Thursday, March 01, 2007

against slander/gossip

In our communal following of Jesus, there are few things that stop us from doing this more quickly than slander and gossip. These are sins of the tongue that James, the pastor (I take it) deals with rather thoroughly and forthrightly in his letter. One of the things God expressly hates is dissension being stirred up in the community. And even those who do it. If this wasn't a problem among God's people, then God's Word/Scripture would not address it.

Another problem I have is nonverbal unacceptance of others. This is done in mostly subtle as well as not so subtle ways. Not including someone in a conversation when there are more than two involved. Interrupting someone when they're talking. Or not saying anything when one is finished, as if what they have to say is not worth acknowledging, or talking about.

We must be careful not to go along with any of this when it happens. Otherwise we become participants in it.

If we have the heart of Jesus, and indeed that's what we're to have more and more by the Spirit, then in our following together, we will never leave another behind. This is not always easy. We must bear with each other's weaknesses. We must be committed to valuing others above ourselves. If we're to really follow Jesus communally.

Last but not least, we must reach out, in love, to those who are sinning in this way. We know we have done the same. Perfection here is not the issue. Though we should hate it when we do sin, and confess it to God, and others when need be. But as we seek to walk in the Spirit, we need to at least pray for such. And perhaps, in love, take them aside, and talk to them about what they're doing. So that there can be repentance, restoration and change. Not easy, but necessary, if we're to really follow our Lord together.

What would you like to add here?


Mark Goodyear said...

How do we reach out in love to people who are sinning? That's always the trick isn't it.

I love words as you know, so sins like gossip are particularly difficult for me. I just like to talk.

However, I've learned the best way to stem gossip in myself or in others is to defend people in conversation. When I notice that I'm tending to talk bad about someone, I resolve for the next few days to defend them vigorously. Assume they have the best intentions and motives--they usually do.

Ted Gossard said...

Mark, (wow, I just lost a comment, hitting these keys can be tricky- ouch!).

I am very much grieved when I hear Christians downing other Christians. I want to err on the side of being slow to correct them, and quick to pray about it. Too often in the past I have been the opposite.

And this is not to say we haven't all slipped into this, of course. I like your practice. Good thoughts, brother.

Ted Gossard said...

My grief probably stems in part because I have been a victim of this, from what I can tell. But this is a deep strike against Christ and his Body. And we need to see that, more and more, I think....

andre said...


Your advice is not just relevant in the verbal context but also in the written arena. Blogs can be a breeding ground for unprofitable discussions, slander, gossip and the like.

That's partially why I posted a couple of weeks back on blogging advice, with a section on the attitude of our hearts.

Kim said...

Ted, I just want you to know how much I appreciate your blog and the people who comment here. You have created a wonderfully thoughtful, engaged, spiritually minded, self-examining, creative, God-loving, Jesus Community. God Bless you and the blog and those who comment here. Peace, Kim

Ted Gossard said...

Andre, Good point. Yes. These blogs can really fail in that area. I've learned alot from a number of blogs, and enjoy running into new ones, with like-minded people, like yourself!

And I've learned alot from Scot McKnight over at Jesus Creed. The discussion over there is often quite large and can get pretty lively. But Scot keeps working at keeping the tone in really a "Jesus Creed" sound of loving God and neighbor. A tall order indeed over there, with all the bloggers that come on. But he does a great job of it!

I'll soon check back later on your post you refer to, as I have to go somewhere this evening.

Ted Gossard said...

Kim, You're really too generous. You have added alot to our conversation here! I'm just one very limited person, but we find so much more when others join in. And when they go to their blogs. You can't get the most out of blogging without reading other blogs.


Ted Gossard said...

I meant, and when WE go to other blogs... ha, I need to proofread better.

Mark Goodyear said...

Ted, you proofread just fine. Comments are informal. No worries.

I just want to second what Andre said about not gossipping on blogs. I read a lot of things on blogs about Ted Haggard that seemed dangerously close. (And I read a lot of very good things, too.)

And I share your history, Ted. The denomination I grew up in had a publication whose express goal was to find teachers and leaders "in error" and trying to destroy their credibility.

(Also, Jesus Creed is an excellent model. I need to head back there again soon.)

Ted Gossard said...

Mark, When I first started blogging, I found blogs that really downed Christians in the name of Christ. Or were negative in tone and spirit.

And "Jesus Creed" was a good template to compare others. Of course that's a great blog in every way, for what Scot does (in multiple ways), on it.

Yes. I really don't have much stomach for Christians leveling/ blasting other Christians. We can disagree on many issues, and still live in communion with each other.

We need to believe in this enough, and consider our relationship with each other as a high enough priority, that we all try to hang in there for each other, when we do disagree. Of course this is hard to do with those who cut us off.