‘We are men of action, lies do not become us.’ -Westley, The Princess Bride
I watched gossip rip through a man’s life and roadblock ninety-nine percent of God’s compassion from traveling through the hearts of those who heard and believed. It started from the loose tongue of an unthinking man who was trying to validate his point and strengthen his side of an argument. He used the failure of his old friend and twisted it enough to help his cause, but still be believable.
Gossip always takes liberties with the truth. You can’t take pieces of the truth and fill the holes with your own common sense. God never set you loose with a tool belt of ‘pride fueled agenda’ and a ‘forked tongue’ to start hammering away at guess work. Taking liberties with the truth is lying. Lies have a father and it’s not your Father.
When [Satan] lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. –John 8:44 NIV
The man made a thoughtless comment to another man with a loose tongue and the corruption spread like wildfire across the country. There is no way to rope it in and make it right. There is no undoing the damage that has been done.
It would be easy for me to let self-righteous indignation get in the way of what God tells me to do:
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. -Ephesians 4:1
Just because a person did not do this, themselves, does not remove God’s instruction to me or to you. This is not an eye for and eye existence. Not since Jesus, anyway. This man has, since, confessed and asked for forgiveness.
I know what it’s like to do something self-serving and thoughtless. I’ve watched my mistakes rip through the fabric of lives I’ll never be able to face. My own mistakes have sent pain, like wildfire, that has spread across the country and I’ll never be able to, on my own, make it right. Self-righteous indignation, on my part, would be a complete disregard to the grace that Jesus poured into me. I can never repay my own debt, so I can’t expect others to repay theirs.
This is not, so much, a post about gossip as it is a post about the opportunity to pour out grace. It’s real. It’s powerful and it creates life.
That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country. –Romans 6:3-5
There is a sin nature within me that wants to level the playing field using sin as the weight on the scales.Tit for tat. However, according to this life I have entered, sin is not the sovereign ruler, grace is. If you use grace as the weight on the scales, then God wins. This is me, waving the flag of my home country. A country with open arms, not clenched fists. A country with tender hearts, not protective ones. A country where I do not need to win, because if I win, then one of God’s children loses and then we all lose.
Tit for tat only deepens the life of sin that we’ve been set free from.
Forgiveness is the ultimate middle finger to the very entity of evil. – ‘Grace Is For Sinners’
And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. -Matthew 5:42
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. –Colossians 3:12-14
This man may never know the full effect of his sin, but to the one’s it matters to the most, he is more than forgiven. That’s grace in real life. It’s the attitude that turns directly to God and says, ‘Thank you.’