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I wrote yesterday about a friend’s bad experience with a visiting evangelist at an American church. She highlighted two key areas that really bothered her about that evangelist. I am sharing it here because it reminds me of similar occurrences here. I think there is something we can learn and I want to address those two issues. First being the evangelist’s one sided preaching and secondly, the judgmental and insensitive way with which he preached his message. I reproduce my response to my friend here, with a little editing to fit the local context.

Dear _____,
I hear you. As I was reading your response I thought of criticisms my own pastor had received for preaching the grace of God. I know it might come across as defending the other side but it is not the case at all and I hope you understand my heart. I have been on both sides in my own experience, so I feel I can offer some insight from both perspective. You see, when outsiders criticize my pastor’s preaching, although it is distressing to hear, I can understand where they are coming from and frankly, I don’t blame some of them for misunderstanding my pastor’s heart and intent. After all, they do not know my pastor like I do. I have heard him every Sunday for 12 years. Although I do not know him personally, I know much of his background, his stories, his struggles, his family and hear from people who know him personally and been on vacations, leadership retreats and teh tarik sessions with him share about their experience together. All these help me know him better and have a more complete picture of the content and intent of my pastor’s message than someone who has only heard him once while checking out the church or a few sessions during an overseas conference, for example. The reason why I highlighted this is because in order to understand the message of a person, we need to know his heart. Just like how God’s word is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us it is the power of God unto salvation. We can’t hope to understand the Bible without first knowing God. We also need to interpret it in the right context. So my point is, that evangelist may appear to not have preached the whole counsel of God because you have only heard him on one or two occasions. He may have preached about the resurrection, the Holy Spirit and other important aspects of Christian living and doctrine over the years to his own congregation where he is based but for that particular occasion, as he is a visiting evangelist, he felt led to focus on a particular area. One point of caution though, beware of ministers or ministries that do not have a home church. This is not to say that they are immediately suspicious. Just that usually little is known about the minister and there may be a lack of accountability since they do not have a regular congregation.

I personally believe God gives different gifts to different teachers. My pastor is good with preaching radical grace, Seth is good with discipleship and getting us out of our comfort zone. Likewise, other preachers are good with some other aspect of God’s complete counsel, etc etc. Together, we make one powerful body. If only we would stop tearing each other up and start recognizing our various gifting. We need not the baby out together with the bath water. There is always something we can learn even from people we don’t agree with most of the time. It is not unlikely that God may have called some to expose heresy in the church. It is a calling that will draw persecutions for sure. It is never easy to tell people they are wrong. Nobody likes that. But imagine if there really is heresy in the church and nobody exposes it, what will happen then? On whether someone is a self-proclaimed heresy hunter with the express intent to divide, damage, confuse and tear down the church or if indeed he is following God’s call to confront the brethren out of love and for the good of the kingdom, we can follow the Bible’s counsel to look for the fruits of the spirit in that person’s life. It says in Matthew 7:16, ” you will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?”is there evidence of fruits? This leads us back to the first point above on knowing the person. Since your friend feels very positively about that evangelist and his message, why not have a talk with her and ask her what is it about the man or the message that grabs her spirit.

Among all that you’ve shared about your experience, what made me uncomfortable was not that he was putting too much focus on Jesus and the cross but that he was quick to call those who do not give the same emphasis, ignorant and unsaved, and his mocking of other ministries. I do not feel that was in line with the spirit of God. But then again, if I were to give him the benefit of doubt, he could be doing the right thing the wrong way.

Sorry, no clear answers here from me as I have not heard the man myself. Hope my sharing above helped at little.

