Which is worse? Cannibals or backbiters, slanderers, gossipers, etc.? Does that seem like a strange question? You might be surprised at the answer!
The Challenge of Staying Positive
I still struggle with standing in judgment of my brethren (and sisters). Slowly, God is retraining me to apply the instructions I read in His word to myself first, rather than to my neighbour. It’s challenging, especially when I come across some counsel that I know applies especially to one person or another. This may be one of the hardest lessons I have to learn. The fleshly me just wants to shake some people in an effort to wake them up to see their danger; but I cannot change other people. Only the Spirit of God can do that. I need to focus on letting God chip off my own rough edges. As Jesus said, we need to remove our own motes before we worry about our brother’s beams.
I just read a quote yesterday that really hit home for me. Do I go about on smear campaigns? No. But I know that I am often only a hairsbreadth away from speaking harsh words of judgment against some (at least to my husband). And sometimes, in conversation, some of those words slip out. I have had a tendency to dissect character since I was a child. But I know that, as a wife, I have a significant influence on my husband. I want that influence to be for good! I don’t want him to focus on the negative traits of others because of my words. After all, “by beholding we become changed,” so we want to focus on the perfect character of Christ, not the imperfections of our neighbours. Focus enough on others’ flaws and you’ll become just like them.
Are Backbiters Like Cannibals? The Quote:
We think with horror of the cannibal who feasts on the still warm and trembling flesh of his victim; but are the results of even this practice more terrible than are the agony and ruin caused by misrepresenting motive, blackening reputation, dissecting character?
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
In the Scriptures, backbiters are classed with the haters of God, “with inventors of evil things,” with those who are without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful, “full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity.” It is “the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death.” He whom God accounts a citizen of Zion is he that “speaketh the truth in his heart;” “that backbiteth not with his tongue,” “nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.”
— E.G. White, Australasian Union Record, September 15, 1905
Father, please help me to focus more on the positive, especially on Thy dear Son, in whose name I come before Thee. Take away the tendency to hold a magnifying glass over my brethren’s defects or to try to “fix” their problems. Instead, let me simply follow Thee faithfully and be an example of true godliness to others. Let me likewise be humble enough to follow the example of those who have progressed more than me. Help me never to resist Thy correction and rebuke. In the blessed name of Thy Son I pray. Amen.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
— Galatians 5:14-15