It's happened again. Another media shark feast, all due to a whiff of scandal within Christianity. This time it's the principal of a local Christian school.
Not for one moment am I minimizing the charges. If they're true, they're awful. And they require serious consequences. But I'm taking a stand here.
I've decided to believe the best. And not just about this man, or this circumstance. For a long time now I've been trying to urge the women in our church to believe the best about each other, every time, in every situation. I tell them that because 1 Corinthians 13 comes down, in large part, to that one sentence: Love believes the best. That means we don't take offense at one another, and it means that when we stand at a cross-roads choosing between two paths, we turn our back on the one that says, "I think she really meant that," and we run down the road that says, "I believe she didn't." I'm convinced that it's only when we consistently make that choice that we'll have peace in our relationships and peace within the church. And it's only then that the world will look at us in wonder, recognizing a love that eludes them in their circles.
So I've been sounding the gong for a long while now. I believed it on a conviction-level. But only in the last few months has the conviction taken root in my heart. Over those last few months, I myself have been the subject of gossip. One person chose to put words in my mouth rather than admit to the ones she spoke. The words she credited to me were absolutely false, and so far beyond anything I'd speak that I didn't recognize myself in the revised story as it made the rounds. Another person stood at the cross-road I just mentioned, listened to my explanation, took a few tentative steps down the road of "I believe she didn't," and then turn and ran full speed down the road of "I think she did." When the dust settled, friends I've known and loved for twenty years (and some for twelve) left me and left our fellowship without one word, and without even once asking me for the truth ... all because they chose to believe gossip.
So my ethereal view of gossip--and the godly way to handle it--has been brought into concrete terms for me. And when this story hit the news yesterday, and people started murmuring about it, I made a decision. I'm going to believe the best until I'm forced to believe otherwise. And it won't cost me a thing ... except the lingering taste of a dainty morsel. But I am, after all, the bride of Christ. I should probably watch what I'm eating.
The words of a gossip are like tasty bits of food.
People like to gobble them up. (Proverbs 18:8 New Century Translation)
Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy;
do you really want junk like that in your belly? (Proverbs 18:8 The Message)
There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV)