We like to say we're "pro-life" because of all that we're for -- babies, life, helping people at the end of life. Abortion advocates, on the other hand, like to call us "anti-abortion" so everyone will think of us as the wet-blankets and killjoys of society, that we want to intrude into everyone's private lives.
We can be glad that the Bible teaches the pro-life ethic both positively and negatively, as in Titus 3:1-2:
Remind the people . . . to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
Paul wanted Christians to know how to live in the world. Verse 1 says we’re to submit to secular rulers and, therefore, the “everyone” of verse 2 encompasses them too. It doesn’t say we’re only expected to submit to morally upright government leaders, or refrain from slandering the ones with whom we agree. Recall that the authorities of Paul’s day were anything but godly.
“Slander no one” is an echo of James 3:8-10, which urges us to tame our tongues and not be guilty of praising God out of one side of our mouths while cursing men out of the other. James uses the strongest language: “This should not be!” Such behavior is unseemly because human beings have been made in God’s likeness. If you curse a man, you curse his Maker, as it says in Proverbs 17:5.
“Be gentle toward everyone” is the positive restatement of “slander no one.” The ESV renders it, “show perfect courtesy toward all people.” If we’re to treat people decently because they bear God’s image, “everyone” includes all our neighbors, all our brothers and sisters, the political opposition, the lovely and the unlovely, the sinner as well as the saint.
In Galatians 6:10, Paul specifies that the aim of Christian ministries of mercy is to first help the family of God, but he prefaced that with the instruction: “let us do good to all people.” And the kind of help people can be given, it says in Titus 3:1, is widely varied: “Whatever is good.”
Paul goes on in Titus 3:3-8 to remind us we were once the objects of God’s mercy – as foolish and disobedient and deceived and enslaved as could be. We were spending all our time thinking about ourselves and hating other people, but then “the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared.” Hallelujah!
As peaceable and considerate and gentle as Jesus has been toward us, let us so be to all men. And, as much time as we formerly spent serving “all kinds of passions and pleasures” we can now expend on the good of others.
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