Ray Ortlund|7:20 AM CT

The scoffer

“A worthless person, a wicked man,
goes about with crooked speech,
winks with his eyes, signals with his feet,
points with his finger,
with perverted heart devises evil,
continually sowing discord;
therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly;
in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.”  Proverbs 6:12-15

“Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out,
and quarreling and abuse will cease.”  Proverbs 22:10

“Those who rebuke the wicked will have delight,
and a good blessing will come upon them.”  Proverbs 24:25

“For lack of wood the fire goes out,
and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.”  Proverbs 26:20

“As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”  Titus 3:10-11

Not every opinion deserves a place at the table.  It is the responsibility of a church’s elders to monitor the conversation going on in their church and encourage the positive and confront the negative.

Sadly, some people just don’t listen.  They are too self-assured.  Reasonable discourse leaves them unsatisfied, because they are unsatisfiable.  They do not feel that you understand them until you agree with them.  The only acceptable outcome is their outcome, which they will pursue relentlessly.  The Bible calls this kind of person a scoffer (Proverbs 9:7-8; 13:1; 15:12; 21:24).  He (or she) might be a highly impressive person outwardly.  Very able.  A strong personality.  Convincing.  But even in little ways (“. . . winks with his eyes”), this person sows discord in their church — small provocations with big impact.

Sometimes people overreach in this way because they claim they have been hurt.  But no one, however wounded, has the right to disrupt the blood-bought peace of a church.  The sacred wounds of Christ overrule all others.  Moreover, in today’s climate of victimization, hurt can, in fact, be hate.  Elders are responsible to discern this and confront it, even if the person offending is a long-standing member and a personal friend.

It is the privilege of elders to keep the conversation going on 24/7 in their church positive — about Jesus, his gospel and his mission.  Those elders who accept this clear teaching of the Bible and courageously follow through will, in the long run, “have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them.”  To preserve their church in those green pastures and beside those still waters, the elders might have to ask the trouble-maker to leave.  They will do so reluctantly and carefully, and they will try not to embarrass the offender, but faithful elders will obey the Bible.  And everyone in their church will breathe a sigh of relief.


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