Category Archives: gossip

Getting Past Fake News

How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? ̶̶  Proverbs 1:22

It is because of verses like Proverbs 1:22 that some have questioned my publishing name: a simple man of God. In truth, this title simply means cutting through the fluff to keep the truth of God clutter free in life and teaching.

That hits at a major problem in the world today. Many people keep things simplified without due diligence.

The result of this is what is now colloquially called “fake news.” But it is not a problem on one side of any debate. “Fake news” can be found practically everywhere: politics, business, and religion – even within churches.

Why is this?

Because people like having their voices heard, getting their 15 minutes of fame. They like being able to call others out for their faults, and being the first to do it.

Unfortunately, this often comes at the expense of the full truth. In the name of expediency and “justice”, people will – willingly and unwillingly – scorn knowledge and people on the wings of rumors and half-truths. Then others want to help by spreading this propaganda and “news” without reading (or often caring about) the details.

This results in misinformation, mistrust, forced apologies, and broken relationships. This results in further division and “they said” and “at least we’re not like them.”

A Major Result – Fake Faith

And what does this lead to?

This same attitude of simple expediency affects our understanding of the Bible and God.

Fake faith sneaks in. We all “know” what we believe, because we have seen the memes and Facebook posts of credible people. We have read the popular books and watched the latest faith-based films.

Now, we believe in the god created by society instead of as revealed in the Bible, and we believe things that feel good and “feel right” instead of what is right and good.

Now we have people who believe they are Christians because of A, B, and C, who can not give “a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15), other than to say “Because it has worked for me.” And it is okay to believe there are other ways to eternal life, if it even exists.

If Jesus truly is “the way, the truth, and the life” and “no one comes to the Father except” by Him (John 14:6), then the worst fake news out there is spread by christians who are not sure what they believe, but “know it is true.”

Therefore, we must pray for God’s truth to be revealed in and through us. Instead, may we “have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths” (1 Timothy 4:7), and read God’s Word for ourselves and with sound doctrine and with others of faith that we “may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).

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The Stinky House Connection

Proverbs 30:10

“Accuse not a servant unto his master, lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty.”

My Story

The following story is not a perfect example of Proverbs 30:10, but it is close. Let me tell it to you, after which I will try to make a connection.

A little more than a decade ago I was an insurance agent for a large, well-known life and health insurance company. My primary job was selling life insurance, which sometimes required I simply knock on doors in search of new clients.

One day, as I was canvassing a neighborhood, I came to a house and immediately smelled a very strong, nauseous odor, accompanied by the loud barking of dogs inside. The odor coming from inside the house was so bad it made me worry something was terribly wrong.

I left the house, continued to knock on doors close by, but inquired of neighbors if they had recently seen the homeowner coming or going. None had, which led one neighbor to tell me he’d ask another neighbor, a policeman, to go check things out. I did not stay, but went on my way, returning to my office a few hours later.

Upon arriving at my office in Nashville, Tennessee, I was immediately called into a meeting. My sales manager was very angry and began berating me for “sticking my nose where it didn’t belong.” Come to find out, the one living in the house that stunk was alive and well and very upset that the police had paid him a visit. The resident demanded that I be reprimanded for invading his privacy and causing him trouble.

After several minutes of being yelled at, I was told to go to my desk and stay out of other people’s business.

The Rescue

I went back to my cubicle feeling completely defeated. I had only tried to be a good citizen, but now I was about to lose my job! Just then I received a phone call…it was the father of the man living in the house…the father of the man who wanted me to be fired.

“Are you the one who visited the house on _______ Street?” asked the man on the phone. “Yessir,” I answered. “And did my son call your boss and get you in trouble?” he asked. “Yes, sir, he did,” I replied.

“Son, my boy has been nothing but trouble for me, and I have threatened to throw him out,” said the father. “He stays there rent-free, but he’s nearly destroyed my house, and I’m tired of those stinking dogs!” The man on the phone then told me not to worry about my job, or my manager, or about getting into trouble. “I’ll take care of it for you…you did the right thing…don’t worry,” he said.

The old man on the phone then told me, “Young man, I am a federal judge. Give me your boss’s phone number and I promise he will not give you any more problems. That’s my house, and I overrule my son.”

Ten minutes later I was called to my sales manager’s office once again. He was very nice to me, to say the least.

The Connection

Honestly, I don’t know what that powerful federal judge told my sales manager, but it was enough to make him act like a whipped pup. And I don’t know whatever happened to the son who lived in the house that smelled horrible, but my guess is he was made to move.

