Sunday, June 8, 2014

By Request: An open letter about gossip and judgment.

A dear friend, asked me if I had ever written about dealing with gossip, or judging others.  I have never.  I have taken some time to think about what I might want to say on these subjects.  Here are a couple of points to remember:
  • I never say something about someone that I can not say to their face.
  • I heard it said one time, that if you don't have something nice to say don't say anything at all.
  • I've also heard that if you are struggling for the right words, you can never go wrong with God's word.
I think it is relevant to say that I am guilty of both gossip and judgment.  If you think that you have not done either of these things, than you are only lying to yourself.  Most people at some time or another have done both of these.  It is part of being a FLAWED human.  However, the Lord does have a few things to say about it.
First and foremost as a person of authority; for example, a teacher, pastor, or deacon, His word is clear on the character you should posses.  He spends a great deal of time talking about it in Titus. In the book of Titus, it describes an elder as being someone who is blameless-not overbearing, not quick tempered, and so-on-and-so-on.  Paul tells Titus rather the character of elder should be hospitable, someone who loves what is good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.   Pretty tall orders, but nonetheless, they are what God, characterizes for a good leader.  Dear friend you are the leader, they will take their direction from you and your actions.  Don't over-react or give value to something that is clearly a tool to destroy.  You can choose to follow God's instruction even when it seems to be fruitless, do not let gossip destroy the work of the Lord.  "The thief comes to kill and destroy, but I come to give you life to the full. John 10:10."
Secondly, words are hurtful.  The Bible says in James chapter 3, that not many can become teachers, and that teachers will be judged more strictly.  It also reminds us that no one is perfect, and that we all fall short.  However, it gives a warning that the "tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole body sets the course for one's life on fire, and is it's self set on fire by hell.  All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but NO HUMAN BEING can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison."  James 3:6-8  Personally, I find so much hope in these passages.  There are many days when my thoughts and mouth run away with me. I am comforted knowing that God knows I am not going to be right all the time. Having a big mouth is something so relevant that God had to specifically address it in the Bible several times.  Just go read the book of Proverbs.    In Proverbs there are several verses that imply if you talk to much you are a fool; and that the tongue has the power to give life or death.  Dear friend, remember that words hurt, words matter, and when we use them, we can apologize but that does not always remove the sting.  Remember that God is the great healer and He is the remedy for this situation, you are just a tool, not the problem solver.
Now to discuss judgment.  I really dislike this subject.  Overall, I do not consider myself to be a judgmental person.   Frankly, at this point, I am more concerned with what God is going to say about my sins, I have no responsibility in anyone else's, but I will be accountable for my own.   That is quite enough thank you very much!  I will start with the frequently quoted bible verse about judging: "Don't judge others, or you will be judged. You will be judged in the same way that you judge others, and the amount you give to others will be given to you.  Why do you notice the little piece of dust in your friend's eye, but you don't notice the big piece of wood in your own eye." Mathew 7:1-3   This is a great example of what happens all the time.  We point out each others dust to avoid admitting we have wood in our own eye.  If someone else looks bad, than we can rest easier in our own sin, because we put it in a worldly economy of which sins are worse than another.  The truth is sin is sin and it does not matter what sin it is, it all separates us from God. I really do not like judgment, but I will say it is often confused with conviction.  It is a Biblical responsibility to share the truth of Jesus, and the truth is not at all popular in this world.  The choices that Jesus would have Christians make are unpopular with today's society, and making a stand for Jesus is often followed by accusations of being self-righteous or judgmental.  My dear friend, as you deal with these issues and you make those stands, I think the answer is clear, you must stand on the side of Jesus, and leave any and all opinions out.  Let God's word do the talking.
Now by definition the Bible says that Jesus is love.  It also says that love covers a multitude of sins, and perfect love drives out fear.  My friend, the only way to get past this struggle in your ministry is to love as Jesus has called you to love. You have to love the seemingly unlovable, because whether they are kind to you or down right mean to you, Jesus loves them and you are His hands and feet.  Now, how do you do that, when you don't want to?  You have to pray hard and pray big.  You have to set good boundaries so you are not a doormat for abuse, but a stepping stone to introduce the love of Jesus.  People don't believe they can be loved.  They don't believe they deserve love they have not "earned."  That is not what Jesus says.  Jesus loves and He came to give abundant life.  He chose you, and He has equipped you.  He has given you exactly what you need, and that is He who lives in you.  Lean on Him and He will direct your path.
Personally, you are a dear friend, that I have know many years.  You are loved, you are treasured by God, but also by me and many others.  You are not alone in this, it is just a diversion to stop the goods works you are accomplishing in His name.  The Lord blessed me with you, and you with me.  Now may you be blessed abundantly, and may the Lord strengthen your ministry and give you peace as you go forward.
At your request, this is my mindset, now let me hear yours!

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