Berean Studies / Ber08 - Evil speaking and Evil Surmising
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Single Click a triangle below to see the references CT Russell selected for the associated question. The study questions (with the references) are also included as an attached Adobe PDF file at the bottom of this page.
1. What is evil speaking?
2. How prevalent is this fault among even those who profess to be Christians?
3. What is the power of the tongue?
4. What is meant by a ‘tongue set on fire of gehenna’?
5. What are the baneful influences of evil speaking, and what are some of the excuses and subterfuges offered by the fallen ...
6. What is evil surmising and what is its relation to evil speaking?
7. What are ‘secret faults,’ and of what two kinds are they?
8. Is an evil suggestion a sin, and how does it become a secret fault?
9. What is a ‘presumptuous sin,’ and when does a secret fault become a presumptuous sin?
10. What is the ‘great transgression’ to which these sins lead?
11. How may we purify and keep our hearts pure from these sins?
12. How is the Lord judging us?
13. Why should we render to God a daily account of any ‘idle’ (pernicious) words?
14. How are words the index of our hearts?
15. What does purity of heart signify?
16. What is the importance of a pure heart?
17. How may purity of heart be attained?
18. How do we know our motive is pure, since ‘the heart is deceitful above all things’?
19. What is the relation between our conscience and purity of heart?
20. Might telling the truth be evil speaking?
21. Is it always necessary to tell all we know about every affair?
22. Is an uncomplimentary remark evil speaking?
23. Would it be evil speaking to criticize doctrines publicly uttered?
24. What is a slanderer?
25. What is ‘false witness,’ and is it possible to bear false witness without uttering a word?
26. How should we deal with a brother or sister who begins to relate an evil report?
27. How should we deal with persons of the world who do evil speaking?
28. Is evil speaking against a brother in Christ more culpable than against one of the world?
29. In order to avoid gossip, slander and evil speaking, what is the only proper and Scriptural way of redress for grievanc...
30. How should we deal in a matter of evil speaking against an Elder?
31. Why is ‘a bridled tongue’ a chief essential in an Elder?
32. How may we ask advice and not do evil speaking?
33. What is the relation between ‘busy- bodying’ and evil speaking?
F583 ¶1 to 586 - Conscientious Meddling
"Busybodying in other men's matters" is severely reproved by the Apostle, as wholly inconsistent with the new minds of the New Creation. (1 Tim. 5:13; 1 Pet. 4:15) A busybody is one who busies himself in the affairs of others, with which he has properly nothing whatever to do. Even the "children of this world" are wise enough in their generation to discern that in the brief span of present life a person of reasonably sound mind has quite sufficient to occupy him in attending to his own business properly; and that if he should give sufficient attention to the business of others to be thoroughly competent to advise them and meddle in their concerns he would surely be neglecting to some extent his own affairs. Much more should the New Creatures begotten of the Lord to the spirit of a sound mind, realize this truth, and additionally realize that they have still less time than the world for meddling in the affairs of others, their time being not their own, because of their full consecration of time, talent, influence, all to the Lord and his service.
Such, even if lacking a naturally sound mind on this subject, will be constrained in the right direction by the injunctions of the Scriptures, and by the realization that the time is short for the fulfilment of their covenanted sacrifice. They should also realize that the Golden Rule, required of the New Creation, prohibits everything akin to busybodying. Assuredly they would not appreciate having others meddle in their business, and should be equally careful to do to others as they would be done by. The Apostle realized, nevertheless, that the reverse of this is the general worldly spirit, and, hence, admonishes the saints to study, to practice, to learn, along this line. His words are, "Study to be quiet, and to do your own business." 1 Thess. 4:11
This natural disposition to be careful about the affairs of others, and to lend a hand in correcting them, and in picking motes out of a brother's eye, to the neglect of the beam in one's own eye, as the Lord illustrated the matter (Matt. 7:3-5), sometimes attacks the New Creature in a peculiar form. He fancies that it is his "duty" to advise, to pick, to investigate, to chide, to reprove. As he turns the matter over in his mind he convinces himself that not to do so would be sin; and thus he becomes what we might designate a conscientious busybody, or meddler--one whose meddlesomeness is made doubly strong and aggressive by a misinformed and misdirected conscience. These, often sincere and good people, veritable New Creatures, are hindered by this flaw in all that they attempt to do in the Lord's service. Each should take himself in hand, and learn to apply the rules of justice and love already pointed out. He should educate his conscience to discriminate between brotherly duty and busybodying; and so far as our observation goes the majority of the Lord's people, as well as of the world, would find themselves doing a great deal less chiding, rebuking, faultfinding and picking, after coming to appreciate the rules of justice and of love, as combined in the Golden Rule and applied to the affairs of life and their intercourse with others.
