You have heard that the ancients were told, “You shall not commit murder” and “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, “You good-for-nothing,” shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, “You fool,” shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. (Matthew 5:21-22 NASB)
I have been following a discussion about a fellow pastor, and I am bothered by what the discussion has turned into. Bothered enough to actually send out this warning to all my brothers and sisters in the Lord about the danger of name-calling.
I do not believe that this practice has any place in the speech of the Jesus follower, the Christian (yes, there is a difference), or, for that matter, anyone else. There is simply no need for it. In fact, if you look at the New Testament, the only time Jesus called anyone names was when dealing with religious hypocrites who were more concerned with pointing out other people’s faults and sins and making sure people weren’t picking grain on Saturday than they were their own salvation.
But name-calling is dangerous. In fact, Jesus is clear enough that he seems to make name-calling one of those sins that sends you to hell. In His own words:
Whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
In pointing this out I want the reader to know that I have been guilty of this sin in the past myself. I am not free from guilt in this regard. And I am constantly repentant over my own language at times as I too can be crass. But can’t we all? Don’t we all go a little too far at times in what we say to and about others? So I am not pointing this out from some high and lofty place as if I am not guilty.
But, as an aspiring leader in the Body, I know that it is my responsibility to hold the rest of my brothers and sisters accountable, which is what I am doing here. I don’t want to see any of you become the victim. I don’t want any of you to be guilty enough to go to hell. I want to save you from that.
So I conclude with this exhortation: If you don’t want to be guilty enough to go to hell, don’t call your brothers and sisters names.