rules for a preacher circa 1888, rule 5

“Speak evil of no one, because your word, especially, would eat as doth a canker.  Keep your thoughts within your own breast till you come to the person concerned.”

 When you read this rule, there is an emphasis on the word, “especially.”  This handbook is absolutely reminding the minister of their positional authority in the lives of people. The rule reminds the minister, “if your words are evil, they will be like a flesh eating virus.”  This is a vivid look at the power of the words of a minister.

The danger in speaking evil of someone is that your listener will believe you.  Jesus speaks primarily of transformation of the heart.  He says things like, “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” and, “you will be acquitted and condemned by the words you have said.”  Speaking evil of someone is reflective of a heart that is not transformed by the love of Jesus.  There is an even bigger problem; the chief job of the preacher is to proclaim truth.  Speaking evil of a person may cause people to not believe the truth that you have to tell.  When we proclaim evil, we teach others to do the same.

The person who is called to proclaim the good news of the gospel of Jesus has important words.  Therefore, in and out of the pulpit, every word said matters. The moment you begin to speak negatively of others is the moment that your pulpit loses authority.


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