Friday, 05 June 2009
“Couldn’t lead his way out of a paper bag with a map, a compass, and a prophet.”
The sister-in-law that:
“Runs her mouth entirely too much, cleans her house entirely too little, and blows all of my money.”
And the friend:
“I can't wait for you to meet because you’ll see exactly what I’ve been talking about, and why I think I’m going to have to cut him off.”
And you sit there doing one of three things:Throwing in a few supportive, “wow, no way, that’s horrible, you should say something, I would never put up with that.”
Fully engaging and even suggesting ways to respond to an offense, address and offender, or simply kick the person to the proverbial curb for an unpardonable.
Listening sympathetically, praying silently, and only saying those things you feel God is leading you to say, which usually involves directives to forgive, forget, and restore.
If your approach looks more like number one or two, chances are you’re loyal to a fault. And in our desire to comfort and counsel, oftentimes we’re displeasing God by putting our noses in matters and our tongues on people that have nothing to do with us.
Many Christians get caught up in office gossip, family feuds, and friend-on-friend combats out of misguided loyalty. We say it’s not gossip because “we’re offering counsel,” “It’s not sinful because our intentions are good,” and “it’s not harmful because our comments and discussions are limited to the individual that brought the matter to us.”
Yet, we’re not only guilty of judging situations with bias information and commenting on people we know little to nothing about, but more importantly, compromising our Christian testimonies.
How many times has someone gone back and said that you were totally in agreement with them when that wasn’t quite how you put it, or accused you of telling them to do something that resulted in another party being hurt, or added you to the list of “people” who listened and weighed in on a matter that resulted in the death of a relationship.
How many times has an onlooker watched you and wondered, “Why is she even getting involved, I thought she was a Christian” or heard you were in agreement with someone, who in actuality was the offender but conveniently left out some key details when recounting his version to you? How often have your words been twisted and spun into something ugly and judgmental, and no matter how you try to clean it up the fact remains that you did say something akin to what was reported? And how many times have you gotten caught up and erroneously gave emotional advice simply because you were outraged and seared by the pain your loved one endured, but in hindsight, you wish you never said a word because your rash counsel caused more damage than good?
The fact is we owe no man anything but Christ. And I have found that it is best for Christians to be slow to speak and quick to listen. Loose lips have gotten many of us in heaps of trouble over trivial matters on a job, in our families, and amongst friends.
When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise. (Proverbs 10:19 NASB)
Therefore, let your “wisdom” be found in your silence. And in the words of a man of God I greatly respect, always remember, when you don’t know quite what to say:
“Silence cannot be misquoted!”