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21 July 2008

Dirt in an Otherwise Clear Pool

On Saturday I picked up a Nerf ball from a dirty area of the yard. As a result, my hands got some wet dirt (that'd be mud) on them, and I brushed my hands together to knock the loose stuff off.

On my way back to the nearly-complete deck (about which I'll post an update at some point), I looked at my hands and saw that they still had some dirt and grass particles on them. Not much, but enough that I didn't want to wipe my hands on my pants. I was walking past the (above-ground) swimming pool and thought briefly about dipping my hands in the pool to rinse off the mud. I thought, "It's only a little bit of debris. With the volume of water in the pool it'll barely be noticed."

Then I decided against it -- we make deliberate efforts to keep the pool as clean as it can be, and that would have introduced more matter into the pool for the pump and filter to ostensibly clean up. If the pool had been dirtier, I probably wouldn't have felt so bad about rinsing my hands in it (if it had been too filthy I'd probably have not even considered it, though).

It struck me that Christ-followers seem to think of gossip or slander in the way I briefly thought of cleaning my hands in the pool.

"It probably won't hurt to tell this person about what I heard. After all, they're a fellow Christian and they'll understand and won't spread it around. Better to tell a Christian than a non-Christian." Just a tiny bit of dirt in a large pool that's otherwise cleansed of impurities.

I think that when it suits our purposes, we must think of other Christ-followers as super-humans. Do we really think that a little bit of gossip is okay? Do we think that spreading the "joy" of our otherwise-unknown tale or opinion is harmless? If we're tempted to spread something around, won't they be tempted, as well?

I did not write the following, in which the word "gossip" appears right in the middle of a number of actions attributed to "haters of God." While it's just one behavior in this long list and you may not participate in the other things, it's obvious that gossip is not an acceptable action for the Christ-follower.

"But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness... Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too." (Romans 1:18, 28-32, NLT)

Remember, I did not write that. Also understand that I'm not calling you a "God-hater" if you happen to have participated in gossip. I use that Scripture to encourage you to purge a particular behavior from your repertoire of behaviors.

When in doubt as to whether or not your piece of information is gossip, it's best to err on the side of caution. Sometimes the choice is difficult -- really difficult. Continually ask God for discernment and wisdom, with faith; never doubting (James 1:5-8).

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:31-32, NLT)


Dean Lusk said...

I should probably note that it's not our pool that's pictured in the photo.

Jan said...

i wonder what a good definition of gossip would be - do you have to speak, can you blog? Does it have to be about someone you do not know? etc etc I think sometimes we are okay with talking about someone if there is some distance - such as we are writing in a blog or it's someone we don't know. (which makes our comments even more apt to be actually slanderous, or libelous and even completely untrue)

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