Do not spread false reports. Exodus 23:1
After Charles Simeon (1759–1836) was named the minister of Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge, England, he faced years of opposition. As most in the congregation had wanted the associate minister to be appointed rather than Simeon, they spread rumors about him and rejected his ministry—even at times locking him out of the church. But Simeon, who desired to be filled by God’s Spirit, sought to cope with the gossip by creating some principles to live by. One was never to believe rumors unless they were absolutely true and another was “always to believe, that if the other side were heard, a very different account would be given of the matter.”
In this practice, Simeon followed God’s instructions to His people to cease the gossip and malicious talk He knew would erode their love for each other. One of God’s Ten Commandments reflects His desire for them to live truthfully: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). Another instruction in Exodus reinforces this commandment: “Do not spread false reports” (23:1).
Think of how different the world would be if each of us never spread rumors and false reports and if we stopped them the moment we heard them. May we rely on the Holy Spirit to help us speak the truth in love as we use our words to bring glory to God.
Reflect & Pray
What has helped you when you’ve faced opposition? How do you react when you hear gossip?
Jesus, help me to speak Your truth in love. Give me words that bring peace, grace, and encouragement.
To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.
Sharing in Christ’s life means that we experience not only the close relationship He had with His Father but also His suffering. As Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:24-25 ESV).
We need to remember that as we seek to embody His righteousness, we may find our pursuit doesn’t make sense to the world. Writing to the Philippians, Paul explained how he had to lose everything in order to gain Christ (Phil. 3:8-11). The Greek word for “loss” in this letter is the same word used in Acts about the effects of the storm Paul encountered en route to Rome (Acts 27:10; Acts 27:21). This language helps us realize we will feel our commitment to Jesus—in both joyful and painful ways—as we pursue knowing Him more.
Think about it
- What would it mean in your own life to “lose everything in order to gain Christ”?
- Reread Philippians 3:8 (ESV). What would it look like to live for “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus”?
“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:17)
This is the heart of Christ’s rebuke of the church at Laodicea, the “lukewarm” church (v. 16) of the last days. This is an evangelical church for its candlestick is still in place (note Revelation 1:20; 2:5), but it has become a neutral church, “neither cold nor hot” (3:15). The reason for its tepid witness is because it has become “rich, and increased with goods,” comfortable in a culture that tends to equate material prosperity with success and God’s favor. It may have acquired large and beautiful facilities, developed special programs of many kinds, featured a variety of musicians and other artists, and even gained a measure of political power. Yet, Christ calls it poor and blind and naked!
Not all large churches become like this, of course, but it is always a real danger. The desire for large congregations can easily lead to compromising biblical standards of doctrine and practice. “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion,” the prophet warned (Amos 6:1).
Note that the Lord began His letter to the Laodicean church by identifying Himself as “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14). This strongly suggests that a major reason for the development of such complacency in a large church (or a small church, for that matter) is neglect of these three doctrines—the sufficiency of Christ, the inerrant authority of God’s Word, and the special creation of all things by God.
The letter to this church ends with the sad picture of Christ standing at its door, seeking admission (v. 20). “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (v. 22). HMM