So, one of my Birthday gifts, some years ago, was the complete set of an “old-time” television show. Now BEFORE I tell you what the show is, you need to know that even as a small child I was watching RE-RUNS of this show and NOT the originals. It’s PERRY MASON, the show that sparked my interest in courtroom and crime dramas and mysteries (thus feeding my longtime obsession with LAW & ORDER…any of the franchises!).
Perry was always so calm and cool, his deductive and reasoning gifts were almost supernatural, his suits were “cool”, his hair was “cool”…his Secretary (Della) was “cool” and his detective (Paul) was very “cool”. The guilty fell apart under his gaze, Judges bowed to his wisdom, and even his longtime adversary “Hamilton Burger” (Ham Burger…really?) had to accept that Perry was a worthy opponent.
Back then, in the black and white mid-century, it seemed that raising one’s right hand and swearing on a Bible (“I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…”) was all that was needed (aside from Perry’s glare) to turn even the most practiced liar into a truth-telling paragon. If only that really and truly worked.
What if, every day before any one of us left the house, we placed our hands on the family Bible and said, “Today…I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”? We, as Believers & Followers, shouldn’t need to do that.
“Now above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. Your ‘yes’ must be ‘yes’, and your ‘no’ must be ‘no’, so that you won’t fall under judgment.” JAMES 5:12
Unfortunately even in (and sometimes, especially in) the Church the truth (outside of the scripture) gets used infrequently when members chat amongst themselves in and out of the sanctuary. The Church is a community of people, and as such people will talk about people…it almost can’t be helped. But in doing so, God has clear guidelines that sometimes get ignored.
GENEROSITY INSTEAD OF GOSSIP
JAMES, Chapter 3 has much to say about “taming the tongue”, including the difficulty of doing just that. However, as Christians and “People of the Word”, our “words” must be right, just and true…especially when thinking and talking about others who are not present.
If you have ever played the game, “Gossip, Gossip” you know how easily the “truth” of the original language can get mangled in simple translation and communication between just a few people. In PRAYER CHAINS alone, a person’s request for the healing of a “hang-nail” can end up being a brain tumor by the time the request is through. And what about information that one hears outside the Church about a church member? Should what one hears at the “Hair Salon” be taken as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Everyone likes a “juicy” story…but leave the passing on of that kind of information to the “world”…here, in the Kingdom of God, we don’t do that.
Be GENEROUS with your words, and kind.
Sometimes one has to be creative to counter bad gossip (which is usually only partially true, if true at all) with a positive statement…but our JOB as Believes & Followers of Jesus is that we BUILD ONE ANOTHER UP and not TEAR DOWN…whether we are speaking directly TO or ABOUT our brothers and sisters…fellow citizens of the Kingdom.
“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” EPHESIANS 5:19
“Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.” I CORINTHIANS 14:12
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” JOHN 13:34
“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” is not a scriptural quote, because it’s not enough. Jesus’ commands go beyond simply keeping silent, He WANTS you to speak up, speak to, and speak about people. But He demands that you speak in LOVE: building each other up, turning away anger with a kind word, opening doors and not simply being a “fence” against lies – but being a proactive force against untruth, with words of love.
EDITING OUR LANGUAGE, or “And Nothing But The Truth”
Sometimes it’s difficult to edit what comes out of our mouths before it comes out, it takes practice, but once we “elaborate” on the truth we have created a false moment. Once we take a bit of the truth (or hear it and pass it on) but “shade” and “color” it…we become no better than Satan himself (who doesn’t lie “outright” as much as he twists the truth for his convenience).
The “lost” in this world will not be “rescued” if the Church is lost as well.
Believers & Followers: when it comes to your fellow “family” tell the truth, the whole truth, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH.
When you hear a story that can’t be confirmed, SHUT IT DOWN AND DON’T PASS IT ON.
When you hear negative things said about someone you know in the church (true or not), counter with positive and SHUT IT DOWN, AND DON’T PASS IT ON.
Take EVERY opportunity to believe the best in people, assume their graciousness and goodness and not their bad sides (especially when airing your thoughts out loud to someone else). And, as always here at Central, if you have a question or an issue with someone; before you talk about it BEHIND their back, talk to their face or don’t talk at all. Let’s make sure that people around us know we who Believe & Follow will behave differently than the rest of the world.
I’m talking to myself here, as much as anyone else, since I have often been at the other end of misinformed talkers. But if you think this message is specifically directed at you…it may be.
For the sake of those outside of the Kingdom of God, and for the sake of the building up of His strong Kingdom…speak “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…so help us, God.”