On Throwing — Ek-ballo, Dia-ballo. GCW public domain
One of the commonest words in the Greek New Testament is Ballo, 'I throw,' or its derivatives. There are a number of words formed from this word, by adding a preposition to it, as, for example: Ek-ballo, 'I throw out.' We get our English word 'ball' from this word ballo, so every time a boy or girl talks about a 'ball', he can be reminded of this word in the Greek New Testament. Actually it is very rarely translated 'throw', but rather, 'cast', 'put,' or occasionally, 'lay.' In Mark 12: 42, the poor widow 'threw' in two mites; and in Acts 22: 23, the mob who tried to kill Paul 'threw' dust into the air.
I want you to think for a little while about the word ek-ballo, 'I-throw-out.' It is translated in a number of different ways: 'cast out' Matt. 7: 5; 'send forth' Matt. 12: 20; 'drove out' John 2: 15, etc. The thought is, I believe, forcibly sending something, or someone, out: as a boy forcibly sends a ball out, when he throws it. The ball is not consulted as to this, the force and power all come from the one who throws it. If you will turn to Matt. 9: 38 or Luke 10: 2, you will see words something like these: "The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest." The word translated 'send forth' is ek-ballo in each of these Gospels. The Lord of the Harvest Himself is the one that sends forth, or, thrusts forth (New Trans.) these labourers. It is not left to the labourer's own choice as to whether he will go or not. No man, not even a mission board, has the authority to send forth these labourers. No, the Lord of the harvest alone has right to send forth a labourer. And I need hardly add that if the Lord of the harvest sends forth a labourer, He will make Himself responsible for the support and care of that labourer: even though he may share some of the sufferings of the Apostle Paul, described in 2 Cor. 11; such as 'weariness and painfulness, watchings often, hunger and thirst, fastings often, cold and nakedness' and, Oh, so many more. But the Apostle reckoned that these sufferings, which were but for a moment, were not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. See Romans 8: 18; 2 Cor. 4: 17,18.
"I will give her My cross of suffering, My cup of sorrow to share:
But in robes of white, in the Glory bright, All shall be righted there."
But there is another word we must consider in this Scripture, and that is the word that the Lord used here for 'Pray.' "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He would send forth labourers into His harvest." There are a number of words used in the New Testament for pray, but this is the strongest of them all. It is deomai: it might be translated 'beseech', or 'supplicate.' Mr. Darby uses 'supplicate' in his New Translation. Now, Beloved, I wonder how many of us obey the Lord's command (for it is a command) given to us in these verses. I wonder how often in our own private prayers we supplicate the Lord of the harvest to thrust forth labourers. I wonder how often in the Prayer Meetings do we hear this earnest, fervent supplication. I fear not very often. Is it for this reason that the labourers are so pitifully few? The harvest is just as great as ever, and the right sort of labourers unspeakably few: so this prayer the Lord taught His disciples is just as applicable as ever for our own day.
The next word I would ask you to consider is Dia-ballo. It means literally 'I throw across.' It is only used once in the New Testament as a verb, that is in Luke 16: 1. Here it is translated 'accuse.' It may remind us of the old proverb, "People who live in glass houses should not throw stones." And the meaning of the word has come to be, 'To slander, defame, accuse falsely or maliciously.' Where it is used in Luke 16, it tells of someone who accused the unjust steward to his master. Now the use of this word lets us know that it was not out of love to the master that he did this, but out of spite to the steward.
There is one very striking example of a man who 'threw across' stones and dust with a malicious intent. His name is Shimei, and we may read the story in 2 Sam. 16: 5-13. "Shimei went along on the hill's side over against him (David, his rejected king) , and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust." David is a picture of our Lord Jesus, the true King, but rejected and cast out. How many there are who like to throw stones at Him today, or at His followers. And, sad to say, there is many a true Christian even now who seems to spend his time throwing stones and dust at his fellow-Christians: and it is much to be feared, sometimes doing it with malicious intent. In fact he is doing the work called in the New Testament, dia-ballo.
Now, there is one, more than any other who does this work. In fact so constantly is he employed in it, — the work of casting stones and dust at the Lord's people, — that in the New Testament this personage has won for himself the name, Dia-boles,' 'The one who throws (stones) ,' or 'The Slanderer.' This word is used many times, and with three exceptions, (1 Tim. 3: 11; 2 Tim. 3: 3; Titus 2: 3) it is always translated 'devil.' This ought to pull some of us up pretty sharply. Are we doing the work of the devil: helping him in his own special work of accusing the brethren (Rev. 12: 10)? (And even Peter could do the work of the devil).
This is a very solemn question for us to ask ourselves. Are we helpers in the Lord's harvest fields today, by supplicating the Lord of the harvest to thrust forth (ek-ballo) labourers into His harvest fields? or, Are we weakening the hands of His labourers by throwing stones and dust across at them (dia-ballo)? There are, I doubt not, labourers today standing idle; while the harvest fields are white, waiting for them: and all because some of us have been employed in dia-ballo instead of ek-ballo.
I can hardly leave this word dia-ballo without a reference to the three places where it is not translated 'devil.' The first (1 Tim. 3: 11) refers to the wives of the deacons, and tells them they are not to be slanderers, — not to be 'devils,' for 'devil' means 'slanderer.' The second scripture is 2 Tim. 3: 3, and tells us that in the last days men shall be . . . false accusers: that is 'slanderers.' This is one of the marks of the times in which we live: and brothers and sisters alike are liable to fall into this horrid sin. The third time this word is used in this way (Titus 2: 3) is in a special message to the "aged women" that they are not to be 'false accusers.'
Some of the stones and dust that we throw hurt far more than ever we intended they should; and let us bear in mind that we can greatly hinder the work of the Lord, on the one hand, or greatly help it, on the other by our use of ekballo or diaballo.
Which is it going to be???