“Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” James 3:5
A series of events begun long ago, permitted to thrive from before my arrival into this theatre of conflict and strife, has affected many lives and rendered outcomes in stark opposition to the positions those instigating purport.
“It’s crowded in worship today / As she slips in / trying to fade into the faces / the girls’ teasing laughter is carrying farther than they know / farther than they know…”
Sometimes the words that influence hearts are those heard, either intentionally conveyed from the speaker to the one spoken of, or those overheard by the latter when he or she is spoken of to others. These words have the power to build up or lay low, to edify or destroy. But sometimes it is not that simple. Not only can one be touched by the speaker, but also by the influence that the words spoken have on the hearer. The offense of an enemy rarely devastates a person; however, if the attacks alter a friend’s or elder’s opinion of that person, it can cut deeper than the finest-edged knife.
“Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: ‘Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.’” Luke 12:1-3
Gossiping and proclaiming things received in confidence will return to those of whom one speaks, and the trust once bestowed will quickly be removed. Unfortunately if it unseen by those propagating it, who can help? The Lord alone, He can save.
“A traveler is far away from home / he sheds his coat / and quietly sinks into the back row / the weight of their judgmental glances / tells him that his chances / are better out on the road…”
Confrontation and criticism are not to be shunned when held with good, biblical cause and delivered with love to the one in question. They are two missions of the body between members, designed to edify and sanctify one another. Nevertheless, if any one of those elements is missing, the act moves from identification of sin in one member to the presence of sin in the one holding it, because it contradicts Ephesians 4:29. Justifiable confrontation without love does not edify. Criticism without biblical cause, loving or not, is a matter of opinion and not authoritative truth. Finally, the lack of delivery directly to the subject of the criticism, without spreading the information to others, is gossip and tears down the body of Christ.
“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” Proverbs 11:13
“But if we are the body / Why aren’t His arms reaching? / Why aren’t His hands healing? / Why aren’t His words teaching? / And if we are the body / Why aren’t His feet going? / Why is His love not showing them there is a way? / There is a Way”
One of the quickest ways to extinguish one’s ministry is to gossip and demean that individual, particularly to those around him or her. The hurt deepens as those degrading the individual wear a facade of love and care in their interaction with him/her instead of bringing the matter to light. Then when they leave, their actions and words when apart bear them witness that the vocalized love was not true. If actions and words spoken in the absence of an individual testify against love, how can mere words spoken to the person be true?
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
Jesus did not say “if you speak lovingly to one another,” but if you “love” one another. Love is not a word spoken, though that may support the case for love. Love is an action and is proven by consistent action.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18
The unreferenced quoted words compose Casting Crowns’ song, “If We Are The Body”
Article (c) 2005 Veritas Road