Have a blessed weekend everyone!

rk

An American friend of mine and her husband had a distressing experience listening to a visiting evangelist at her friend’s church recently. What she heard really bothered her. She shared her experience with us and wondered how best to approach a situation like this. At that time, we were just coming to the end of our group study of the book of Acts and on the last chapter, we read about people who are “ever hearing but not understanding, ever seeing but not perceiving”. These were my thoughts for our study

“i think sometimes we choose to hear only what we want to hear and see what we want to see because knowing the truth would require some kind of action or change from us and we’d rather not. but it says here that this is a sign of a calloused heart. if we allow this to happen over a period of time, our heart will be so hardened and any change or turning back will be even more challenging. i interpret the phrase “understand with their heart” as “revelation”. knowledge and revelation are different. knowledge without revelation is powerless. revelation without knowledge can result in foolishness. but together, they make wisdom. i believe that is how god wants us to operate – out of wisdom. i think when we feel like we’re going round in circles, feeling stuck, maybe it’s time to ask god for a fresh revelation on that situation and then act on it.”

No believer wants to be in such a position, although many do fall into it, whether knowingly or not.

I’ve had similar experiences with hearing (or in my case, reading) things that threaten to tear down what I’ve been taught for years. It can be difficult and very confusing. After praying about my friend’s experience and asking God for wisdom, I still do not know how best to respond but gave her some principles which have helped me in my own experience.I find these principles essential to learning and especially so when faced with conflicting views and ideas.

(Not in any order of importance)

  • acknowledge that my knowledge is neither perfect nor complete, therefore I could be in error about certain things. likewise for any other man of god, no matter how great they are.
  • give the other person the benefit of doubt. try to look beyond my own prejudice, assumptions, even the way the argument was delivered and listen with an open mind.
  • try to be as unbias as possible. consider the facts without dismissing the role faith plays
  • be humble and ready to admit you were wrong
  • hear with the intent to understand and not to poke holes. try to see the subject from another perspective.
  • adopt a teachable spirit.
  • agree to disagree.
  • recognize what are foundational truths and what are not. essential doctrines are worth defending and should not be compromised. but do not fall into the trap of majoring on the minor.
  • judge the idea, not the person.
  • check against God’s word and God’s character.
  • seek the counsel of other mature believers, pastor or mentor.
  • watch for signs of dis-ease or heaviness in the spirit. there should be a sense of liberation, joy and peace in the spirit. this is a little tricky because emotions may not always be reliable and emotions are often confused with the spirit’s leading.
  • if you can’t reach a conclusion about an issue, be ready to let it go without passing judgement. but don’t write it off. keep it somewhere in the corner of your mind. if you have prayed and ask god about it, he will bring it to light eventually. i have personally experienced this many times – god answering my questions months and even years later.
  • pray and ask God.

Hope these help.

rk

This is a continuation from Part 1.

  • This is me recovering, following up on my previous comment.

April 30, 2010

“i am the person who wrote that depressing comment above. i just want to let you know i’ve recovered and i want to share this with everyone who has lost faith in the things of God. i had unknowingly allowed myself to become food for the devil. in recent years there has been a lot of outside criticism about my pastor and questioning of his gift of teaching. i was also very affected by a lot of believers attacking one another on the web (it is so depressing) and bad press in the local papers about certain churches and church figures here. it really stole my joy, confidence and hope in the things of God. 2 nights ago i heard one of the best sermons ever. God truly knows my heart and sent a word in season for me. i came out of the service feeling spotless, reborn and full of life and hope! i realize now that the body of Christ has been under attack and we must use our gift of exhortation to lift our brethren up. grace and peace to all of you, the united body of Christ!”

  • This is me back in my element, writing in an email to my disciplers.

