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4 things to keep in mind to avoid Gossip.

gossipAs I mentioned in the last post, gossip is one of those sins that seems to have a perpetual grey area: When do you know if you have crossed the line?

The company gossip keeps in passages that mention it are things like slander, idleness, malice, inappropriate conversations and things like that. One way you might notice gossip is if you see some of those characters hanging around.

If you were to use Strong’s concordance to find a definition of the word, you will find “whispering” and “secret detraction”. Whispering we understand: (Pssst! Listen to this but don’t tell anyone…” It is a secret simply because you don’t tell it in the open. Face it, who gossips about Joe when Joe is right there with them? Detraction is something that takes away from a person, perhaps their character or reputation may be attacked OR the person gossiping tries to make them smaller in order to try and increase their own  status.

Some definitions that people gave me which I think are good are as follows:

  • The speech intended to hurt, discredit, or simply set up in a bad light.
  • Repeating what you heard or thought you heard, sometimes adding your own spin
  • The propagation of rumor or slander, whether factual or fictional

David Watson, who preaches for the Benchley church of Christ provided this definition : The sharing of personal or negative information, either true or false, about someone else without righteous intent.  (Note: This doesn’t mean that you want your intent to be righteous. It either is or is not)

Which brings me to the 4 things that I think will, if we keep them in mind, help us avoid gossip.

#1. What is the content of the information?

The content of the information, in order to not be gossip, must be absolutely true without spin or exaggeration. Just because something is true does not mean that it is NOT gossip, but statements which are false, misleading, or slanted for effect or sensationalism will quickly fall into gossip, rumors, or slander.

#2. What is the motive for telling the information?

Is it needed for the good of the person to whom you tell OR is it good for the person whose information you are sharing? Sharing information with people who do not need the information to protect themselves is a lot closer to gossip than we generally acknowledge. Sharing information that does not help the person you are talking about is almost always going to fall into the category of idle speaking and gossip.

When dealing with first graders, who are notorious for tattling, a question I often asked them was this: “Are you telling me this because you want them to be in trouble or because they are in danger?” To get a fellow student in trouble (e.g. they are not walking in line) is tattling but if they are in danger (e.g. He has a lighter and is burning his shoe lace) it is acceptable information sharing.

#3. Are you open about your part in the sharing of the information?

Have you ever told someone something you thought they should know, perhaps even so they could do something about it and then added “But don’t tell them where you heard it.”? If this is not “whispering” I do not know what is.  Again, by itself, this is not a full proof example of gossip. However, I would hope we can tell the difference between someone needing to be in a witness protection program and a neighbor, friend or acquaintance who might be settling a grudge, simply stirring the pot of conflict, or who wants to avoid being embarrassed if the target of their information ever found out who was the source.

#4.  Are you sharing this with someone who can actually solve the problem?

Sharing your dissatisfaction with your company’s vacation policy with the janitor is not going to solve the problem.  It will only serve to discourage the janitor who may think he/she is working for a great company.  If you have a problem with the vacation policy, talk to HR or the Boss but don’t discuss with others. Even if a majority agreed with you, you run more of a risk of sedition (a close cousin to gossip and slander) than actually solving the problem.

Ok, So I promised to share with you why Chloe’s report to Paul and his rebuke to the Corinthian church did not fall into Gossip. Based on the above 4 criteria: It was true, It was done for the benefit of those with a divisive mentality as well as those who were affected by it, there was transparency as to where the information came from and Paul was indeed able to solve the problem.

So often, when we discuss other people, their lives, or their circumstances, we might meet one of these four criteria but not meet all four. In the end, doing unto others as you would have them do unto you requires us to take extra precautions to avoid slipping into Gossip.

You can’t handle the truth!

While there are many classic lines from movies that make it into the American vocabulary and consciousness, the title of today’s blog comes from the movie A Few Good Men and I am sure most of you know that line delivered in typical Jack Nicholson brashness.  (I don’t recommend the movie due to it’s R rating, a televised version would clean up most of that language, however.)

Can we actually handle the truth depends on whether we want to handle the truth. It is, therefore, completely up to us to decide if we can handle it, or not! It is a decision of the will.

