Quite often in a class with the men when I taught at Teen Challenge, one of them would comment, “So and so said this, or So and so said that” in answering a problem concerning sin in a persons life. Their solutions had many diversions, and loopholes, excusing the behavior of the one who had fallen, and seeking a way to bring restoration in the persons situation without facing what God said about it in His word.
This is not new, it is as old as Adam and Eve in the garden.
These men were crafty, they knew how to manipulate, twist, and scam their way through life. But, it had also caught up with them. That’s why they were sitting in this classroom.
One humorous example happened one evening when we all got laughing and challenging each other about our personal shortcomings. I admitted I had trouble with impatience (everyone enjoyed this; because they knew me!)
Then a young man in the middle of the class spoke up and said, “How do you know when your gossiping? There’s a lot of times we get into talking about someone; but it’s because we want to help them, or we are concerned about them.” All eyes went to me waiting to hear what I was going to say.
My answer was:
“Before you opened your mouth to speak to someone about this person, did you pray for them first alone? And, did you go to them in person first, and try to talk to them face to face before you went to anyone else behind their back?” If you were so concerned about them, did you tell them you were, and why? This takes courage, and most people aren’t interested in this approach.
I went on further. Do you enjoy destroying other peoples character? Is it a sport to you? Do you get a high on making sure you’ve done dirt to the one you want to destroy; whether it is the truth or not? People of this nature find no problem with adding and taking away the facts, to fit the scenario they want to paint, to make sure they end up on top. These people will gather together to destroy the one who may have stood up to them or disagreed with them, and now, when he is not there to be able to speak up for himself, the mob is like hungry hyena’s who enjoy tearing him to pieces with their tongues; verbal murder.
His head went down on his hands “Ouch!”
Nothing more needed to be said, everyone in the room knew what gossip was now. There were many faces looking at the floor.
In Matthew ch. 18, the Lord gives us clear guidance on what to do in this case.
Mat 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
Mat 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
Mat 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
If people are twisting the truth and lying about the situation this guideline will mean nothing to them. But for those of us who follow the Lord, he shows us what our responsibility is, and where it ends.
The Lord has drawn a “straight line.” We find it in His Word. It is a line that begins at our feet, goes to the Cross and ends with Him in heaven. But that line is often difficult to follow. It was even for David.
“I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity,” he wrote. Acknowledging this “sin” must have been difficult for him to confess because he said, “Day and night Your hand was heavy upon me.” He could find no relief from his sin and God would not give him any relief.
When we sin and do not repent, and ask God for His forgiveness, we can expect - and be thankful for - His “heavy hand on” us.
We are fortunate to know that this is God speaking to us, trying to get our attention because He wants us to “confess our sins” so He can remove our guilt, restore His peace and renew our relationship with Him, and the one we‘ve sinned against.