Releasing a Fountain of Blessing, Not a Toxic Flood of Criticism
The Bridegroom-King’s call to be set-apart as He is set-apart extends to many issues which YaHuWaH considers far more important to our purpose in life than how well we sing, preach, teach, dance, write or play music, pray, prophesy, or evangelize. There are several areas that define what ‘Beautiful People’ do and do not do – and it all seems to start with how they do and do not use the precious gift of speech. YaHuWaH makes it clear that set-apartness is inconsistent with lashon hara. One cannot be set-apart as He is set-apart and be an accuser, a gossip, a critic, or a judge. As YaHuWaH Himself puts it:
Lo telech rachil be’ameicha
Do not go about as a talebearer among your people;
Lo ta’amod al-dam re’echa Ani YaHuWaH
Nor take a stand against the life of your neighbor. I am YaHuWaH.
Lo telech rakil. What is a ‘talebearer’? Are you one? Proverbs 11:13 explains: A talebearer reveals secrets; but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.” Compare Proverbs 18:8, which states: The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles; and they go down into the inmost body. Proverbs 26:20 clarifies: Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.
The Hebrew word that our English Bibles translates as ‘talebearer’ is rakil. This incorporates a lot of things involving the misuse of the human capacities of speech. A rakil is a sin-exposer. A rakil is a secret-teller. A rakil is an accuser. A rakil is a blame-placer. A rakil is a drama-promoter. A rakil is a scandalmonger.
The common element in all the above – what makes one a rakil/talebearer – is the spreading of negativity with one’s mouth. It involves speaking in a negative or disrespectful way about any person, group, movement, place, or thing. It involves voicing accusations of blame and/or wrongdoing – either as the original complainant or as a repeater. It involves making derogatory assessments. It involves assigning guilt by association. It involves the calling of names and labels. It involves expressing negative opinions about anyone or anything. Those kinds of usage of the organs of speech are all decidedly counter-Kingdom.
The kind of set-apartness to which our Bridegroom-King has called us means that absolutely no negative speech should come from our mouths.
Lo ta’amod al-dam rei’icha. We are to see atonement available and made accessible at all times. We should never write anyone or any situation off as irredeemable. We are never to attribute to YaHuWaH negative thoughts or concepts which emanate from our own fallen minds. We are never to start a discussion or a sentence with a negative phrasing such as ‘It is sad [or pathetic, or terrible, or unfair, etc.] that . . . .’ or “I think it is so disgusting when people . . . .’ or ‘I am [or get] outraged [or disappointed, or hurt, or frustrated, etc.] that . . . .’ We are never to tell anyone ‘It makes YaHuWaH so angry when you . . . .’
Do you catch yourself doing any of these things? Have your organs of speech – the precious vessels with which you have been empowered to bring shalom and blessing into the world – been used instead to bring discord, dissatisfaction, and drama into it? Has your tongue been used to fan the flames of dissatisfaction, conflict, discord, rebellion, and drama instead of bringing healing and resolution? Make t’shuvah, dear one! Return your vessels and organs of speech to their rightful, intended, ambassadorial use! Remember what David said:
O YaHuWaH, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your set-apart hill?
He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend. [Psalm 15:1-3]
Reacting Calmly and Graciously To Other People’s Misconduct and Failure
Another area YaHuWaH’s call to “Be set-apart as [He] is set-apart” is designed to radically transform our interactions involves how we react or respond when someone else breaks covenant, misbehaves, falls, or fails. We are not to facilitate or excuse bad behavior, but we are also not to judge or condemn the people associated with such conduct. Our focus is always to be on the individual in question’s potential for glorious redemption instead of his/her sin, and upon the future YaHuWaH can build if given a chance, not on the mess we see plainly in front of our eyes at the moment.
What are we to do when confronted with sin, weakness, or rebellion in others? We are to stay calm. We are to remain King and Kingdom-focused. Psalm 37:3-7. We are to act like we have been here before. Psalm 37:30. We are not to over-react. We are never to pout or fret. Psalm 37:1. We are not to allow ourselves to be repulsed. We are not to allow our flesh to indulge the least sensation of self-righteousness or condescension. We are not to reject the person because of the sin. We are not to go on a crusade to stamp out the sin or expose and embarrass – much less condemn – the sinner. We must also never let the sun go down on any anger we may start to feel. Psalm 37:8. We cannot ever assign a person who is presently sinning or going astray from the Will of YaHuWaH to contempt. If we are going to be set-apart as our Bridegroom-King is set-apart, we are to always remember the great mercy and kindness that was shown to us by YaHuWaH at the time the shoe was on the other foot, and we were the mess. I Corinthians 6:9-11. The love and mercy He showed us when we least deserved it, is what we are to show to people who sin – even when they hurt us or those close to us. As YaHuWaH puts it:
Lo-tisna et-achicha bilvavecha
Do not hate your brother in your heart.
