“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 promptly 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 the abuse as verbal. You are a reviler when you speak reproachfully or scold others.
The leaders in the Ephesian synagogue publicly maligned Paul’s message. To malign is to criticize in a spiteful and false or misleading way with the intent 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 don’t get the more you seek.
It is so common to revile shepherds that many barely have a twang of conviction that we have acted wickedly. Most of the reviling comes from the desire to have more. When pastors fail to 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 to comply, they speak reproachfully to us.
We can be as dumb as sheep, bobbing our heads in agreement believing we deserved to be reviled. 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 verbal abuse. The only thing God saw was wickedness.
The reviling that takes place in the church will never give us the more we seek. We are dogs devouring one another, too wicked to have more. God is waiting for us to purge all of the wickedness out, so he can give us more of him. There is a good reason God does not give miracles to dogs.
LOG ON NEXT WEEK FOR PART 8: CRUMBS FOR DOGS