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“Christian” Transparency & Accountability & Two Cents Worth of Caution


I believe in the importance of “Christian accountability” in the church.  I wholeheartedly believe in transparency and authenticity (including brutal honesty).   I’m accountable to older men in Tokyo that I trust are godly, and can speak into my life with wisdom from the Word and experience.   I am transparent before God who sees and knows all my thoughts from afar, and I am transparent to my wife who knows and can speak into my life biblically and truthfully.  Everything is naked and laid bare before Him, to whom everyone must give an account (Heb. 4: 12, 13).

I believe we are to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another as priests (James 5:16).  And I believe in Paul’s transparency when he said- “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (I Cor. 11:1)  Face off!  No religious mask!  What you see is what you get!  I’m all for it.  But what is often passed of as “Christian transparency” is sometimes

“….faux-honesty so often used as an excuse for voicing various kinds of complaints, doubts, accusations, fleshly desires, and other kinds of evil thoughts.  This exhibitionistic “virtue” is often paired with a smug self-congratulatory sneer or a condescending dismissal of anyone who dares to suggest that propriety and spiritual maturity may sometimes require us not to give voice to every carnal thought or emotion—i.e., that sometimes discretion is better than transparency.” 

Sometimes discretion is better than transparency, precisely because not many of us can be trusted with information about people.   In the past I’ve witnessed people using confidential information to literally tear down each other.  A disciple comes to his mentor confessing his sins, and the mentor uses the disciple’s sins against him when he’s upset.  Ungodly, very un-Christ-like, and utterly abusive!  Living in a fast-paced world, we are so bent on making hasty decisions and judgement calls based on our assumptions, prejudices and subjective opinions.  We lack clarity and patience even when dealing with people who are living in sin, not realizing how patient God has been with us.  They come trusting that we will give them a just hearing and restore them to the Lord, but we fail to see Galatians 6: 1 when speaking to them about their sins:

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”

We forget that the aim is restoration, which includes listening to understand than being quick to speak on the issue.   Notice it says, “If anyone is caught in ANY (includes a lot of) transgression,” and notice the second half, “you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.”  Precisely because there are character assassins (like the elder brother in the prodigal son) who lack grace-centered leadership, the sheep are afraid and suspicious of any calls for “transparency” no matter how well intended it is.  We disqualify ourselves by the harshness of our tone, though we may speak the truth.  The harshness of the tone blurs the truth and the hearer hears no grace.

So the qualifier of someone going to restore another person living in sin is often overlooked.  It says, “you who are spiritual” (not fleshly, cold, cynical or unnecessarily harsh) “should restore him” in what spirit?  “in a spirit of gentleness” (which is one of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5).  And it says, “keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”  If you’re not walking in the Spirit, you may do more harm than good in trying to restore someone in sin.  In other words, “keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” to be unloving and lacking gentleness thereof.  We forget too soon that Jesus is “full of grace and truth” (John 1: 14).   Truth confronts us of our error and pride without humiliating us, and grace lifts us up without puffing us up.   In the end, grace and truth helps us to see how loved we are despite all our sins. 

Nothing may be as poisonous and destructive as gossip is in a community.  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18: 21f).  So you can speak life or destroy a person with your mouth through gossip.  George Harrison of The Beatles was right when he said, “Gossip is the devil’s radio.”  Gossip is confessing the sins of others.  The Gospel calls us to confess our sins, not other people’s sins.  Gossip broadcasts people’s weaknesses and sins, while others tune in to the frequency, and is therefore ultimately slanderous and destructive.
For example: Person A may really respect person B, and because person A eagerly believed what he heard about person C say of person B, now person A has lost his trust and respect for person B (which may only be partially true but poisonous nonetheless).
So it’s important to discern and be willing to put a hold on the subject until you have gained a fuller picture. “The first to put forth his case seems right, until someone else steps forward and cross-examines him” (Prov. 18: 17).  Also gossip relies heavily on second hand information so it tends to be biased, and the truth is stretched or distorted or lost somewhere in translation as it is passed on.  As a result “evil suspicions” and spiritual unrest rises up in the community.  Gossip is close to collaborating with Satan’s work, who is also described as the destroyer (John 10: 10).   He likes to destroy communities, especially when God’s people give him a helping hand by offering him their unbridled mouth.  Gossip hisses closely resembles the snake’s whisper in the garden, also described as “the accuser of the brothers & sisters” [Rev. 12: 10].  It’s also terrible when pastors gossip about other pastors to others and so on!  This is simply: evil!  But where does this destructive evil come from?  Jesus, the One who sees the heart says, the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6: 45).  
  1. The first step is to confess that you are powerless over your bondage to gossip since it comes from your heart.  You’ve tried keeping your mouth shut, only to catch yourself doing it again and again.
  2. Humbly acknowledge that “no human being can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” [James 3: 8], though it may be the smallest member in your body.
  3. Repent and ask God to forgive you for the trouble and hurt it has caused others whom He loves.  Ask the person for forgiveness whose reputation you may have slandered, especially if it has been blown out of proportion.
  4. Ask God to create in you a clean new heart, and renew a right spirit within you (Ex. 36: 26).  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you guard your heart, for out of it springs the issues of life (Prov. 4: 23).   The evils of your heart that is causing problems is a disservice to Christ, and to the person that is created in God’s image.   To slander others that are created in His image is to dishonor God the creator.  Realize that Jesus died on the cross to forgive your sins- including your struggles with gossip.  Jesus died also for your inability to change to give you power to change.
Lastly, realize that “God is love” (I John 4:8).  It is His nature to love.  And His “love covers a multitude of sins” [I Peter 4: 8].  We all have sinned and fallen short (Roms 3: 23).  But God’s grace comes to us in Christ.  God clothes us with a righteousness, not our own, but Christ’ righteousness (2 Cor. 5: 21).   Jesus lived a life we could never live; and that is imputed to us, by grace through faith (Eph. 2: 8).  The Spirit comes to indwell us, and He continues to sanctify us.  For further reading, in this article below, “Newton points out that while most Christians succeed in avoiding more gross sins, many do not actually experience much in the way of actual spiritual growth.”  May the sweet conviction of the Spirit come into your heart, and reveal to you the abundance of grace in Christ available for you to affect changes.  As you read on, prayerfully ask yourself and see which one (perhaps even all at times) describes you HERE.
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