Lo tisna. What does it mean to ‘hate’ your brother in your heart? It means to take up any position or stance that is adverse to him. It means to place yourself above or against him instead of alongside of him. It means to think, speak, act, or react like you are his better, his superior, his judge, or his enemy. It means to leave the position YaHuWaH has assigned you as his friend, his helper/co-laborer, his encourager, and his counselor, and take on yourself instead of the serpentine role of accuser, critic, judge, and persecutor.
So, if we are being set-apart as the Bridegroom-King is set-apart, what are we supposed to do when we see a fellow man over whom we have been given a measure of influence engaged in sin? Our English Bibles interpret what YaHuWaH instructed us to do in such situations as:
Hoche’ach tochiach et-amitecha
Admonish your neighbor
V’lo-tisa alav chet
And do not bear sin because of him.
Hoche’ach tochiach. What does it mean to ‘admonish’ [KJV ‘rebuke’] one’s neighbor? If you approach it Hebraically you will find that it nowhere near what the English verb ‘admonish’ or ‘rebuke’ in current usages seems to suggest. It most definitely does not mean to judge, accuse, attack, or berate. It does not mean to take on a superior, self-righteous air and show disapproval and disgust.
So if not those things, what does admonish/rebuke mean? The Hebrew verb our English Bibles translate as admonish/rebuke in this passage is yakach. This Hebrew verb means to quietly take a step up and go to the forefront; i.e. to humbly and discreetly go in front of another, take the pressure and attention off of them, and assume a temporary leadership role for their benefit. Picture a flock of geese. When one falters under the pressure of the wind and the exertion, another steps up and takes the faltering one’s place. The second goose goes in front of the faltering one, endures the brunt of the wind currents in the faltering one’s place, and lets the faltering one ‘draft’ off his movements until his strength can be restored and he can resume his place. Yakach does not mean to angrily reprove – or necessarily to say anything at all. It means to set an example, and take practical, effective steps to introduce healing and restoration to the faltering one in your sphere of influence. Accusation and condemnation have no place. What is needed is leadership – and respect for the worth and potential of the individual even when his behavior and attitude is nowhere near the holiness level where it needs to be.
Lo-tisa alav chet. We are here at such a time as this to cover sins, not to cry or gasp, scream or gossip, fret, or fume about them. We are here to model and laud to the world the process of t’shuvah and the precious Divine give of atonement – not to wound people with condemnation. Every detour we take from the narrow path of Torah YaHuWaH has cleared for us into the off-course swamp of negative thought and speech will only complicate and prolong the effect of whatever sin we see in other people. Whenever we indulge negative thoughts, emotions, speech, and/or behaviors in response to other people’s sins, we actually join them in sinning. We do the work of the accuser instead of co-laboring in the work of the Healer.
YaHuWaH then clarifies our responsibility even further:
You will not take vengeance.
The Hebrew verb our English Bibles translates as ‘take vengeance’ in this Divine instruction is naqam. It means to feel or express anger, and/or to inflict any form of verbal condemnation or either emotional or physical punishment. Under no circumstance is either anger or condemnation to enter into our reaction or response to the sin, failings, or other breaches of covenant of others. At no point are we ever to usurp the role of either the accuser of the brethren or the Righteous Judge. Taking on either role is totally inconsistent with being set-apart as our Bridegroom-King is set-apart. There is a day for judgment coming; but this is not that day. And there is a seat of judgment prepared against the day of judgment; but it is not ours to sit on. Every time we reject this instruction of YaHuWaH and try to sit on the seat of judgment in our Bridegroom-King’s place, our counsel becomes the counsel of the ungodly, our way becomes the way of sinners, and our seat becomes the seat of the scornful. Everyone else will be able to see it, but we will not. That is why Yahusha taught ‘Judge not, that you be not judged. For by the same standards of judgment you use, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you dish it out, it will be dished out back to you. Matthew 7:1-2.
YaHuWaH is not done with this issue yet, however. Next, He says:
V’lo-titor et-b’nei amecha
And you are not to bear any grudge/offense/anger against the children of your people.
We are called to become more and more unoffendable each day. As we walk with YaHuWaH we are to take on His mercy, His compassion, His characteristic of slowness to anger, and His delight in forgiveness and redemption. Like our Bridegroom-King, we are to reject any negative feelings and disregard all accusatory statements about or toward a fellow man – and to keep doing so no matter how badly the person in question may behave toward us or anyone else. We are to indulge no bias, no prejudice, no predisposition, and absolutely no animosity whatever – under any circumstances . . . ever. We are to Be set-apart as [He] is set-apart.
Author: Bill Bullock