How to Handle an Evil Report

Years ago Dennis Jackson shared some wisdom regarding how to handle an evil report. An evil report is when someone comes to us and shares negative or accusing information about another person. It can be easy to just listen, empathize and even desire to hear such information. However, followers of Jesus are called to live in peace with everyone and gossip/slander is considered sin. So, how should we deal with reports that appear to be negative toward another person?

Here is the wisdom I received and so I’m passing it on to you.

Six questions to ask the person BEFORE listening to an evil report:

1. “What is your reason for telling me?”  Widening the circle of gossip only compounds the problem.  If it doesn’t involve you then you don’t need to be in the mix.

2. “Where did you get your information?” Refusal to identify the source of information is a sure signal of a evil report.

3. “Have you gone to those directly involved?”   Spirituality is not measured by how well we expose an offender, but by how we effectively restore an offender.  (Galatians 6:1)  (Matthew 18:15)

4. “Have you personally checked out all the facts?”  Even “facts” become distorted when not balanced with other facts or when given with negative motives.

5. “Can I quote you if I check this out?”  Those who give evil reports often claim that they are ‘misquoted.’  This is because their words and overriding impressions are reported.

6. “What is the sin issue in this situation?”  Is this a sin issue (has someone been wronged), or an expectation, personality or style issue (someone has a different opinion and preference)?

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Some helpful passages: 

Romans 15:5-6 

“May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other–each with the attitude of Christ Jesus toward the other.  Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”

 

Ephesians 4:2-6

Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.  Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace.”

 

Living in community with others (who are not perfect) leads to disagreements, misunderstandings and hurt feelings. One way to encourage healing and resolution is to not participate in passing along negative or divisive comments. This is very difficult because it is always juicy and sometimes the information will reinforce our own struggles with a person.

What if I chose to pray instead of complain? What if I chose to seek understanding instead of seeking my way?  What if I put myself in the shoes of the person being spoken of? What if the main goal of my life (and how I handled conflicts and personal issues) was to glorify and honor God? These questions are easier said than done. We need the Holy Spirit and supportive brothers and sisters to live in oneness together.

A new soundtrack.

Do you have a soundtrack for your life?

Unfortunately my life has had personal failures, I’ve hurt people, I’ve chosen selfishness, and I’ve sinned.  Some of these things poked their head out publicly, and others stayed hidden.  Over the years, I blamed myself for what I did, but the blame also began to be directed at who I am.  Therefore, a soundtrack of self-rejection took root.  So, when I disappointed someone or failed again, I would begin to hear the words that, ‘I deserve to be pushed aside, abandoned, rejected, thrown out, and forgotten.’

Have you ever had a critical soundtrack blaring in your ears and constantly reminding you of who you really are?

Henri Nouwen, from his book “Life of the Beloved”, relays this truth from God to you and I.  I think it should become a new soundtrack for everyone.

“I have called you by name, from the very beginning.  You are mine and I am yours.  You are my beloved, on you my favor rests.  I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb.  I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace.  I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child.  I have counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step.  Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch.  I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst.  I will not hide my face from you.  You know me as your own as I know you as my own.  You belong to me.  I am your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your lover, and your spouse… yes, even your child… wherever you are I will be.  Nothing will ever separate us.  We are one.”

So, when the old music starts to play, I encourage you to change the channel and remember that you are God’s beloved and on you His favor rests.

What are you wishing for?

Christmas is marching toward us. This is a time associated with wishing. It is a time of hoping that things can be different.

In this season someone might be wishing for…

a toy

a job

a second chance

a relationship

a healed body

a sense of peace

 

The first Christmas was a much anticipated moment with the wishes of many people wrapped up in the Christ child.

So…

This Christmas… what are you wishing for?

 

 

Compare to Share

My twelve year old daughter and I had a meaningful discussion about stuff.  She relayed some of what she sees other people in her life getting and how it makes her feel.  She was transparent and showed great maturity in her assessment of the situation.  I could relate to some of the feelings she mentioned – especially the lack of contentment that comes from comparing to people who have more.

We made an elementary discovery together.

If we must compare, we should not compare to those with more – only those with less.

We figured that there is someone who always has more and when we compare to people with more we are left feeling discontentment and focused on ourselves.

But, if we must compare, then we should only compare to those with less.

This way to compare should compel us to share.

I’ve mentioned before about folks I met in Ethiopia who lived on less than a dollar a day.  When I get uptight about what I don’t have or can not obtain… I just put myself back in that dirt floored hut and thank God for what I have been entrusted.  But then I also am moved to share and not to hoard, because everything is God’s anyways.

So, in this season we are trying to compare only if it compels us to share.

 

Location, Location, Location

I’ve been taking in Eugene Peterson’s memoir entitled, “The Pastor.”  It is a wonderful book with rich language, meaningful stories, and it seems to be enriching my soul.

All of his books on pastoring are inspirational and resonate with my deepest longings for my vocation.  If only I wouldn’t become distracted by my own ego.

Peterson encourages pastors to be local and know the land God has called you to.  (I’m also reading a book entitled: “The wisdom of stability: rooting faith in a mobile culture.”  I’m sure I’ll unpack some thoughts from that another time.)

Here is a quote from Eugene’s book “Under the Unpredictable Plant” that touches on the importance of being local.

“It is in the nature of pastoral work to walk into an alien world, put our feet on the pavement, and embrace the locale. Pastoral work is geographical as much as it is theological. Pastors don’t send memos, don’t send generic messages, don’t work from a distance: locale is part of it. It is the nature of pastoral work to be on site, working things out in the particular soil of a particular parish.”

Am I present?  Am I local?  Or am I lobbing blessings from a distance?