Beware of ‘Reviling’

Posted on August 24, 2020

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By David Ettinger

Rampant Emotions
With Covid-19 and violent racially-motivated riots assaulting the U.S., emotions are soaring – and the worst emotions at that: hatred, disdain, fear, anger, disgust, and abhorrence.

Sadly, I have seen these emotions manifest themselves in Bible-believing Christians, especially when it comes to politics. Of course, much of what liberals believe contradicts the Bible, and these beliefs should be condemned. In fact, calling out sin is the right thing for Christians to do!

However, it’s the hatred with which Christians call out what irks them which is so wrong. I began noticing this during the presidency of Barak Obama. I, as many evangelicals, disagreed with his policies, but I never hated him or wished him harm. Rather, I prayed for his salvation and left it there.

The same cannot be said for evangelicals who shamelessly expressed their hatred for the president, and all the harm they hoped would befall him. I saw few admonitions from Christians to pray for him. In fact, rather than pray for him, most Christians I know reviled President Obama, and that should never be.

A Behavior Textbook
Christians are commanded NOT to revile. We see this in 1 Peter 2:21, 23:

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His step … while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.

In fact, all of 1 Peter Chapter 2 is a textbook for Christians on proper behavior in a world hostile to our faith and our God. Verses 1-2 read:

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.

Peter wrote during terrifying times for Christians as Roman Emperor Nero had begun murderously persecuting them. Peter realized human nature dictated revenge, but knew this was not the way of the believer. To illustrate this, Peter told of how though Jesus was reviled, he did not revile in return. His message was clear: Christians, when you are hated, don’t return the same hatred.

Reviling
In teaching this lesson, Peter used the very strong word “revile,” which in the Greek is loidoreó. This word goes far beyond “simple” hatred, but rather illustrates what hatred looks like. Definitions of loidoreó include:

  • To abuse insultingly.
  • To make verbal assaults.
  • To spew bitter statements.
  • To use mean-spirited, insulting words to demoralize and humiliate.
  • To heap abuse upon.

Any Christian with the indwelling Holy Spirit should know this is unacceptable behavior. Yet, I have seen these flow freely from Christians in reference to former President Obama, Senators Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the “Squad,” Democrats, and liberal and progressive politicians in general. Such abuse has also been hurled at Hollywood and professional athletes.

Again, those mentioned have taken clear anti-Christian, anti-Biblical stances and have reviled believers and the things we stand for. To point this out is right, but never with the same attitude and tone they employ.

To do so is to revile, and Peter tells us not to revile. And just in case you think I’m blowing this out of proportion, check out this little ditty of a command by Peter:

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation (1 Peter 2:11-12).

How to Behave
It can’t be any clearer! This is how the Lord expects us to behave. And if we can’t curb our reviling while we still have Christian freedom, how are we ever going to do so when things get seriously and dangerously bad?