May 6, 2010

“….I noticed that as I start on this journey of seeking God and his leading, my original dilemma of not knowing my place in the world and in his kingdom just doesn’t seem so critical anymore. I have this feeling that hey, maybe this is what God wants from me right now, for this season, to just spend time seeking him and be immersed in him. It feels good, it feels right. In fact, dare I suggest that perhaps this is what our life’s purpose is – to seek Him and have communion with him. Plain and simple. Everything else… about knowing my calling and my dream etc, are but fruits of this main pursuit. They will ripen when the time comes. Just stay connected to Vine! I know you’ve probably heard it many times over (so have I) but I just can’t help getting excited all over again. I think it died off somewhere but now I am feeling that life again. Feeling like I am “back in my element” again, and with Kathy’s encouragement, I have started noticing people in a more personal way and ministering to them, just like old days. So I want to thank all of  you for helping push me out of my “wallowing in the dust and self doubt” experience. May God send you his richest blessings, may his favor surrounds you and your ministry and may the light that you carry touch ever life that comes your way like it did mine.”

Lessons learnt

  • Pray for your pastor and your church. When the enemy strikes the shepherd, he is not just targeting him, he is going after you and the rest of the flock.
  • When you tear down another believer, you are making yourself the devil’s advocate. You are helping him accomplish his goal faster.
  • Do not surround yourself with trash. Read enough to stay informed but do not feed yourself with trashy news, mindless gossips and camp around cynicism and negativity. If you do, you’ll feel dusty pretty soon.
  • What to do when you find yourself dusty,
    1st – stay away from trash
    2nd – plunge yourself into God’s word. feed your spirit man with whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy.
    3rd – keep company with people who edifies you.
  • Seek God. Stay connected to the Vine. Your path will become clearer in due time.
  • Step out in faith.
  • Recommended resource: The Key to Holiness It teaches you how to stay dust free.

rk

I am on Day 3 of a listening prayer exercise. Through Seth and Patti, I got connected with Kathy who is disciplining me on this journey. There is a workbook that we use (a gift from Seth) and Kathy helps me process my thoughts, encourages me and act as a sounding board to what I am hearing. We communicate through email and meet online once a week. I felt impressed to share some thoughts I have about Day 3 – on being in a personal relationship with Jesus.

Day 3 – I can recall times when I felt my conversation with God was most personal. Those were times when I could speak to God freely, on anything and everything, from the heart and without reservations. Still, I could do better by learning to wait for God to speak. That would be closer to a 2-way dialogue, a give-and-take kind of relationship. At the end of Day 3, there is a part about God being transcendent. I think this is the part that makes a 2-way relationship difficult and one of the key reasons why a personal relationship with Jesus can get tricky. Like what the book says, silence in a conversation usually feels awkward and oftentimes that is the main thing we hear. I once read a book by Philip Yancey – Reaching for An Invisible God, and  can truly appreciate a life lived out in faith, trying to connect with a being who is beyond time and space. It is no wonder people outside think strangely of us believers who are practicing this personal relationship. I have a friend who was in a long distance relationship with her boyfriend for a few years. They eventually got married but unfortunately still living in different continents. I could see the struggle they went through to keep that relationship going. At least they have MSN and Skype to help. In any case, they could always pick-up the phone and hear an audible voice! Our relationship with God is the ultimate long distance relationship. Yet at the same time, God says His spirit lives in us. He is so close and yet so far! I think the Christian faith is truly extraordinary in so many ways. It is like trying to bridge a gap that separates two worlds – the spiritual and the earthly. The only link we have between the two is Jesus Christ – the God-Man. One either thinks it is all rubbish, a naive and foolish endeavor. Or we drop to our knees. But you know what, as much as we think we are trying to reach for God, the Bible says grace and truth CAME through Jesus Christ.  God wants to reach out to us just as much, if not more! And He says… my sheep knows my voice.  That ought to encourage us. I think God understands our predicament. He knows that is not easy for us. Hey, who knows, maybe it is not easy for God either! Imagine an all-powerful and all-knowing God trying to communicate with His fallible and limited creation. This is why I think He can be patient with us and has us covered in His grace.

