Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Tough Day

There are many days in my week where my job is absolutely amazing and I go home feeling happy and satisfied. Friday was not one of those days. It wasn't the kids, however, they were amazing. Unfortunately, it was my co-workers (thankfully not my co-teacher!). Don't ask me what happened, I won't go into it. Mostly, because that is not where this story lies.

The story is actually about power. The power to affect change. This is normally seen as a good thing. We are told at every graduation speech that we have the power to affect change and we should do so. This is definitely true but it has to be in the right context. Power has to be given before it can be wielded. Power does come in many forms. The kind I am referring to is the kind that affects people's opinions and the reputation of other people. The Bible has very specific words for it. We know it as the 8th Commandment.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, think and speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

The ugly monster of gossip reared it's ugly head at my workplace. It's such a damaging monster wrapped in pretty packaging. It's covered with the phrases such as, "I am just speaking the truth," or "I am only telling you what I saw." Such a cover! With these words horrid damage is done. But when is it okay to talk about another person? When does it go from gossip to correcting the errors seen?

Just because you know the truth, doesn't mean you have the right to spread it around. Is this an error that should be brought to the authorities? Then do so if it is. If it is not, think of what you would have your neighbor do if your roles were reversed. Would you like everyone to know your slights and sins? (Matthew 7:12)

Think on these words for a moment from Martin Luther about the 8th Commandment:

"When they know about a slight offense committed by another person, they carry it into every corner. They are delighted and tickled to stir up others' displeasure, just as swine delight to roll themselves in the dirt and root in it with the snout. This is nothing other than meddling with God's judgment and office and pronouncing sentence and punishment iwth the most severe verdict." (Large Catechism 267)

Perhaps after looking to Luther's Large Catechism, it is better not to say anything except to those who judge by vocation the righteness of the actions you have witnessed. Such vocations are given to the bosses, law enforcement officials, lawmakers, etc. This is not an exclusive list, but the idea comes across clear. If this vocation you have been given by God does not include the responsibility of judging and dolling out punishment, it is better to keep quiet about those sins you witness unless it becomes a Fourth Commandment responsibility.

God forgive me where I have failed to do this and help me to catch up to my holiness given to me by Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.