As Christians, we know that we’re in a battle. We know that we’re genuinely interested in advancing God’s Kingdom and God’s love, grace, and truth here on earth. And we ought to know that how we do that matters. Thus, we out to know that aiming our slings at our brothers and sisters in Christ is absolutely NOT God’s heart for us as a community of believers.
I find it interesting that about a week after I wrote my last blog post, the Lord has continuously been reminding me of the power of words. Our words have power. They have the ability to hurt, to harm, to encourage, to inspire, to heal, to restore, to tear down, to build up, to transform, to be a catalyst for change, and the list could go on.
In the story of David and Goliath, we find David using a slingshot and carefully selected stones to defeat an enemy of God. Goliath was an enemy out to do God and God’s people harm. Did you know that a sling was not a “poor man’s” weapon? In fact, it was a very deadly weapon. Here’s how one reference describes the use of a slingshot:
The sling consisted of a leather swatch with straps attached on each end (e.g., 1 Chr 12:1). The warrior inserted a stone into the leather, held the ends of the two straps, and whirled it around over his head. Once he had achieved sufficient centrifugal speed, he would release it and send it soaring with great accuracy. The manner in which the story of David and Goliath has been told has led to the perception that the sling was nothing more than a poor shepherd’s substitute for a real weapon. In fact, ancient armies would have entire corps of sling operators. They were feared because of the deadly power of their projectiles and their exceptionally precise aim. Slingshots did not have the range of compound bows, but Yadin states, “The slingsmen were particularly effective in attacks on a city, for they could direct high-angled fire up steep slopes (Yadin, Art of Warfare, 297). 1
So friends, let me ask you, and hear me because I’m asking myself these very same questions because I’m absolutely committed to living a life of holiness and integrity and owning it when I blow it (which happens!):
- Where are your shots being aimed? Are they in the right places?
- Are you intentionally using your words to tear a fellow sister or brother down? You see in the Body of Christ, we ARE responsible for how we behave, and WE CAN challenge each other to do better!
- Are you aiming to take one of God’s chosen out of the race?
- What motives are driving you when you seek to speak meanly or viciously about a fellow Christian? (I’m not talking here about addressing behaviour, I’m talking about attacking them as a person. I’m talking about sometimes making assumptions about people you’ve never personally met and then vocalizing to others.)
- If you’re offended with a fellow believer, are you going to that person and talking with them? Or are you talking about them and avoiding the problem? You know, most leaders I know, especially those who are deep in the public arena and putting themselves out there, are interested in keeping short accounts, don’t rob them of that opportunity by not talking to them. I mean that sincerely. So if I am a person whom you feel has done you wrong, please, please come and have a conversation with me – don’t rob me of the opportunity to grow as a person.
- Have you taken up an offence on someone else’s behalf and are acting it out by treating someone disrespectfully and by gossiping about them – even though you may have never had a personal conversation with them?
- How are you speaking about others? Are your words building them up? Have you told those leading you, teaching you, serving you, just how much you value their contribution?
- Are your behaviours leading others to believe that you value and love them because they are your brother or sister in Christ?
If you got this far, I’d encourage you to spend some time over the next little while reading and reflecting through 1 John – all of it! And here’s why: the letter it is a powerful reminder that God has given us Spirit to keep his commandments, to live and love differently, and to know the truth and obey it… if we’re willing.
“If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.” (1 John 3:14–15, NLT)
Aim your slings in the right direction, it really is a matter of life and death.