Were my actions appropriate? Was it right to report that house? I don’t really know.  All I do know is that when I was accused to my “master,” somebody besides me was found “guilty.”


The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Proverbs 26:24-26

“He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for [there are] seven abominations in his heart. [Whose] hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the [whole] congregation.” 

The Big Shots

Yesterday, David looked at verse 23 dealing with those who cover up their wickedness to look good. These verses come out of that.

He mentioned the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Today we tend to think about politicians or corporate bigwigs that put up a front to look good for their employees or their constituents. In truth, they are only out for their own gain.

The really bad ones are those who will stop at nothing, hurt anyone to get what they want or to be entertained.

The Church Enemy

The scariest ones are those in the Church.

Who are they? They are the church-goers who:

  • Gossip (sometimes through “prayer requests”)
  • Complain about everything at the church
  • Complain about everything in life
  • Live two separate lives: one at church and one everywhere else
  • Purposefully disobey the pastor or church teachings
  • Cause divisions (start fights, spread malicious rumors, etc.)
  • Give the minimum effort (and usually have excuses)
  • Never give any effort at church (and always have excuses, if they talk about it)
  • Those who justify every action they take (usually with “But you have to understand …”)
  • Who start debates with “I am a Christian, so …” and then attempt to defend non-Christian behaviors and actions.

I could go on for a very long time. They act like they love others, but they really hate.

The question is …

Did you see yourself in that list?

The scariest enemy is the one who acts like your friend. Read Galatians 5:19-21 for Paul’s list of who they are.

Heavenly Father, help us to remove all the falseness and pretense from our lives. Create in us a clean heart free of all malice, deceit, and wickedness. Help us to be followers of You and not the father of lies.


Fiery Strife

Proverbs 26:20-21.

 “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.”(KJV).

The Most Important Things: Love and Unity

In John 13:35, Jesus made it abundantly clear what one of the most important aspects of discipleship is love: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” In other words, walking in love is one of the surest signs that we are true Christians. A few chapters later in this same book of the Bible, John records for us the high priestly prayer of Jesus that He prayed right before going to the Cross:

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:20-21). Wow! That’s one of the most sobering thoughts in the entire Bible. Here Jesus essentially says, “If Christians could become one in love and unity towards one another, the whole world would be saved.” That tells me that love and unity are the most important things we can learn as believers!

The Most Dangerous Things: Strife and Gossip

If the two most important things for us to learn to do as followers of Jesus is to walk in love and unity, then guess what the enemy is going to try to get us to do? To keep us from walking in love and unity! We shouldn’t be surprised then when we find the enemy coming and sowing seeds of strife and gossip… even (nay, especially) in the church.

In today’s Proverb, Solomon says, “Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops. A quarrelsome person starts fights as easily as hot embers light charcoal or fire lights wood.” (NLT). In other words, people who gossip and stir up strife are firestarters. In the same way that a fire can destroy anything from a house to an entire forest, so too a little gossip and strife can destroy relationships and unity.

So how do we guard against stripe and gossip? Fire needs fuel to burn, and so too strife needs the fuel of gossip to keep raging. Therefore, if we want to stop strife, we need to stop gossip. If we want to see the church of Jesus Christ prevail in the world, then we must contend for love and unity. We must refuse to gossip or talk negatively about another believer, and we must also refuse to listen to gossip about another Christian. And remember this truth: If someone will gossip to you, then they will likely gossip about you as well.

T.H.I.N.K.

T.H.I.N.K. before you speak: Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind? If not, then remember the wisdom from Thumper’s mother from the Bambi movie: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Church – let’s let love, acceptance and forgiveness become our banner! As we do this, we will show the world that we are true disciples of Jesus Christ. Amen…

think


Foaming Angry

Proverbs 25:23

“The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.”

Which Is It?

This is one of those verses in the Bible that cause interpreters and writers of commentaries to scratch their heads. One puts it this way: “This little proverb is extraordinarily beset with problems.”* According to the scholars and biblical language experts, it is hard to determine what Solomon means, exactly.

You see, there are issues with the “north wind”: does the verb “driveth” really mean to “drive away” or to “bring?” The verb actually means to “bring forth, as with labor pains.” Either way makes the second part hard to interpret: does an angry look come because of a “backbiting tongue,” or does the indignant tongue make the “angry countenance” go away?

