One of the greatest joys as a pastor is to see the Holy Spirit working. That work is present in our midst. As we seek to be a congregation that is reaching out it is going to create some positive waves, but also some negative. So, be very wary of talk that has no relevance to the mission of Jesus Christ. In ministry, I have found it interesting in who and how Satan unwittingly uses otherwise good people to do his dirty work. Gossip is one of his favorite tools. The thing about gossip is that it is usually half-true. It may have elements of truth in it, but in all reality, it has no other purpose than to paint another person in a negative light. So, that is why it is so damaging.
It’s amazing how damaging it can be to a congregation and the work of Christ. This was something that Martin Luther saw in his day and has been going on since the Fall. That is why we often hear it spoken out against in Scripture and why it was a part of the Ten Commandments, it’s part of that little bit of bearing false witness. In Luther’s Small Catechism, we read in the further explanation of the Eighth Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” he writes of how we should put our neighbor’s words and actions “in the best possible light.”
Now, we all know what it’s like to hear that juicy story about someone else, and many may have at one time or another been a part of that juicy story. I am also fairly certain that most of us don’t enjoy being that juicy tale that is going around. It doesn’t feel good as people whisper around you, looking, and then quieting down when you enter a space.
Growing up, I was always told that if you can’t say something to someone directly, it is best not to say it at all and if you hear something that troubles you, it is best to go directly to that person. Often, you will find that it is not exactly as was told or you’ll receive more information that will help clarify things better. It is amazing how the things that we are taught as children can still be handy as we grow older and thinking that age brings us greater wisdom how often we forget and leave these lessons behind.
As followers of Christ, we are called to a greater calling and are given a greater voice to listen to than the gossip and the stories that flow through the grapevine. We are given an opportunity to listen to God and hear his calling for us in our lives. Forget the Twitter feed or the latest gab on Facebook, but hear the glorious message of our Lord. The promise that he has given us in an advocate.
The Holy Spirit’s guidance is never to attack or harm another, even if they are doing wrong against you. In fact, the opposite would be true as we see throughout the Gospels how Jesus responded to those who wished to harm him or others like the adulterous woman in John 8.
As we listen for the Holy Spirit, we find an abundance of glorious blessings laid out for us. Jesus promised him to us (John 14:15-31; Acts 1:4-8) and that he would guide us and strengthen us. The great thing in the promise is that we have been given him through our baptism and when we feel weak or in need of help all we have to do is pray and he is there.
Satan has and continues to work in whispers. Because only God is omnipotent and omniscient, Satan can not and does not know our thoughts, but he is very intuitive and very persuasive. Like he did with Eve in the garden, his words are similar to us all, “Did God say….?” He also loves to divide us in relationships, “Did you hear what so and so said?” It all seems so innocent, and when we find that we have hurt another, we seek to justify – ala “I was just telling what I had heard was true. I’m not the only one that shared it.” Sounds a lot like Adam and Eve’s excuse for eating of the forbidden fruit, “It was the woman!” “It was the serpent!” The outcome is still the same, a broken relationship.
In Christ, however, we are given an opportunity to mend those relationships (Matthew 18:15-20). When hurt we can seek to repair the damage, and when confronted we can seek forgiveness and repent. It is wonderful how that has been laid out for us. It requires no sacrifice beyond the one thing that we are called to let go of anyhow, the sacrifice of our pride. Jesus humbled himself and, though we are not necessarily called to be nailed to a cross, we are all called to bear the burden of the cross. We are called to bear this humiliation and are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40;Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-28). In that, we can find peace and know that we are following the Holy Spirit of our God. Let us be a light in Washington, Daviess County, Indiana, the United States, and the World.