Truth can be used in many ways, but at the heart and foundation (no pun intended) of “truth” is a foundation that you can build on. Can you imagine what would happen if “truth” changed? Right now, some are saying that truth does change. No, truth does not change but circumstance can. As I write these blog, my wife is not with me. This is truth but the circumstance might change in 10 minutes. If she comes into the room, she is now with me. The circumstance has changed but the truth has not. Through all eternity, it shall always be true that she was not with me when I wrote that sentence.

Gravity is a truth. If you drop a hammer from a tree in Texas, it falls just as fast as if you drop it in India. There is a relationship between that hammer and the planet that causes it to fall. It never rises! It will fall on the moon too, although a bit slower. Gravity is a truth you cannot ignore.

Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue, if NASA tried to send a man to the moon only to find out that gravity stopped working at the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere? What if gravity quit working every other Tuesday, unless the sky was cloudy overhead? It would be circumstantial then, subject to change and not a truth.

Here are some good things to remember about Truth that are based on a book called I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist:

Truth is discoverable but it doesn’t matter if you haven’t yet discovered it.  (Jupiter’s moons were there before we saw them.)

Truth does not depend on culture. Math works just as well in the U.S.A as it does in China.

Truth does not change based on our beliefs. Many used to believe  you would lose your breath if you ever exceeded 60 miles an hour in a car. This was not true before we did it and suddenly, no longer true. It was always a mistaken belief.  If I believe a bottle to contain medicine but it contains deadly poison, I will not be able to avoid death simply by believing hard enough the opposite of the truth.

We expect truth from our doctors, parents, spouses, children, and politicians. (O.k. maybe we don’t expect it from our politicians. That might not be true. LOL) However, we want the truth about the house or car we go to buy. If an archeologist tells us that the skull we are about to buy is the skull of a famous Aztec king, we do not expect him to try and sell us a smaller sized skull and tell us it is the same Aztec King’s skull when he was a child!

So why is it that we do not ask for the same thing in our religion? Why are we willing to buy into the idea that what someone believes to be true can be true for them and not for us, and visa versa?

Here is a truth claim, from the Christian Scriptures: Speaking of Jesus, Peter says ” Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Act 4:12)

Now that may or may not be a true statement! Let’s look at that statement though and what it means.

IF IT IS TRUE, it states that there is only one way to Salvation. It states that Jesus is the only way. It is is exclusive of other names, roads, means of salvation. It says, that only by going through this name, may one be saved; if it is true.

IF IT IS NOT TRUE, then perhaps other names are valid means of obtaining salvation, if, that is, that there is a salvation. One might also say that if it not true, that Peter lied, which in most circles is not a good way to obtain salvation. So the door is open to other means of salvation, if salvation exists.

So, can you handle the truth? If Jesus is the only way to salvation, can you accept it? It is not good enough to say “I don’t believe it to be true.”, nor is it good enough for me to say “I believe it to be true.”  That statement cannot be both true and untrue, it cannot be true for you and not for me, it makes a claim to be true and it either is, or it is not!

 

What is truth?

In the Gospel of John, there is a discussion between Pilate and Jesus.

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”  (Joh 18:37-38 ESV)

Indeed, what is truth? There are some people who don’t think there is truth about anything. Some think that truth is relative. Truth however, is real and objective. It is  something so precious that it cannot be simply overlooked.

Of course the statement that “Truth is relative” is not true. It is stated as a truth and yet if all truth is relative then how could that statement be true. I may say that I hate coffee and that is truth. It is not true only for me but it is true for others. Steven hates coffee is true to other people also. Where one can say I have a preference and my opinion of coffee is not the opinion of others, this does not change the truth: I hate coffee.

Jesus said that those who are of the truth listen to Him. There is much in the Bible to indicate that God speaks the truth and that His words are what we need to listen to.  These scriptures say that those who refuse to listen to him are those who suppress the truth or have not received a love for the truth.

Truth: There is a God. But some deny this.

Truth: The Bible is God’s word. But some deny this.

