing rumors that David is trying to hurt him.  Because of the lies that Saul was listening to, some pretty stiff consequences resulted from those lies.  We will see how these consequences play out in our lives in the next blog post.