11-12Don't bad-mouth each other, friends. It's God's Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You're supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others?
22 Isn't it obvious that conspirators lose out,
while the thoughtful win love and trust?
I present two passages this morning - one from the Old Testament, the other from the New. Conspiracy is not something most of us would consider ourselves as being part of. In fact, we probably think of that as something from a James Bond movie. If we examine further, we will probably identify that "conspiracy" is a more common occurrence in our lives than we would imagine.
To conspire means that we agree secretly to do something wrong. It can be an agreement of just one, or many people. The other word that is similar is "plot" - to secretly plan or scheme to accomplish some purpose (especially those that are hostile or evil in their purposes). Now, think that one through - if we spend time and emotional energy "plotting" how to respond to another, make another look bad, etc., we'd be "conspiring" against them.
Okay, so we don't find ourselves actively doing this kind of "conspiracy" work all the time, but I bet we find that we do it more than we'd like to admit. James reminds us that even finding ways to "bad-mouth" each other is a form of conspiracy. We are meddling in things that are dangerous to our soul and the integrity of another.
Our attempts to point out the faults of others in our secret enclaves of others who might "join in" the conspiracy is simply our way of taking the focus off of ourselves and keeping it on others. It is easy to point out the faults of another and avoid ever focusing on our own. I want us to consider this - a spotlight is quite bright. Even when it is focused on another, there is some "illumination" that escapes the object of its focus. It is quite possible that the illuminating effect of our criticisms of another may expose the similar tendencies in us!
The most impactful thing about these passages is the reminder about the outcome of our words. When we engage in demeaning, inconsiderate talk about another, we are actually "pulling out our cans of paint" just like a person set on "leaving their mark" does when they set out to write graffiti on the wall. We "leave our mark" by the words we speak. This type of communication leaves a trail of "relational" graffiti - repulsive, unwelcome reminders of another's faults, wrong actions, or conduct. Just like graffiti on a wall along the busy streets of a city, our "secret words" leave constant reminders of the way we feel about another.
Conspirators lose out - the thoughtful win love and trust. Why? Simply put, the thoughtful have no "spray cans of paint"! They have learned that there is no need to advertise the conduct of another - God knows it and he is the one who will judge it. The destiny of each person is in his hands.
If we have never thought of our "careless speech" about another's faults as "graffiti", maybe it is time that we do. We would not want our faults displayed for all to see - that other person doesn't either!