Tolerating Revilers


By Teena Myers

“But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortion – not even to eat with such a person.” 1 Corinthians 5:11

The church is good at separating themselves from most of the things on Paul’s list of undesirable company that defiles us. We do not tolerate sexual immorality and drunkenness, nor would we erect an idol in the church. People caught extorting money are removed from office. We excel at keeping most of the pollution out. But there are two things on the list we have failed to purge from our churches—the covetous and the reviler.

The Greek word translated covetous means eager to have more. The Greek word translated reviler means abusive. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words clarifies revilers abuse people with their words. If you harm others by speaking reproachfully to them you are a reviler who needs to repent. 

The leaders in the Ephesian synagogue publicly maligned Paul’s message. To malign is to criticize in a spiteful and false or misleading way intending to harm. The same leaders who wanted Paul to stay the first time he spoke in their synagogue reviled him when he returned. If you are covetous, eager to have more, you will become a reviler if you cannot accept the truth. 

Sheep are guilty of the same sins. It is so common to revile shepherds that many barely have a twang of conviction we have acted wickedly. Most of the reviling comes from the desire for more of God. When pastors do not give us the more we desire, we speak reproachfully about them. Some subject them to verbal abuse.

Not only do sheep revile their shepherds, shepherds revile the sheep for the same reason. They want more. They want the sheep to pray more, give more and win more people to the Lord. When the sheep fail, they speak reproachfully to us with fine-tuned messages backed by scripture.

We bob our heads in agreement believing we deserved the verbal abuse. Then we walk out the door thanking the shepherd for a great message as he pats himself on the back for his boldness. But the only thing that happened was abuse. The only thing God saw was wickedness.

The reviling that takes place in the church will never give us more of God. Reviling each other puts us in the class of dogs devouring one another, too wicked to be trusted with more. There is a good reason God waits for us to purge all the wickedness out, so he can give us more of him. It is dangerous to give miracles to dogs.

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