The End of Strife
Monday, April 23, 2018
Drive out the scoffer, and strife will go out,
and quarreling and abuse will cease.
In any church, or any organization for that matter—a class, a team, a family, a club—one person with an attitude can ruin everything. The classic case is Diotrephes (3 John), who loved to put himself first, talked wicked nonsense against the Apostle John, and kept the church from doing Kingdom work. John pledges to bring up what he is doing, because either the scoffer must either (a) repent, or (b) he must go. Hear Solomon well: You can’t manage a scoffer, you must drive him out.
The Hebrew word for scoffer originally meant “interpreter.” The scoffer, you might say, “interprets” everything, but always in a negative light. Maybe he jokes about everything (so nothing is ever serious). Or he criticizes everything (so nothing is ever good). Or he mocks everyone (so no one is ever respected). However he does it—scoffing comes in lots of flavors—the scoffer dissolves everything good in acid.
You don’t need a book on conflict management to predict the results. Solomon mentions strife and quarreling, but also abuse. The Hebrew word for abuse means “disgrace,” “dishonor,” or “shame.” In other words, the scoffer not only disturbs the group, he dishonors it. He gives it grief within and a bad name without.
Welcome to Christ Church! We all know people like the scoffer, but most of us would say we aren’t like that ourselves. And we aren’t—most of the time. But now is a good time to pray the prayer of David: Search me, O God, and know my heart (Ps. 139:23a).
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