rk

Since the beginning of this new year, I keep hearing of how people around me are moving on to greater things, or at least are making plans to do so. Some are taking risk and challenging themselves to try something different. Some want to retire in 10 years and are looking for ways to make that happen. Some have plans to upgrade themselves to maintain a competitive edge. Some are fired up by motivational-self-help books to get their life back on track. Suddenly I feel a certain panic. I am turning 38 in a few weeks and have accomplished nothing by society’s standards. “What about you, what are you going to do about it?” seems to scream at me just about now. I could feel a sense of rising panic and voices telling me to catch up when I heard another voice, “Guard your heart. Let not your heart be troubled”. That stopped me in my tracks. I do not want this to be a “reaction” motivated by the fear of loosing out. I certainly do not want to end up laddering on someone else’s dream. Whatever my calling is, it should not require me to compromise on what is uniquely me. The only way to make the most of this rude awakening was to invite God into the picture. And so I did, knowing that everything else that follows will be filtered through his wisdom and love.

At about the same time, Seth Barnes, whose blogs had spoken to me in the past came to mind. With his wealth of experience in discipling and his passion for helping people reach their destiny, there must be something he can offer to help me along in this journey. We got in touch and together with another lady, Patti, they got me started on my journey. I spent two days pouring through blogs Seth had written in the past about dreaming and destiny. I even found some gems in the comments others left in his blog. Noted down everything that stirred my spirit, not fully knowing what they mean for me or where they lead yet. Basically just thinking and asking questions along the way. These are what I’ve got so far. Seth are Patti are guiding me over email as we go along. If you are a friend and a believer, do pray that God will make the path clearer with each step that I make towards Him. Perhaps you find the following resonate with your spirit as well. If they do, why not start your own journey?

Notes on dreams and destiny
Reference: Dreaming and Reaching Your Destiny

  • God’s dreams – dreams that build God’s kingdom.
  • Besides missions and ministry, what else builds God’s kingdom?
  • Emily’s dream of being a Hollywood actress. How is that a kingdom dream? How do we who are already on a conventional career path make it a kingdom dream?
  • Must we always give up the conventional path?
  • We come alive doing what we’re created to do. What makes me alive?
  • There must be God-room in every dream. If he doesn’t show up, the dream won’t happen.
  • Get the dream right. HOW?
  • A good idea is worth doing badly.
  • Fear constricts our heart.
  • What shapes our dream – world’s needs, our passion (heart), our plan (head), our skills (hand)
  • Dreams become clearer as we pursuit different impulses.
  • Is it ok if you don’t know what you’re called to do but feel like you’ve been called to so something? Because I am not sure, which makes me wonder if I’m answering the call.
  • Do I feel like I am where I am supposed to be or do I feel like I’ve been called to do something else?
  • What legacy would I leave behind? Who have I been influencing or ministering to? How have I touched lives?
  • Impact and legacy starts with listening – to God, to people we serve, to people whom we are accountable.
  • Greatness = dependence on God > takes risks > unpredictable
  • Turn off the noise your my life and seek God whole heartedly.
  • Greatness has little to do with your competence.
  • Read Steven Covey’s 8th habit.
  • What is Jesus asking you to do?
  • To follow Jesus is to be available to do impossible things.
  • He may take us to places that are deep but have some familiarity. Eg, a relationship that is familiar but feels impossible. Reaching out to them may feel like deep water to us.
  • God may want to deal with your heart before he has you extend your heart to others.
  • Examples of deep waters:
    troubled/broken relationships
    bad habits that eventually define who you are (eg. too critical, too negative, too withdrawn)
    reaching out to people different from you
  • God wants to eventually move us and trust us with greater challenges that build his kingdom.
  • God gave you a heart and passion for a reason. He expects you to listen to your heart and do not dismiss your passions.
  • What is the my heart’s cry? Can I trust my heart? How will I know if it’s truly free from self-interest, fear or my ego?
  • We don’t just fall into our highest and best in life. We often have to meander a little at first, fight and take mad risk along the way.
  • The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.
  • God knows the plans he has for us. When we truly open our hearts to Him, He has us covered no matter what his dream is for us.
  • We need to surround ourselves with a community of people who trust in his work.
  • Trust in God’s timing.