If the north wind drives a cold rain away, then the parallel is that an angry look should hush up a slandering tongue. However, if the north wind brings the rain, then a slandering, backbiting tongue causes angry looks. Which one is it?

My Interpretation

One day, a long time ago, I tried to help someone. With a humble, servant-like attitude I bent over backwards to accommodate this individual, even though I knew it was going to be difficult for me. Then, that very evening, I was informed of slander being spread about me – stories that I had done the complete opposite and actually refused to help the person in need.

The word in this verse translated “angry” means “to foam at the mouth, speaking of a camel…”** Dear reader, I am not super spiritual – I am still human – so when I heard of what was being said of me, well…let’s just say I’m glad the walls of my house are made of brick. You could say I was foaming-at-the-mouth angry.

However you choose to interpret Proverbs 25:23, backbiting and slander can cause serious problems. Talking about people behind their backs simultaneously drives away showers of blessing and brings in cold rains of sorrow.

Watch your tongue and the weather will be fine.

“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” – Psalms 34:13-14 ESV

Sources:

*Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 209.

**Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003), 250.


I’ll Make You Famous!

Proverbs 25:8-10.

“Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbour hath put thee to shame. Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; and discover not a secret to another: Lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine infamy turn not away.” (KJV).
“Don’t be in a hurry to go to court. You might go down before your neighbors in shameful defeat.  So discuss the matter with them privately. Don’t tell anyone else, or others may accuse you of gossip. Then you will never regain your good reputation.” (NLT). 

I’ll Make You Famous!

billy the kid

The fall after I graduated from high school (in 1990), I went to Calgary for two weeks to spend some time with my biological dad. Because he and my mom were divorced before I was five years old, his involvement in my life was minimal, and I never really knew him well. However, during this trip, I spent two weeks living with my dad, getting to know him for the first time.

One of the things I remember about my visit with my dad was that we saw the western movie Young Guns II together. The movie tells the story of the infamous Billy the Kid, and the movie ends with this main character, played by Emelio Estevez, saying, “I’ll make you famous!” However, there’s a big difference between being famous and infamous.

Dealing with Offenses:

In the days of cowboys and cattle drives in the Wild West (so Hollywood would have us believe) all disagreements were quickly dispatched with a six-gun. But the Bible gives us better ways to deal with our hurts and offenses!

In today’s Scripture, Solomon tells us to be careful about running to court to sue someone who hurts or offends you. Instead, he says we should go and talk to that person first and try to work it out with them. Jesus taught the same thing in Matt. 18:15: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.”

It’s unfortunate that nowadays, when someone does something wrong to somebody, they turn around and gossip, slander them, lie about them, or blog about them. God’s Word has a lot of strong warnings against those who would gossip! “A gossip goes around revealing secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence” (Proverbs 11:13). In today’s Proverb, Solomon says that if we start gossiping, our “infamy” will not turn away.

Do you want to be Infamous?

That word infamy means extremely bad reputation, public reproach, or strong condemnation as the result of a shameful, criminal, or outrageous act. If you are a gossip who stirs up strife, be careful, because you may never again regain your good reputation. Gossip says, “I’ll make you famous!” Or is that… infamous?


Victim Lawyers

Proverbs 24:28-29

28 Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause; and deceive not with thy lips.
29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.

Perhaps you remember my last entry from a few days ago, Pray for Your Enemies and the few since then. There is a common theme that is continued here, a theme dealing with envy and revenge and, ultimately, pride.

Perhaps you have heard of those so-called “victim lawyers” who look for ways to sue people and/or businesses for supposed infractions on freedoms or services received. Even though there is rarely solid cause for these lawsuits, there are enough times when the “victims” win their cases. This causes fear and confusion for many, causing pushed up prices, changes to things (often for the worse), or closing good businesses.

Some of these lawyers do it for fun, while others do it because they have been wronged before and wish to help others no matter the social cost.

The Great Accuser

There is one who does this against each and every person, but with much greater consequences and cost to the individuals.

Sadly, much of his accusations are true.

Thankfully, we have a better lawyer … if we are Christians. The Devil, the one full of pride and envy of the love we give God, accuses us of our sins straight to God, yet he does not have the ultimate victory over us who believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior from our sins.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.

11 They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.

12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.”
Revelation 12:10-12, NIV

Our Father, help us to live like the father of lies. Remove all envy and malice, hatred and pride from our hearts. Create in us hearts that do not want to bring shame to our neighbor and lead to our destruction, but hearts that are full of love and may help lead others to everlasting life, in Jesus name.