There once were two siblings: a brother and sister. The brother was older and, to all physical appearances, a handsome young man. The sister was pretty, but not flawlessly so. She had a birthmark underneath her chin, a mole beside one ear, and hair that always looked messy no matter what she tried to do with it; but she had a beautiful heart and worked very hard at being the best she could be.
Nevertheless, the brother was merciless toward his sister. He constantly told others, both family and strangers, about her flaws and shortcomings. She wasn’t really as pretty as people thought, according to him, for she was far too flawed for anyone to be truly pleased. The derogatory statements began as whispers behind her back, but soon became constant statements that were before the sister on a daily basis.
She tried to make changes, to cover the blemishes with makeup, to keep the hair as others thought it should be, and to appear less “ugly;” but no matter what she did, the brother never changed his opinion of her. She was always going to be his ugly sister and he was not afraid to let anyone know the truth about her.
Finally one day, after a great deal of time taking the berating words from her brother, the sister decided she could not take it anymore. One night she ran away from home, leaving a note stating that she could not take the brother’s criticism any longer. While she was on the streets a stranger found her, laid his hands on her, and killed her.
When the family was notified of her demise they found the note left by the girl. The brother then had to live the rest of his life before his family and friends knowing that it was his merciless lack of love and compassion that cost his sister her life and the beauty it could have brought into the lives of so many others.
As sad as this story is, it is played out on a regular basis within the church by those brothers and sisters whose irritable griping and merciless complaining torment the souls of Christians striving to do what is right. The objects of derision are not perfect, they have flaws and problems like everyone else, but they strive with all their might to do what is right and be what God wants them to be. Nevertheless, many “sister’s” have been driven from the church by uncaring members who are more than happy to tell anyone, Christian or not, what they think of that individual and how terrible their shortcomings are.
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!” (Mat. 18:3-7 ESV). Paul would warn against becoming those who, “Learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.” (1 Tim. 5:13)
Our speech is to always be with grace and seasoned with salt (Col. 4:6). The things that we say and the way we treat others has a deep impact on their feelings, their resolve, and their ability to continue to grow and improve. May it never be said of us that we drove a sibling away with malice, resentment, and anger; but ever tried to strengthen them with love, truth, and encouragement to always do what is right.
One of the things I emphasized to the students I taught last week on the NT church, in a ministry training program, is that we’re walking on sacred ground when we enter the church and when we deal with subjects of or people in the church. So I’m amening your article here!