 

rk

Recently, I’ve been examining my heart for others and I ask myself these simple questions – especially when I’ve experienced pain, tension, or envy in my relationship:

Do I truly want this person to prosper? Do I want the best for this person? Do I truly want this person to flourish? Do I truly want this person to be restored? Do I truly want God to bless this person?

Here’s the kicker. If I can’t positively answer the questions above, the problem isn’t the other person…it’s me. – Eugene Cho

Pain, tension and envy. Who amongst us is not guilty of them? Eugene accurately points out the problem. These are some of the same searching questions I ask myself whenever feel a disharmony in my spirit, pertaining to relationships. Over the years friends, colleagues and even family members have shared with me their fair share of complaints, gossips and criticisms about other people. To those who were just sharing to get it out of their system, I do not give much input. But to those who genuinely want to be better people and have better relationships, I try to divert their focus to get them to first look at the situation from a new perspective. That almost always involve taking a trip down to their own heart. It is usually not a very pleasant trip. But it is necessary that we first deal with our own heart and our inner motivations. Clear the cobwebs there first if we want to revolutionalize our relationships. Once that is dealt with, we will feel liberated. It frees us to respond in a way that reflects the part of our self that is beautiful and true.

I have gone a good distance when it comes to pain, tension and envy in relationships but there is still quite a lot of ground left to cover. I am still working on it every single time those feelings surface.

The quote above was taken from Eugene’s post on Tiger Woods. It is a good read for personal-reflection (click here for full post), especially if you struggle with the same issues and well, if you want to be a better person generally. Who doesn’t?

rk

Jesus asked his followers to leave everything for a season so they might learn to see with spiritual eyes. They went on a destabilizing journey that forced them to depend on God. Most of you have been on a journey like that of one sort or another………But there are other kinds of journeys that throw our lives out of balance and send us in God’s direction. The journey of divorce, the journey of unemployment, the journey of an extended illness. None are welcome, but God can use all of them to force us to depend on him……..I aspire to the kind of vision Paul describes in the first chapter of Ephesians: “your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what he is calling you to do…” But most of the time, I prefer the hazy vision that comes with a comfortable lifestyle. Most of us are comfort-seekers. We need something really important to pry us out of our recliners. – Seth Barnes

These were words in season for me. Honestly, I don’t think there will ever be a time when I don’t need to hear it. The entire post (which is really not that long) is worth reading. If you’re going though a time of change, this will encourage you to stay the course and look up! cos all is not lost. In fact, you might just become an even more brilliant star. <wink>

rk

I just came home after a night spent at my church’s ministry meeting. I almost wanted to skip this, feeling rather tired after a long day at work. I am glad I went anyway. What I received tonight from our ministry leader not only refreshed me but also brought clarity to the struggle I am facing with Linda, the women I wrote about in the preceding post.

As I made my way to the meeting venue, my mind was already heavy with thoughts about what I have written about my encounter with Linda. I was cutting through the crowded CityLink Mall with my iPod on when I felt a sudden rush of emotion, a sense of “blessedness”, like someone is loving me right there and then. I wasn’t feeling very proud of myself after what I have written about my reluctance to get further involved with Linda. Yet I was reminded of how loved I am and I thought to myself, this is what I want Linda to have – to always feel loved, even when she least expects it. In that instance, I felt the reluctance fade a little and somehow….more ready.

When Deacon Sam spoke later that night, I knew it would be a word in season for me. It refocused my heart and mind again on the heart of serving, stripping away everything that is peripheral to it. Why do I serve? Because I love God. It is an expression of my love and worship. I can never give to God more than what He has given me. Because I love my Pastor. Through him, God has impacted my life in immeasurable ways, the very reason why I have that joy and hope still living in my heart today. Pastor has kept that flame alive. Because I love my church, my lifeline. Without her, every week would be such a drag. She is great today because she has some of the best leaders and pastors. The unity among them is admirable. Because I love the people that walk through its doors. I want for them the same life giving force that changed my life.

