One Is The Loneliest Number
For those who are around my age, or who have parents who force them to endure classic rock radio stations while on family road trips, the title is easily recognized—Three Dog Night and their single, One. Being alone is hard. Even for the hardcore introvert loneliness eventually weighs them down. In the days of Israel belonging to your family, tribe and nation was everything. God worked among His people as a corporate people rather than just through private, individual relationships. He does the same in the Church. Almost every verse I hear people claim people as “their” verse has a corporate perspective rather than a personal one. The images of a flock, a building, a temple and a body all remind us that we do not exist alone.
For the Israelite, aside from being executed for a high crime, the worse thing to happen was to be cut off from the people. No relationships and no access to God through the Temple and festivals and such. In the Church again we have similar realities. The bible speaks of the unrepentant sinner as being viewed as a tax-gatherer and Gentile (terms that speak of avoidance and even disdain). We are commanded to avoid, reject, do not associate with nor even eat with those who don’t repent of sin while professing Jesus as their Lord. And the purpose is not one of self-righteous judgment, looking down our collective noses at the person; rather, it is to bring purity and seriousness into the Body of Jesus Christ while conveying to the person that fellowship has been lost and that they must repent and return.
Gossip, slander and tale-bearing are sins that are popular in the church today. They are not “bad” ones in the eyes of many and are seen as relatively innocent issues. But when you begin to consider the Word of God a very different picture emerges. The gossip and slanderer are people who create divisions and factions in the church. Galatians 5 clearly says that those who do such things are operating under the power of sin rather than the Holy Spirit.
Friendships and relationships are devastated by people of this ilk. Proverbs 16:28 tells us that they are twisted and perverse as they separate intimate friends with their tongue. A mark of a true friend is that they cover a transgression rather than reveal it because of love, but the one who repeats a matter creates a division among friends (Provers 17:9). (Note: this covering is not pretending it didn’t happen but not repeating it to others for the purpose of gossip.) This is why Solomon tells us that they are untrustworthy for they love to reveal secrets (11:3).
All of this brings us back to loneliness. The bible makes it clear that avoidance and rejection is the only appropriate response when you realize that a person is a gossip or slanderer. In Proverbs 20:19 the slanderer is the one revealing secrets that are not his to tell. The answer is to not associate with him. Titus 3:10 commands us to reject the one who brings divisions into the church. There is no room here for equivocation, if this is a person who is known to be gripped by gossip and slander then if they do not listen to your caution and reproof you are to avoid them.
Why? Let me give a short list of reasons:
- It preserves your heart from bitterness both in being betrayed by them and by being pulled into the sin as well.
- It preserves the church from unnecessary strife and stress, helping build unity and care for all who come.
- It gives the gossip no place to find a willing ear.
- It may cause the gossip to stop and consider how they have fallen. To look around and see that they are truly alone and seek to repent and come back into the fellowship of the Spirit.
Tomorrow I will give some biblical advice on putting this sin to death in your own life.