Saturday, June 28, 2014
The Harm in Words
2Tim. 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will pay him back for his deeds.
2Tim. 4:15 You also must beware of him, for he strongly opposed our message.
What was it that the coppersmith did? It seems that he opposed the message that was brought and he did it with such vigor that great harm was done to the preacher. Now the younger Timothy is being warned that he, too, should beware of this individual, for it seems he has not changed and he will continue to oppose the message.
It is not the place of Timothy to “pay him back for his deeds,” but rather, this is the responsibility of the Lord. Timothy is simply to be aware of what is happening and be wise in responding to the harm being done by Alexander’s words.
I was in a meeting this week of leaders who serve in numerous institutions. The presenter was talking to us about the importance of reputation and the way in which reputation can be easily damaged these days. With the existence of the internet a reputation can be destroyed multiple times over in a nano-second! Sadly, often stories are not fact-checked and the story becomes the reality even when it doesn’t match the reality. Reputations are destroyed and, at times, lives are destroyed simply because of words, which today have the ability to be spread like wild-fire.
In the first century they were not dealing with the internet and yet there was amazing power to be found in words. Alexander had done damage and brought “great harm.” What a sad story. Someone who was intentionally opposing the message which was being preached and who worked hard to create problems for these followers of Christ.
Sadly, these days, it seems that it is those within the community of faith who are often doing the damage to the reputations of others within the community of faith. The attacks of Christian against Christian I find extremely troubling. The reality is that these kinds of conversations are not helpful. The word gives us ways in which to have helpful conversations with brothers and sisters with whom we may not agree. However, writing up our disagreements and forwarding them around to others and/or posting them on the internet only shows the world that there is division within the body of Christ. The world is to know God’s children by their love, not by their ability to be critical of one another. There is great harm in words and when words begin to divide the body of Christ, we have a problem.
We should be warned, just as Timothy was warned, that there are those of whom we must beware, for they are strongly opposing the message. The message is more than the written or spoken word, but the message is the life lived in faith. It is the life lived in seeking the face of God and responding in a way that looks like Christ. Words can harm. We must be aware.
Lord, may I watch the words that I speak and may my life be my message. Amen.