“Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses” (1 Timothy 5:19).
This is a fascinating verse. It tells us that we can hear something with our ears but not receive it in our spirit. This implies that we have the ability to not allow negative things we hear to influence us negatively. This is a profound and necessary realization for those who want us to embrace Proverbs 4:23. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”
If we tend to receive hearsay information and gossip as true, we are unwise and are actually sowing harmful seeds into our future experience. “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:37-38).
“Receive not an accusation.” We are not to automatically accept a bad report we hear as truth. This has far greater application than just hearing things about people as we see in the story in Numbers 13 and 14. In this crucial national crisis, the people received the bad report of the ten spies instead of the report of Joshua and Caleb.
Words are not just containers of information, but they carry a “spirit” that can influence us negatively or positively.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth” (Ephesians 4:29).
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).
“Looking carefully . . . lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:15).
In this hour of social media and 24-hour news cycles, we are empowered by God to hear the facts of circumstances but not receive the corrupting, death, and bitterness spirit attached to the words.
How do we “receive not” the negativity and bad reports we hear?
Fill yourself up regularly on scripture, worship music, and hope-filled messages. Then there will be no room in you for corrupting words.
Practice giving people the benefit of the doubt when you hear accusations against them. Immediately pray for them.
Learn to say to yourself, “I do not receive that” when something you hear is not to be received.
There may never be a more important time than now to embrace this “Do not receive” message. We can avoid being polluted in our spirits by guarding our hearts and staying focused on what God has said to us. We will be glad we did and so will those in our lives.
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Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.