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3 He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.
It was expressly declared in Psalm 15, that they who indulged in that almost universal practice would not be admitted to the Kingdom of God. This was a future penalty of unspeakable terror: but even now, there was a terrible plague following in the wake of back-biting. Back-biting was to bite a person when their back was turned: to speak against them when their back was turned.
The rule about the matter was simple. We were, of course, all of us more or less faulty and short-coming: but WE WERE NOT ALLOWED TO SPEAK ABOUT EACH OTHER'S FAULTS - still less to help in circulating reports that might be untrue.
We were allowed to confess our own faults, if our neighbour's faults were serious, we were allowed to speak of them to him "between thee and him alone." We were not allowed to -"go up and down among our people as talebearers" or to make ourselves - "busy bodies in other men's matters."
Our part was to be silent about our neighbours unless you have something good to say. I took them to witness how often for thirty years past I had to insist at management meetings on this rule, and to stop the mouth of the accuser in the absence of the accused, still more in the absence of that course of private interview for which the law of Christ called.
I implored them to stand as with a drawn sword over this principle. Their present well being as a community depended upon it, not to speak of their acceptability with Him who would judge us all presently by the standard of His revealed will.
Nothing would sooner chill and disaffect and finally disintegrate them, and scatter them one from another than the habit so common among men of repeating evil rumours or indulging in personal criticism, or making charges on hearsay.
Bro Roberts - Second Voyage to Australia
4 In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear Yahweh. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
There are few tests of character more decisive, especially in little things. There are many things that seem too small to make it necessary to be careful to adhere to principles; little infractions that we can laugh off, or dismiss lightly.
"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful in much: he that is unjust in the least is unjust in much."
If we are unfaithful in little things, then we can be sure that our faithfulness in big things has no sound basis, but is merely the result of fear, necessity, or pride.
In any accepted benefit, there is an implied covenant. The limitations of our circumstances may confine the return to simple thanksgiving, but usually there is much more to be done. The person who fails to realize this -- that whenever he accepts, he is obliged to give -- has not learned the first law of the spirit of life.
The life of Christ was in its entirety a complete and continual giving, and it was the only perfect life. He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister -- not to get, but to give -- not to accumulate, but to distribute. He fully realized the implications of the everlasting covenant.