A little over a week ago I made brief mention of Saddleback Church’s new rules for maintaining moral integrity. Part 1.
Perhaps the 15 rules set by Saddleback really is about removing temptation from the staff, and if so, you got to do what you got to do. If it’s needed for their church, I’m glad something’s being done. My main concern is that this list is somehow about what people’s perception may be about the interactions mentioned in this list.
Perception. It sometimes becomes synonymous with the word gossip.
A while back a Sunday school teacher I knew was asked to step down from her position. (No, it wasn’t the famous one). She was asked to step down because some people in the community saw her playing golf with a man who was not her husband. She and her husband are separated (and were at the time all this happened) and a rumor began that she was cheating on him. The only foundation for the rumor was the golfing incident.
This Sunday school teach had a right to be hurt. She did not broadcast her marriage problems to everyone – only her close friends knew what she was going through and it was this: her husband left her. On three separate occasions previous to this. This Sunday school teacher has a strong personality – and I felt it was the reason the target was placed on her back instead of her husband’s. She spoke her mind, she had an opinion about things, she was wild as a teenager and she never kept that a secret. In fact, is was a joy for her to share how God redeemed her from the out-of-control drinking and disrespect she showed her parents, along with several other things.
I will not go into any more details about what the church leadership did what and how things are for her at the church. But I will say this again: perception often turns to gossip.
People look for the sin in others to make them feel better about themselves (I know I do sometimes). But perception is not always truth, and to pass it off as such is wrong.
It feels good, doesn’t it? To tell another a juicy piece of gossip about someone else that makes your own sin seem tiny in comparison Well, yeah, I sinned. But look what she did. It was so much worse! Gossip about others makes us feel better, plain and simple. That’s why it’s done so often.
We all make many mistakes, but those who control their tongues can also control themselves in every other way. We can make a large horse turn around and go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a tiny rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot wants it to go, even though the winds are strong. So also, the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is full of wickedness that can ruin your whole life. It can turn the entire course of your life into a blazing flame of destruction, for it is set on fire by hell itself…Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it breaks out into curses against those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! -James 3:2-6, 9-10
Boundaries exist for a reason. Without them, lives are ruined – whether by perception of an sinful act or the actual sin. If we would only seek approval from God and not others, perhaps our perception would shift from others to the truth. Maybe we’d work more on fixing ourselves rather than judging others. I believe God would be honored by that.