Saturday, February 11, 2012

Comments and the 8th Commandment

Last night someone left an anonymous comment to the post immediately preceding this one. It was full of heinous accusations against someone not actually named, so one is left to guess. Presumably the accusations were directed toward Mr. Rubio.

I deleted the comment. The comment was anonymous, unclear, and slanderous and libelous. It was hateful and vicious. The accusations were unsubstantiated.

This is not the way for this blog.

If the matters on which this person commented are true, they are certainly important. However, that manner of reporting them is wrongful and unwelcome.

This blog has as its foundation the Word of God, Jesus. Jesus is not about condemnation and destruction of persons. He is about salvation, redemption, forgiveness, restoration, and reconciliation. Thus, while what He declares, certainly includes the Law which shows us God’s holiness from which we fall monstrously short, His primary declaration is the Gospel of forgiveness and life. Because we never ever measure up to the standard of the Law of God’s holiness, it always accuses and condemns us. But the Lord is not willing that anyone should be left standing condemned. His gracious will is that all should hear the restoring power of the Gospel and to be converted from the condemnation and ways of unbelief to the new life of justification and sanctification.

Thus He has given us the Eighth Commandment. Luther’s explanation does a wonderful job of showing the full intent of this declaration.

The Eighth Commandment.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

What does this mean?—Answer.
We should fear and love God 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.

Like all of the Commandments or Words of the Decalogue, this can only be rightly understood when our heart is enlightened by the Gospel. The Gospel directs us back to the Lord so that we hear what His true intention is. His true intention is not to accuse and condemn but to rescue and restore. Thus, when we truly understand this as applying to ourselves, then we, like our loving Father, look to others with the same gracious intent.

Another Scriptural way of saying this is that we learn to love our neighbor as ourselves. Once we truly learn God’s love, we then begin to love ourselves, and that love changes how we look upon others so that we love them in the same way as we love ourselves.

When we seek to condemn and destroy others, we have forgotten true love of self. For the viciousness that we display toward others demonstrates that we have forgotten our own need for God’s grace and mercy and have ceased abiding in His peace and love. Thus His love no longer constrains us because we have turned away from His loving countenance to our own deceived thoughts.

We need to remember that the old adage of “Sticks and stones” is not true. It should really say “Sticks and stones may break our bones and words can truly crush us, but the Lord’s grace is truly sufficient for us to give us the strength to endure and forgive and love.”

Certainly sin has to be denounced. Certainly evil must be restrained. But this must begin with each of us. Only then can we justly speak concerning others. Only then are we able to see clearly so as to speak for what is good.

We do indeed need to be aware of what is wrong around us, especially when these things can bring harm to others. There is an appropriate way to warn against these things. Unsubstantiated and vicious accusations are not the way. The proper intent of crying out with warning about the past deeds of others and especially of people in positions of leadership, is to warn against a propensity for the recurrence of such evil deeds.

But what if that person has been converted from those ways? Should we not first be certain to know whether or not the person has been turned from the ways of destruction and wickedness? Should we not be certain that we are dealing with what is and not merely with what was? And should we not provide evidence for any warnings that we make?

I know that in my own life that I must always be on guard against my own sinful nature. Even then, I must remember that the power to overcome my sinfulness is the power of God’s merciful love toward me. God’s love is what changes me from a vicious hatemonger to a lover of self and neighbor. God’s love is what turns me from one who lashes out thoughtlessly to one who cares for those who could be hurt by my words and actions.

Words truly are powerful. They can build up or they can tear down. They can rescue or they can destroy. They can defend or they can attack. They can comfort or they can condemn and cause shame.

Truly caution needs to be used in how we speak. I certainly fail in this regard and need to be called back continually from such failures to the love and mercy of the Lord. In this posting I hold this necessity before one and all that we may all be continually converted by God’s gracious work through His Holy Spirit.

God’s peace to all in Christ Jesus.

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Canadian Atheist said...

Sorry to hear that you had such a hateful comment on your blog. I agree with the sentiment of your post - we could all use a little more charity in our hearts.

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