These are not directly linked to my incident with Linda but the motivation is the same for both. What is the meaning of serving if I can only serve God in one area and not another. What more when I know that above all things, God cares for individuals the most. In the end, there is really no excuse and I knew it.

Deacon Sam so rightly puts it, the only way we can serve God freely, with joy and not out of a sense of obligation is to know that God accepts us regardless. Our service to Him is not for His sake but for our own. It grows us. It enlarges us. It enriches us. I resolve then to mirror Deacon Sam’s attitude in the context of Linda’s case. God, if this is what You intend for me, give me the grace and for it so that it is not a struggle. If not, send somebody else. I am not responsible for the results, You are. If there is a challenge, You will meet it. I am just a tool in your hands.

rk

Do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. —Galatians 5:13

Freedom is dangerous in the hands of those who don’t know how to use it. That’s why criminals are confined in prisons with barbed wire, steel bars, and concrete barriers. Or consider a campfire that is allowed to spread in a dry forest. It quickly becomes a blazing inferno. Unchecked freedom can create chaos.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Christian life. Believers are free from the law’s curse, its penalty, and its guilt-producing power. Fear, anxiety, and guilt are replaced by peace, forgiveness, and liberty. Who could be more free than one who is free in the depths of his soul? But here is where we often fail. We use freedom’s luxury to live selfishly, or we claim ownership of what God has merely entrusted to us. We slip into patterns of self-indulgent living, especially in affluent societies.

The proper use of freedom is “faith working through love” to serve one another (Gal. 5:6,13). When we rely on the Spirit and expend our energies on loving God and helping others, the destructive works of the flesh will be restrained by God (vv.16-21). So let’s always use our liberty to build up, not to tear down.

Like a raging fire, freedom without limits is dangerous. But when controlled, it is a blessing to all.  — Dennis J. De Haan

Freedom doesn’t give us the right to do what we please, but to do what pleases God.

I do not usually share from my daily devotional. But today’s reading spoke to me and I would like to take some time to chew on it.

Coming from a grace-based church, I have the privilege of knowing what it is like to be free. I say that because not all Christians know, much less live in that liberty. There are many still bound by the chains that Christ has redeemed them from. There is a verse in the Bible that says, my people are destroyed from the lack of knowledge. Pastor once told us a story. There was an elderly man who lived alone in a humble shack. He had lived most of his life in lack. One day a distant friend visited him. As he was sipping tea on the shabby couch in the living room, he noticed something framed up on the wall. Curious, he asked the elderly man what it was. The man replied that it was something his grand aunt had left him before she passed away. He had it framed up to remember her by. His friend got up and walked over to have a closer look. To his amazement he saw that it was a will. Excited, he called the old man over and asked him what is the will doing in a wooden frame on the wall? The elderly man was speechless. He said he didn’t know it was a will as he is illiterate. The next day, they called in a lawyer to have the will authenticated. It turns out that his grandaunt had left him some shares of stocks which is estimated to be worth several million dollars in today’s market. If only the man had known of his inheritance! Likewise, believers who do not know their inheritance in Christ (and what an inheritance we have!) will not be able to enjoy it.

Freedom from the curse of the law, its penalty and its guilt-producing power is part of our inheritance.

How we use our new found freedom reflects how much we understand and appreciate this gift. The danger and temptation that comes with unlimited freedom is real, the same way blessing can be a curse if we abuse it. Paul must have seen this when he wrote to the church in Galatia. There will be some who will abuse it and some who do not understand it but the majority really want to use it properly. This is the life purpose of every believer – first, to know and enjoy the love of God and then to use our liberty to honor Him.

rk

Let’s be honest. Every one of us has gossiped one time or another in our life. For some it has become a habit; part of their character and that is really sad for they will find themselves very lonely one day.

