Psalm 15:1-3 O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
Thank the Lord for imputed righteousness, that the Lord Jesus has fulfilled this standard, and in union with Him we may dwell in the presence of the Lord. Knowing that truth, I am motivated to increasingly reflect his righteousness in my own life, demonstrating my heavenly destination.
All of these descriptions are provoking, but the one that stood out today was the last one. To take up a reproach, to hear it, perpetuate it, agree with it, to quickly join the crowd of accusers, is not to reflect my union with Christ, my inheritance in heaven. Heaven is not a place that celebrates those who are quick to take up a reproach.
Clearly this cannot eliminate appropriate private correction or even public rebuke through the process of Biblical church discipline (Matt. 18, 1 Cor. 5). However, this verse does have in view the whispered, reproachful conversation among those who have no involvement in a Biblical process of discipline. This targets a person who is willing to hear and believe an unproven criticism against one who is their brother or sister in Christ, especially one with whom they have walked in the faith. Such a purveyor or receiver of reproach is not hoping all things, believing all things, is not steadfast in trial, and surely is not loyal in the face of adversity.
Whenever I take up an unproven or unbiblical reproach against a friend, I am not reflecting heaven, but aiding hell.
Lord, forgive my countless careless and sinful words. Forgive the many occasions I have continued to listen when I should have stopped. Forgive me for the delight I feel in hearing a morsel of reproach against a friend in Christ. Thank you for representing me with your perfect speech and holy listening. Far from taking up a reproach against me, you bore my reproaches and my guilt on the cross. Change me to reflect your righteousness. Purify your church so that we exhibit your image.