Saturday, November 15, 2008

Daily Digest #175

A man who bears false witness against his neighbor is like a club, a sword, and a sharp arrow. —Proverbs 25:18

Lord, forgive us for speaking carelessly
about others to make ourselves look better.
Help us to think before we speak. Teach us
to be loving with our words. Amen.

You can never justify gossip.

Bato-bato sa langit, ang tamaan wag magalit! :D Haha, we can be very much into gossips. Not a day passes without us gossiping about something, aminin :-p And we usually don't take it seriously, or as a sin, as we are very much used to it. We delight in "chismis" such as "who got that girl pregnant" or "that man left his wife because", etc etc. I, personally, find entertainment in the latest celebrity gossips, may it be local or hollywood -- who's paired up with whom, who's the latest catch (of the police hehe), who's been given funny and rude comments, etc. Gossip has become part of our daily lives.

We may claim that we're just "concerned" about the person that's why we talk about him/her, like when put in a prayer where others can hear. No matter how much we justify our gossips, they only make matters worse. Honestly, if we're so concerned about someone, we would think of the next feasible step instead -- like to lend an ear or a helping hand. For me, silent prayer is the most immediate act anyone can make. Not only would be able to divert gossip into something good, but it would also help us practice humility.

For this, let us pray. May we grow a humble heart. May we learn to tame our tongues, and be reminded that we, too, are imperfect. May we learn to see Jesus Christ in each other's faces. Pray always.

++++++++++++ ++++

July 20, 2006

Jesus was very clear on judging another person. He said not to do it. (Matthew 7:1) But what about holding one another accountable to the truth? Don't we bear some responsibility for each other? And if we are to do this for someone, doesn't that involve judging them at some point?

Accountability is an important part of any relationship, especially one with a shared purpose in following Christ. We need each other in order to stay on the right track. The lures and temptations of this life are too great to handle alone. Paul writes, "If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore that person gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." (Galatians 6:1)

What's the difference between judging and confronting? Confronting involves doing something. Judging is all in your head. Confronting has an element of humility involved, because you know your own susceptibility to the same temptations. Judging always makes you better than someone in your own mind. And confronting always means direct contact. Judging is an evil little secret you keep to yourself or share with others in the form of gossip.

Years ago, a friend of mine was struggling over doing the right thing in an important decision he had to make. Another friend and I got the idea to go surprise him and help provide support for his decision. It didn't matter that it was a 10- hour drive to get to him (that was the surprise part) we wanted to show up as an act of loving confrontation to help him face the truth.

Now had we not made that trip, and had I used his moral failure as a means of making me seem better in my own eyes, and had I talked to others in ways that might demean him (even asking others to pray - – a favorite evangelical form of acceptable gossip) that would have been judging him. But instead we told no one, but went directly to him with our concern for him and the result was a big boost for all three of us.

I can't even tell you now what the issue was, or what he did about it -- – it's been too long now -- – but what I do remember is how blown away he was that we would care enough to go see him in person. And I know I still have a friend today.

If you ever catch yourself putting down someone in your mind, stop and realize you are judging that person, and then consider if you might be the one to go confront him or her in love. Put your information into action, or put it away and leave it with God. To harbor something in your heart about someone and not confront that person is to be a private judge, and the only one that really hurts is you.

January 12, 2006

Jim Van Tassel died last week. He was 96. This is sad news to a number of people who are or have been in jail in Orange County, California. Jim has been a chaplain there for thirty years. A former prisoner told me, "He showed me the compassion of Christ for the first time in my life… He never was particularly interested in hearing about my crime or how it happened; he just wanted me to know I could be forgiven and have a whole new life -- both of which seemed impossible at that time."

I think we all could benefit from Mr. Van Tassel's perspective. We often are more interested in the crime than the forgiveness. Gossip grows from this. Gossip is all about the crime and an opportunity to tell it to lots of people. Gossip is sometimes even disguised as a prayer request, as in: "Would you please pray for so and so, he really needs it. Why just yesterday I heard…" You can see where this is going.

Or how about the testimony that focuses more attention on the crime than the forgiveness? Some people have made a decent living off their testimony and the opportunities they have to tell it. I can remember being somewhat embarrassed by my testimony because it wasn't a juicy enough story. Of course I since have realized my crime was just as heinous as the worst criminal's, it was just in the form of private sins I didn't want anyone knowing about. This is another danger in focusing on the crime; it encourages all kinds of unwanted comparisons. Not to mention those who feel their sins are so bad they are beyond forgiveness.

When the real point to emphasize is that we have all have been forgiven. We are equally guilty and our stories are all remarkable.

Even as I write this, I catch myself realizing I could justify mentioning the crime of the woman who told me about Jim Van Tassel. It would make an impact. It was enough to get her nine years. But, you know, it doesn't matter. What matters is that she is forgiven, and she has a new life in Christ. That's how we want to think of her anyway.

And that's the case for everyone who has life in Christ. The forgiveness and the new life are the big issues. It's not about who we were or what we did; it's about who we are now and what we are doing as a result.

Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; the new life has begun!--2 Corinthians 5:17

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