Most people however, try to distinguish between communication and gossip. They draw a line so that they do not cross over to the dark side but sometimes they are confused, or their emotion gets the better of them, or they didn’t want to feel left out. Sometimes silence makes them uneasy, or they simply wanted some attention. Some do not know how to steer the conversation away from the gossip. So they listened, trying all the while not to contribute anything to it yet knowing that by tolerating it, they have already contributed. They always regret it afterwards.

If like me, you are concerned about what this destructive activity does to your soul and your sense of worth and how to know the difference between communication and gossip so that you can eliminate it from your speech and improve your relationships, may I recommend that you read this.

Wait Till You Hear This….!

Have you seen the latest episode of Gossip Girl? Read National Enquirer lately? How about People Magazine? Decrying gossip may seem quaint today, but with over one hundred magazines, TV shows and websites selling gossip, maybe we ought to remind ourselves of its dark side.

The more we value something the more specific we are in discussing it. For instance, to me, flour is just flour. However, if I’m shopping for my wife I am forced to differentiate between unbleached, bread, whole wheat and various other types.

The Bible contains many different words for ways to communicate because it places such high value on human connection. These words are not interchangeable; each has a specific meaning.

Leviticus 19:16 is commonly translated as:

Do not go about spreading slander among your people…

The Hebrew literally reads as:

Do not peddle gossip among your people…

Everyone agrees that slander is destructive and Biblical laws prohibiting it spawned similar civil laws. But gossip isn’t slander, right? Gossip is neutral and harmless, isn’t it?

Unlike any other language, Hebrew words magically intertwine with one another in a mystical dance. Every word in the Bible sends the student on a search for words that share the same roots and letters. Thus we get a clue to gossip’s essence by noting that the Hebrew for gossip, R-CH-L also means peddler. Ancient Jewish wisdom tells us that both these words also relate to R-G-L, the root word for spying.

In other words, gossiping, peddling, and spying are closely related ideas.
This helps us understand the reference to “peddle” in Leviticus 19:16. Peddlers convey goods from one person to another just as spies carry information. Similarly, gossips transmit details about one person to another. Peddlers provide economic benefit while spies can be either heroes or villains depending on your loyalties. Think Nathan Hale vs. Benedict Arnold.

What about the gossip? The prohibition in Leviticus seems to suggest it is always evil. But how do we define gossip? After all, if we never talk about other people, we might never discover someone needing our help. We could become utterly alienated from our families and communities.

What turns positive communication into negative gossip?

The Hebrew reveals the answer. While earning his living, a peddler does benefit his customer by selling him a desired product at a fair price. The patriotic spy engages in dangerous clandestine surveillance in order to help his country, but we have contempt for the amoral spy who engages in his activity for self enrichment.

So here is the foolproof monitoring system you need to install somewhere between your brain and mouth. Before speaking about another person ask yourself, “Who am I trying to benefit?” If your answer is “me,” you can be sure you are about to gossip.

Perhaps you want to fill an awkward silence, or perhaps you want to draw attention to yourself and appear important. Either way, if you breach a confidence or invade someone’s privacy, you are crossing the line from communication into gossip.

The gossiper always finds an audience but all recognize that he is not someone in whom to confide.. Gossiping reduces you in the eyes of others.

Gossip shatters relationships. The victim often discovers who spoke about him and then shuns that person forever.

Third, listening to gossip not only coats you with a slimy, subconscious sense of reduced worth but it forever changes your opinion of the person under discussion.

Decrying gossip is far from outdated. It is one of the most important self-improvement steps you can undertake. Banning gossip at your family’s dinner table and making your workplace a gossip-free-zone, will improve productivity in both arenas.

This article is taken from Thought Tools by Daniel Lapin – Vol. II Issue #26

rk

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