READ: Proverbs 18, Luke 6, 2 John


Words matter. Sticks and stones break bones and words crush spirits. When Jesus instructed us to “bless those who curse” us (Luke 6:28), it is in the context of verbal wars. In the text He warns us that we are in danger when all men speak well of us, for this is what is done to the false (v. 26). The cursing of men is word-oriented by definition and practice. Jesus is radically saying: “Woe to you when all men bless you with their words, and blessed are you when men curse you with their words.” While we might enjoy the affirmation of the heathen and the hypocrite, it is actually the kiss of death. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” says Proverbs 18:21, and we must be vigilant that the praise of the twisted does not lead to our demise. In the same vein, we must not allow the cursing of the twisted to harm us, for it can. Neither the affirmation nor the accusation of humanity should be allowed to sway us. We respond to comprehensive adulation by running from it terrified; we respond to comprehensive cursing by blessing with verbal blessing. We affirm, appreciate, encourage, and give life to those who attack, and in so doing we take their weapon from them. Words matter, both on offense and defense. Words can hurt us (either by flattery or insult), and we need to be immune to both forms of poison. Words can help us, for when we use our words to bless our enemies it shocks and disarms them.

Truth matters. John shockingly tells us not to abide in those who do not abide in the doctrine of God (2 John 9). John in one breath tells us to love one another (v. 5) and in the next to have nothing to do with those who think and speak wrongly of the divine, incarnate Savior, not even to greet them or show them hospitality (v. 10). John is not referring to those outside the household of faith; he is referring to those who claim to bear the name of Jesus but deny His deity and person. To them we bless by the gift of truth. Christians tend to be too hard on the wolves and too soft on the sheep. We castigate and judge the unconverted (forgetting that sinners naturally sin) and excuse and accommodate the redeemed (forgetting that the ransomed are supposed to cease from sinning). We bless the wicked by showering love on them; we bless the righteous by pouring truth into their ears. We do the people of God no favors when we allow what is bent and twisted to have a place among us. The highest good we can do to those who claim to magnify Jesus but in reality distort Him is to confront them face to face (v. 12) so that ultimately, even if the journey involves pain, their joy may be full.

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