When is it right to name and shame?

Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay

What does God say about naming and shaming? When is it correct to call someone out for his sins? Who has the authority to do so?

The most obvious answer is government. When a person has committed a crime, law enforcement arrest him, the person will face trial, and his name becomes public knowledge. For he (a ruler, i. e. the government) is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Another authority is the church. Most disagreements between believers can be resolved one-on-one, but if that doesn’t work, God has provided a process whereby the church can help. This is how it works: But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican (Matthew 18:16-17). In the sad case that a dispute cannot be resolved, the matter goes before the church. At that time, the problem is public knowledge.

The Apostle Paul admonished, Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them (Romans 16:17).

Paul called out several, by name, for their sins. Note that these instances are actually the Word of God, not only a record of Paul being upset because someone disagreed with him.  

  • I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:2).
  • Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme (1 Timothy 1:19-20).
  • This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes (2 Timothy 1:15).
  • And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some (2 Timothy 2:17-18).
  • For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica (2 Timothy 4:10a).
  • Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works (2 Timothy 4:14).

If a person who calls himself a brother in Christ lives in sin, we are not supposed to be close buddies with him. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat (1 Corinthians 5:11).

Who should be named and shamed?

  • Those who cause divisions in the church.
  • People who say they’re Christians, live in sin, and will not forsake it.
  • Brothers who have not responded favorably to church discipline.
  • Criminals.
  • False teachers.

It’s sad anyone would ever need to be named, but there are times when it’s appropriate for good men to warn others of disobedient brethren, heresies, and criminals. Unfortunately, this isn’t always done in Christian circles, resulting in the people in churches not being warned. They don’t recognize the wolves among them.

Jesus said, Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves (Matthew 7:15).

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them (Romans 16:17).

To love instruction: Proverbs 12

It’s a good thing this chapter begins as it does, as the first verse sets the tone for the whole chapter. Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish (verse 1).

Do you like to be told what to do?

I don’t.

During this whole pandemic, the powers that be tell us not to leave our houses and not to do this or that. If we go this place, we must wear a mask. We must social distance. In order to open our church, we needed to check all the boxes—which we did, by the way.

Did I enjoy not being able to leave home for more than eight weeks? No.

But, this Proverb tells us we can choose between liking instruction and knowledge—which is wise—and hating reproof (correction) and being a brute.

What is this instruction we’re supposed to enjoy? Godly instruction.

Do we bristle when God tells us what to do? If so, we might want to discontinue reading this chapter, because, trust me, it is full of instruction.

Do we hate being told we’re wrong? Yes. But, this is God’s discipline, not just anybody’s criticism.

Should we care what God thinks? Of course.

Verses 2 and 3 present a good man. He has God’s favor and is rooted in righteousness. Sounds like Psalm 1 to me: And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper (Psalm 1:3).

For the Christian, rooting and grounding looks like this: That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19). See how this instruction and knowledge bear themselves out in manifestations of God’s love?

Verses 2 and 3 also address the bad man—wicked—who suffers from his own devices.

Verse 4 turns to women. A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband. What an image! You can just see the guy, his head held high. He has a wife who loves him, believes in him, helps him, and makes sure he succeeds. She’s his crown. Gold, perhaps? For sure, she’s precious and valuable. She makes him proud.

The bad wifeshe that maketh ashamedis as rottenness in his bones. The Greek word for “rottenness” means riddled with termite holes. This guy is literally weakened and ruined by his wife. Sad, indeed!

Wives, would you rather be a gleaming crown or a termite? You choose.

In verses 5 through 9, we see the contrasts between the thoughts and actions of righteous people—those who care what God thinks—and wicked persons.

Righteous people have: good thoughts, safe words, secure homes, wise thoughts, and commendation.

The wicked deceive, murder, and are defeated and despised.

Verse 10 reveals a person’s heart. In general, a cruel person is cruel to animals. A good person is kind to animals. My husband and I felt it was important to teach our children to be kind—to animals, even insects—and not to tease and torture them. A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast.    

From verse 11 to the end of the chapter, we have the principle of sowing and reaping in two ways: speech and work ethic.

He who speaks truth, uplifts, puts in a good word, etc. will be known as a good person. Truth will ultimately prevail. This goes for women, as well. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Proverbs 31:26).

The person who works honestly will have his needs met. Verse 11 says, He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread.

On the flipside, the foolish, wicked, evil person thinks up mischief, is covered with shame, has nasty and untruthful words to say, and is snared by his own plans. He doesn’t do honest work, and therefore he either has ill-gotten gain or suffers great need.

The lesson for women, of course, is the same as for men, and it’s echoed in Proverbs 31, about the Virtuous Woman. After extolling the things she does with her hands, the way she provides for her household, etc., the passage concludes with this verse, Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates (verse 31).

Let’s sow kindness, truth, and good, hard work.

May the Lord bless you.

Naming … and shaming

A crowd walks through the streets with placards proclaiming “Black Lives Matter.” Watch what happens when someone says, “White Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter.” Chants of racist fill the air.

Can’t everyone matter?

Parades and special weeks proclaim “Gay Pride” or just “Pride”—to represent all LGBTQ people. Google features a drag queen. Anyone who posts “Straight Pride” or “I am for traditional marriage” is vilified as a homophobe.