It is safe to inquire respecting any matter suggesting itself along these lines--Is it any of my business? In our intercourse with the world we will generally find upon careful examination that it is not our business to chide or reprove or rebuke them. We have been called of the Lord, and have turned aside from the course of the world to follow in the narrow path; that is our business. We should desire the world to let us alone, that we may follow the Lord; and correspondingly, we should let the world's concerns alone, addressing ourselves and our Gospel message to him that "hath an ear to hear." The world, not having been called of the Lord, and not having come into the "narrow way," has a right to choose respecting its own way, and has a right to expect that we will not interfere, as we do not wish to be interfered with. This will not hinder the fact that our light will be shining, and thus we will indirectly be exercising a continued influence upon the world, even though we do not reprove or otherwise meddle in the affairs of others. Where the matter is one of business, in which we are financially concerned, it, of course, will not be meddling with other people's business, but minding our own business, to give proper attention to such a matter. Neither is it meddling for the parent to have a knowledge and direction in respect to all the transpiring interests of the family and home. Yet even here the personal rights of each member of the family should be considered and conserved. The husband and father of the family being recognized as its head and chief in authority, should use that authority in loving moderation and wise consideration. The individuality of the wife, her tastes and preferences, should have his consideration, and as his representative she should be qualified with full power and authority in her own special domain as his helpmate and homekeeper; and in his absence she should represent his authority fully in respect to all the affairs of the family. The children also, according to age, should be given a reasonable degree of privacy and individuality in their affairs, the parent merely exercising his authority and supervision in such connections as would minister to the order and comfort of the home, and to the proper development of its members in matters mental, moral and physical. Children should be early taught not to pick at each other, nor to meddle with each other's belongings, but to respect each other's rights and to do kindly and generously each to the other according to the Golden Rule.
Nowhere is this admonition against busybodying more important to be remembered than in the Church. Brethren should speedily learn, from the Word as well as from precept and example of the elders, that it is not the divine intention that they should meddle in each other's business nor discuss each other; but that here, as elsewhere, the divine rule applies, "Speak evil of no man." Busybodying-- thinking and talking about the private affairs of others, with which we have no direct concern--leads to evil speaking and backbiting, and engenders anger, malice, hatred, strife, and various works of the flesh and of the devil, as the Apostle points out. (Col. 3:5-10) Thus it often is that little seeds of slander are planted and that great roots of bitterness develop, whereby many are defiled. All who have the new mind surely recognize the banefulness of this evil, and all of them should be models in their homes and neighborhoods. The worldly mind can realize that murder and robbery are wrong, but it requires a higher conception of justice to appreciate the spirit of the divine Law--that slander is an assassination of character, and that stealing a neighbor's good name under any pretext is robbery. The worldly-minded grasp this matter to some extent, and their sentiments are represented in the poet's words: "He who steals my purse steals trash;...but he who filches my good name steals that which not enriches him, but leaves me poor indeed."
F408 ¶1 to 3 - "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh"; so that when we are gossiping about others, "busybodying" in their affairs, it proves that a large corner of our hearts, if not more, is empty as respects the love and grace of God. This thought should lead us at once to the throne of grace and to the Word for a filling of the Spirit such as the Lord has promised to those who hunger and thirst after it. If, still worse than idle gossiping and busybodying, we have pleasure in hearing or speaking evil of others, the heart condition is still worse: it is overflowing with bitterness--envy, malice, hatred, strife. And these qualities the Apostle declares are "works of the flesh and the devil." (Gal. 5:19-21) Would that we could astound and thoroughly awaken the "New Creation" on this subject; for if ye do these things ye will surely fall, and no entrance will be granted such into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Fitting for the Kingdom leads us in the very opposite direction, as the Apostle Peter declares, "Add to your faith patience, brotherly kindness, love; for if ye do these things ye shall never fall; but gain an abundant entrance into the Kingdom." (2 Pet. 1:5-11) The Apostle James is very plain on the subject and says: "If ye have bitter envyings and strife in your hearts, glory not and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish." (James 3:14,15) Whoever has such a slanderous and bitter spirit has the very reverse of the Spirit of Christ, the holy Spirit, the spirit of Love: let him not lie either to himself or to others--let him not glory in his shame --let him not thus put darkness for light, the spirit of Satan for the Spirit of the Anointed.
Proceeding, the Apostle declares the secret of the confusion and unrest which has troubled the Lord's people at all times, to be in this unclean, only partially sanctified condition of the heart, saying, "where envying and strife is, there is confusion [disquiet, unrest] and every evil work." (James 3:16) If these weeds of the old fallen nature are permitted to grow they will not only be noxious but will gradually crowd out and kill all the sweet and beautiful flowers and graces of the Spirit.
34. How should the Golden Rule help us to overcome evil speaking and evil surmising?
35. What is the sole exception to this rule, ‘Speak evil of no man’?
36. What inspiration should we receive from Jesus’ example?
37. How can we overcome evil surmisings and evil speaking?
38. What additional thoughts are found in index of Heavenly Manna under ‘Evil’?
39. What special experiences and practices have helped you to overcome evil surmisings to some extent?
40. As we realize how insidious this foe of the ‘new creature,’ what should be our daily prayer?
Psalms 19:12-14 - Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. (13) Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. (14) Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.