Minding Your Own Business

The Jewish World Review published a fine article by Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum which can help to guide us in our own interactions with people. In the article, he discusses our duty to speak up when the behavior of another is wrong — that it is our religious duty to point out the error of that individual’s ways. But he qualifies the statement, saying that there are times when it is best to keep our mouths shut!

Two of the exceptions are:

  • When we know that our words will have a negative effect and so be counterproductive.
  • When we know that the individual will scorn our words. He supports this with a reference to Prov 9:8: “do not rebuke a scoffer, lest he hate you. Rebuke a wise man and he will love you.”

Rabbi Sheinbaum has a more to say about this by going into the details of each of these points. I suggest you read it at JWR: Why ‘Bible thumpers’ hurt their cause. I also suggest signing up for the newsletter that The Jewish World Review sends out. It is usually pretty short and to the point with summaries of the full articles that can be read by clicking the links to their website.

This guidance by the Rabbi should also be followed by Christians. We really need to think about our actions and methods when it comes to spreading the Good News. Yes, it is our duty and desire to spread the word about God and Jesus, but brow-beating isn’t the best way to go about it. We must speak in love and respect of those to whom we are talking and in many cases, just living a life of example carries more weight than all the words we will ever have at our disposal — especially when there is scorn or hostility.

There are times when we do need to become vocal and more forceful, but this type situation requires that we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit for guidance and timing. Prayer certainly wouldn’t hurt, either!

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