Practical Application of the Word of God
“You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people;…”
“A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.”
“He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.”
“A perverse man sows strife, And a whisperer separates the best of friends.”
“ The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
Before the internet, email, and social media, talebearing, gossip, criticism, and condemnation among people of the faith existed, but it had a more limited audience and took much more time to accomplish since the only methods available were face-to-face, telephone, and letter-writing.
One of the inherent advantages to this was time. Time to process. Time to think. And, hopefully, often time to decide not to do these things.
The other inherent advantage to this was the effort involved in accomplishing it. If you find hand-writing letters and cards extremely difficult like I do, you know the effort simply wouldn’t have been worth it, no matter how strong the desire might have been.
However, the 21st Century – and the Technological Revolution – has made the talebearing, gossip, criticism and condemnation process instantaneous and effortless. As a result, we see it everywhere, every day, by members in the faith and without.
As a Christian, I expect this on a regular basis from those outside the faith. They don’t know any better yet, so it makes perfect sense that they would utilize technology to spew their venom out for the whole world to see.
However, when I routinely see this kind of behavior on social media among those who claim to believe and obey God – and His word – and to follow Jesus Christ, I am both surprised and sad.
I am surprised because if we are truly striving to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God – and that word, the Bible, should be near us all the time – then we will not routinely (we all slip from time to time) display this kind of behavior.
I am sad for several reasons.
The first is an empathetic reason for the person about whom the talebearing, the gossip, the criticism, or the condemnation is being done. The maligned person, no doubt, confided in the maligner as a friend, as a confidante, as a trustworthy person, and shared the deepest parts of themselves with that person.
What can compound the hurt exponentially is that a lot of times the maligned person isn’t the one who reaches out, often bearing the burden with God alone, but instead the maligner, who then turns around and attacks.
The parts that person shared may include life circumstances that are long and intense trials and problems that seem to mount and increase by the day, wearing the person down and out physically, emotionally, mentally, and, sometimes, even spiritually. There may be debilitating, chronic physical pain. There may be intense sadness and grief from loss. There may be severe, time-intensive, attention-intensive family situations, problems, or issues. There may be long-term and extreme economic hardship.
Any one or a combination of or all of these at once can have devastating effects on a person. But until we have literally walked in their shoes – and none of us can actually do this, which makes our tendencies toward talebearing, gossip, criticism, and condemnation even more reprehensible – we really aren’t in a position to criticize or make judgments about how someone is responding to, handling, or going through something we can’t possibly fully know about or understand.
And what’s even more brutal? The lynch mob mentality of the “likers” and “commenters” who jump right into the fray of agreeing with the maligner and slamming the maligned (whom they don’t even know).
We who claim to be Christians should be ashamed of ourselves for allowing this kind of behavior to be who and what we are and for actively participating in it with others.
And, yet, it seems we don’t even see it. The herd mentality of ganging up on someone who is defenseless (remember, the commentary we see is just one side of the story), unknown, and unfairly attacked is stronger than the word of God in our lives.
And that’s the second reason for my sadness. Either we are not drinking and eating liberally out of the word of God daily, ensuring that our spiritual diet is nutritious and filling, or we are just casually reading it, but it’s just words on a page that we tick off a checklist as having done, but they don’t change who we are, how we are, what we think, what we do, what we say, our attitudes, and our motives at all.
A healthy, strong, close, and intimate relationship with God through prayer and Bible study on a daily basis should be changing us from the inside out.
If we routinely engage in talebearing, gossip, criticism, and condemnation of others, whether directly or indirectly, then we are conforming to the world, instead of being transformed by the renewing of our mind.
Renewal of the mind must involve God’s spirit, but we have an active, participatory role in that renewal as well. It literally means to think differently from the world, in the context of Romans 12:2. That means attentiveness to how we naturally – with carnal nature – think and measuring that against God’s word, how God thinks, and how Jesus Christ thinks.
This requires 24/7 work, spiritual consciousness, and a sensitive conscience that yearns to be like our Dad and Older Brother in every way.
Sadly, this doesn’t appear to be on the radar for a lot of us who claim to be Christians. There’s a disconnect between what we say and what we actually do.
However, we can change this behavior, if we’re doing it, starting now. It’s never late to start doing the right thing. We may not even be aware that we’ve been doing the wrong thing (which doesn’t make it any less wrong).
My hope with this post is to bring awareness to this behavior and prayerfully hope that we have the desire, the courage, and the commitment to not be a part of something that hurts, destroys, and damages our brothers and sisters, not just in the faith, but in humanity.
I urge us to remember that we – you and me – may be the only contact some people in our lives ever have with God’s word, God, and Jesus Christ. We are their representatives in the flesh.
Do we, by our examples, cause them to be denigrated? Do we, by our examples, cause their names to be profaned? Do we, by our examples, bring shame and dishonor to their – and our – family name?
People will listen to and take to heart the sermons we preach with our lives – our words, our actions, our behaviors – more than they will ever listen to and take to heart the words preached from a pulpit.
Let’s make sure our sermons are always good ones and righteous ones.