But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”. Jude 9 (NIV).
Ok, I’m going to admit I’m hesitant to discuss this; perhaps I should watch my words.
For Jude 9, I researched some heavy Scriptures (listed below) and some deep analysis of the verse. To paraphrase all of it, Jude 9 is an apocalyptic verse that discusses a supernatural battle and the moral we should draw from it, namely that we should simply say what we mean. The way Jesus put it, “let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’, and let your ‘no’ mean ‘no.’” Jesus stuck to the facts; he wasn’t into adjectives or adverbs. Or, to put it another way, as Thumper might say, “if you don’t got nuthin nice to say, don’t say nuthin at all.” Even Bing Crosby could chime in for us to, “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, don’t mess with Mister In-Between.” There. That wasn’t so tough.
If you’ll recall, in Jude 8, we are encouraged to respect everyone, especially our ‘betters’ from the angelic realm. One way to boil that down is to stick to what Jesus recommended: yes and no. If we keep our comments respectful and simple, while it might infuriate our inner English teacher, it also will keep us out of trouble.
A few weeks ago, we discussed how 2 Peter 10-11 (and Jude 9) referred to an apocryphal text called, “The Assumption of Moses.” The only known copy of it was discovered in the 1860s, and it was incomplete. Still, what we know of the story is that God’s archangel, Michael, fought Satan for the body of God’s greatest prophet, Moses. In doing so, pristine angel to fallen angel, Michael chose to not slander or demean even the devil himself, only to oppose and fight him. Let God do the heavy lifting, especially in our speech.
If God’s chief general can do that, I think we can manage as well.
After all, cheap talk is cheap. Coarse words are coarse. Shaming the shameful is, itself, shameful. You get the drift. Revenge isn’t for us; vengeance is only for God to mete out. That includes how we talk with each other. We can (and sometimes should) oppose or battle each other, but our doing so should be forceful, upright, and powerful yet just, not demeaning. In those battles, use whatever weapons are at your disposal, just make sure you don’t shame yourself – or your Lord – in the process.
Perhaps Jesus, Thumper, and Bing Crosby would agree.
For further reading: Deuteronomy 34:6, Daniel 10:13&21, Daniel 12:1, Zechariah 3:2, Matthew 5:37, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 2 Peter 2:10-11, Revelation 12:7, Jude 10
Lord Jesus, teach me Your way to speak, to battle, to hold my tongue.
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