Isn’t it okay to prefer one lifestyle?

Many people wear masks for Covid19. Others don’t, saying masks aren’t effective. Some wear them because they’re required. Other people balk, citing the freedom to make their own choices. Asthmatics may choose not to wear a mask because it restricts oxygen. 

Can’t people choose what they wish to wear or not—unless it’s the law?

A lot of churches closed their doors for the pandemic. Some of them still haven’t opened because of the legal restrictions in their countries or areas. Other churches opened with special social distancing seating, sanitizer, and following health guidelines. Quite a few pastors refused to close the doors of their physical buildings at all, citing religious freedom. There has been much discussion on this matter.

May individual, independent churches decide—unless it’s the law?

We won’t even start about politics!

I believe it’s a sad state of affairs when a person cannot speak his mind without everyone else coming down on him. It is awful that one statement is valued and another parallel statement gets mocked. Why is only one viewpoint acceptable? Is there no room for thinking and expressing ideas?

Doesn’t God’s view matter?

The truth is:

  • God made every single human being—of every hue—in an incredibly purposeful, detailed way. Each was made in the image of God. (Psalm 139:13-16; Genesis 1:27)
  • He created male and female and instituted marriage. (Genesis 1:27; 2:22-24)
  • We are to be considerate of others. (Luke 6:31; Philippians 2:3)
  • The Lord wants us to follow the laws of the land. (Romans 13:1-7)
  • God wants us to be kind. (Ephesians 4:32)

Even when we differ, we should be kind. How can Christians hope to win the lost if we’re not nice?

I believe strongly on some of the subjects I mentioned and not so strongly on others. For example, I don’t care who wears a face mask.

But, even if I don’t agree with a person, he or she can still be my friend. I have friends and relatives in every category above, and I respect them as people for whom Jesus died. They are created in the image of God, just as much as I am. I pray for them and care about them.

Jesus said, And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these (March 12:30-31).

Let’s go out and love our neighbors—even when they disagree with us.

May we present our opinions with grace and back them up with biblical truths.

Jesus said, Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:10).

You matter to God. He wants your affection, and He wants you to share that love with others.

Mud spreading? Positive thoughts on negativity

Tired of negativity?

I am.

Maybe I’m overly sensitive, but I’m noticing an awful lot of mudslinging by Christians. Not all of them actually throw mud bombs. Some of them quote others and post links about mud—sharing it secondhand.

Secondhand mud is slime.

I don’t want slime, either.

We all have our own views on politics, religion, race relations, and various and sundries. I think it’s okay to differ on these to some extent. Each person is entitled to his opinion.

I’m not sure, though, that Christians realize how they affect others when they freely share dirt.

Aren’t we supposed to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8)? That’s what the Bible says. We also combat sinful stuff with thankfulness and praise (Ephesians 5:4).

The psalmist said he was actually thinking about God, and it produced joy in his life. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD (Psalm 104:34).

This is why, when I see Christians spreading mud all over a grassy field, it grieves my heart.

What can we share instead? Let me suggest a few ideas:

  • beauty and good design
  • fun
  • Bible verses—Truth
  • praises to God
  • good news stories—dog, cat or child found; someone did something wonderful for someone else; success, achievement; kindness; good testimonies, etc.
  • nice photography
  • tributes
  • happy faces
  • beautiful music
  • artwork

Surely, you’ve thought of something else that reflects Christ, brings happiness to others, and actually points people to the Lord.

Quoting the old Mission Impossible opening, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it,” is to spread good stuff.

Not mud.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Fiction review: No Filter

No Filter is Book 1 in the The Barks and Beans Café Mystery Series, by Heather Day Gilbert.

Macy is a recently divorced young woman who goes back home to Lewisburg, WV to undertake a new business venture with her brother, Bo. It’s a novel idea—pun totally intended—mixing dog petting with a coffee shop. Bo’s former career had made him perfect for the coffee part, and the brother and sister think, if people get attached to the shelter dogs, some of them will get adopted into good homes. The Barks and Beans Café is a brand new start for two young adults who need it. Macy says yes.

She soon moves into her deceased aunt’s house, and she and Bo go into business. The Barks and Beans appeals to the up and comings as well as the established people in town, and the mysteries begin.

The golf instructor is dead, “whacked in the head with a golf club and found face down in a shallow pond.”

Macy soon adopts a gorgeous black Great Dane, and he happens to have belonged to the murdered man.

The more Macy gets involved, the more danger she’s in. The suspect list gets longer and longer. Something just doesn’t add up.

Soon, Macy’s dog is missing.

Despite her brother’s protective warnings, Macy goes out on her own. Not only is she looking for the dog, she’s looking for the killer.

Poor Alice never gets to taste the eclairs.

This book is a page-turner, for sure. Twists, turns, and as many suspects as an Agatha Christie novel. There are lots of quirky people from all walks of life. You won’t be disappointed.

I was thoroughly entertained, on the edge of my seat, and loving every minute of this novel. The end partially wraps things up, leaving plenty of room for a sequel—which is already written. (Iced Over is Book 2. Fair Trade is Book 3.)

Mrs. Gilbert’s writing is excellent. This book is squeaky clean in every way—except for murder, of course. She doesn’t even leave out tea drinkers and cat people. Do you enjoy art? There’s some of that, too.

You will love it. Easily five stars.