Truth: Jesus is the son of God, God in the flesh. But some deny this.

In one post, you cannot possibly explore all of these truths to validate them or disprove them but I hope to tackle them over the next few weeks. A few at a time, a bit at a time. However, one illustration may help show how useless it is to dispute something when it is true.

In my last post, the original post (before I corrected it) referred to a fellow preacher and blogger by the name of Eric. I referenced his blog, I thanked him for his comment, and I used his comment in my blog. The only problem is that Eric’s name is not Eric. It is Eugene. While it is certainly true that in the overall scheme of things, a mistake in calling someone by a different name is minor, it still needs to be corrected.

Now I could have told him that his name is not Eugene. But that would not have changed the truth, as his birth certificate, friends, parents, and drivers license would show.

I could have asked him to change his name so that I was indeed correct. Yet, I am sure you can still see that even if he had changed his name to Eric, that would only mean that it had not been when I mistakenly called him Eric.

I could fight it or…I could acknowledge the truth. Why so many people would rather say “Hey, you look more like an Eric to me….” and lie against the truth is curious. It does not have long-lasting implications (although perhaps a friendship would suffer) in the matter of a simple name but when it comes to things like God’s existence, or Jesus’ deity…why stand and beat your head against what is true?

Even worse are those who don’t even care to take the time to investigate. They can’t be bothered with the facts, their mind is made up.

As a means of full disclosure, I will be following a couple of works by others and adding what seems to me to be common sense. The book called “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” and a study book called “Indestructible foundations” (Peter J. Wilson) are going to help guide me in some of the order things are presented.

Stick around, Lord willing some of these posts will give us good reason to believe what we, as Christians, believe.

Question: Do you have questions, critiques, opposing viewpoints? Comments are welcome. Discussion encouraged. Respectful dialogue is required.

photo credit from Google images

Don’t boast against the truth

 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.  (Jas 3:14)

It may not be that a person has wisdom at all. It may be that instead of wanting to be a wise teacher, he really is a bitter, envious, self-seeking individual. James’ advice is that this person face the truth as opposed to trying to deny it.

Looking back on chapter one, James talks about the person who looks intently into the perfect law of liberty. That person looks into it, sees hows he is and by continuing in that law, he will improve more and more. James also talks about the person who says he is religious and yet, he deceives himself. Don’t be that guy. His religion is useless.

There are many sources of envy and while I might be a little hard pressed to explain the difference between envy and envy which can be considered ‘bitter”, I am pretty sure that I do not want either of them to be among my possessions. Envy is a word that is very close to covet or jealous and none of these emotions are good things. I think of envy as something you feel when you do not possess something which someone else has. That something, be it a possession, a position, or a prize is something which you also wish (lust)  to have and because someone else has it, you resent or despise the person for what they have.

James ties in “self-seeking” with this because truly what we are talking about is an attitude of “me first’ and not just first, but second and last also. If you look at the beginning verse in this chapter, perhaps one of the reasons that James does not want many to become teachers is because so many times, it goes to our heads. There is always another teacher who is better, there is always another one who receives this or that honor, there is always another blogger with more subscribers (Hey now!) and so it goes.

Jesus warned against having honor among men, actually he warned against doing things so that you would have honor among men. James seems to be warning about the same thing. If you have these things, then admit that you do. Don’t sit there and lie against the truth.

As a person looks intently into the law of liberty, as they work on being a doer and not a forgetful hearer, as they see those things that they need to correct, they need to admit that it is so. Only by admitting the problem can you begin to correct the problem.  Peter had that problem. He didn’t know his own weakness and when Jesus (the Word) told him plainly, he boasted all the more “I will not deny you” yet, in the end, he did.

I have often wondered, who do the teachers confess to? You never see a preacher respond to his own invitation to come forward and confess sins. No, that would be bad, people would lose confidence in him and that can’t be allowed to happen. It may not be that you see it but a teacher does need to have his own person(s) with whom he can be honest. Otherwise, he may get caught up with sins that he will not admit.

When that happens, he stumbles as we all do and yet it is worse for the teacher than the one who is not a teacher.

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