We didn’t know the guinea pig was a girl, much less a pregnant female, when we carried her home from the pet store.
The pet store left out all that info.
I remember my mom instructing us kids not to look into our new guinea pig’s cage one morning because our new pet had given birth in the night.
And she had started to eat her own young before we discovered it and could rescue all of them.
It’s a harsh truth for a child: Nature can be cruel.
It’s not any easier as an adult. We civilized adult human beings—Christians even—are sometimes just as cruel.
Because we Christians sometimes eat our own, too.
About ten years ago, I sat at a dinner table with new acquaintances, Christian women gathered for an evening out. One woman casually mentioned that it was her husband’s ‘hobby’ to be a sort of doctrinal police for all of Christianity. He scouted out mis-steps by any and every Christian pastor or teacher and then publicly and scathingly denounced them on his website. Apparently, it was ‘fun’ for him.
Look up any current public Christian figure and you’ll see the accusations fly: Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, Rick Warren, Priscilla Shirer. They’ve all taken a beating.
Some pastors and teachers do distort Scripture. They are false teachers.
But not all of them. Probably not even most of them.
Yet, there are some who use their own pulpits and blogs to mock and condemn as many others as possible.
I’ve seen it myself. I’ve read a book and then heard the author denounced for things he didn’t say, for quotes lifted entirely out of context and twisted to take on deformed misrepresentations of the author’s intent.
The author hadn’t said that, didn’t mean that, never even implied that. But he was condemned anyway.
When in doubt, read the book yourself. Listen to the sermon yourself. Check the context.
Does it mean when there is real un-truth, real manipulation of Scripture, real abuse that we should just let it go?
Not at all.
But it shouldn’t be ‘fun.’
It should break our hearts to see Scripture mangled, God’s character misrepresented and His people deceived. And we should hold ourselves to the highest standard of Biblical obedience by actually obeying God’s Word ourselves.
Respond with gentleness.
The Bible is unmistakable about how we should defend truth:
- Galatians 6:1 ESV
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
- Ephesians 4:15 ESV
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ
- 2 Timothy 2:24-25 ESV
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness.
- Titus 3:2 NIV
to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
- 1 Peter 3:15 NIV
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect
Show gentleness, respect, patience, and love, particularly when confronting opposition. Do not be quarrelsome. Do not slander.
So, when that preacher mocks another Bible teacher from the pulpit or that blogger rails with unconcealed anger and rampant name-calling against another author, we can ask:
Are they correcting with gentleness, respect, humility and with a broken heart?
If not, then aren’t they also abusing Scripture and their platform under the guise of protecting their followers from deception?
We Christians eat our own.
We mob-attack best-selling authors. We categorize any preacher with a large church and a podcast audience as tainted.
Yet, in the book of Acts when Priscilla and Aquilla heard the popular preacher Apollos speak, they realized he was missing part of the truth. He was teaching in error (Acts 18).
Did they take to the streets of Athens to make fun of his latest book?
Did they rip him apart in an Amazon review or blog-attack his message and question his own personal faith?
Did they put him on some spiritual blacklist, mock him, call him names, and shame anyone who ever listened to one of his sermons?
No, they brought him into their home. They cooked him dinner and shared truth somewhere between the main course and dessert.
Apollos humbly embraced their instruction because they talked to him with gentleness and respect instead of using it as a platform for division and judgment within the church.
Let your gentleness be evident to all (Philippians 4:5 NIV).
It should be a sign of our faith. People should not look at Christians and see spiritual cannibals waiting to devour the next poor victim who publishes a book or grows his church.
They should see Christ’s gentleness—strength with restraint, truth with humility, always driven by love.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.