Friday, September 28, 2012

Tattle Tales, Rats, and The Bible


Nobody likes a tattle tale.  We all know them and have had them in their lives.  They are like little Satans who stand before anyone who will listen accusing anyone of anything they think they have seen.  Some grow out of it, but some spend their lives with the bizarre enjoyment of getting other people in trouble.  Some like to do it for professional reasons where they climb a corporate ladder made out of the knives sticking in the back of people who once trusted and respected them.  Some do it for sadistic pleasure.  Some do it to feel better about themselves.  In prison, they compete with child molesters for the lowest of the low in that particular hierarchy.  It is true, nobody like a tattle tale.  That said, there is another extreme.  There is the idea that it is somehow noble to lie or hold back information so as not to get someone you know into trouble.  This comes back to loyalty. Are you loyal to God or to man?  I will begin with some Scripture and it is one that must be stamped on our hearts if Jesus is our true loyalty.
If you love Me, keep My commandments.  John 14:15 NKJV
So in keeping in the context of that verse and Jesus truly being number one in our lives, let us take a look at what the Bible says about the subject of what the world calls being a rat, tattle taleing, or even just being a good friend. 
Lying lips [are] an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal truthfully [are] His delight.  Proverbs 12:22 NKJV
The first thing we need to know is that we should never lie for a friend.  We all know this from the Ten Commandments.  Lying is wrong, plain and simple.  There is no righteous way to lie for your friend to cover for him.  This also applies to family.  If someone asks you about something your friend or family member may have done wrong, it is never right to tell a lie.  This is a great application of conflicting loyalties.  Either you remain true to God or to your friend.  In this case, there is no middle ground.  I know the world tells us to cover for our friends and family and to even be dishonest if it means not getting that person in trouble, but God says differently.  What you or the world may think is noble, is actually sin and no sin is ever noble. 

Some of you may point out that there is, in fact, a way to be honest and to cover for your friend and that is to honestly say you do not want to talk about it.  That is, in some cases, more than valid.  For example, if a gossip or anyone else who has no business knowing anything asks you about your friend, you have every right to tell that person you not want to talk to them.  But there is a time when it is the business of someone else to ask. 
If a person sins in hearing the utterance of an oath, and [is] a witness, whether he has seen or known [of the matter]--if he does not tell [it], he bears guilt.  Leviticus 5:1 NKJV
In other words, if you have information regarding a crime or even a civil matter and there is a call for you to testify, you must testify.  This idea of covering even to the police for a friend is wrong.  If your friend commits a crime and you know about it and the police come and ask you about it, you are bound to answer them.  This is not betraying a friend, this is being true to God who is a God of justice.  God gave the authority of punishing earthly evil to earthly authorities.  Getting in the way of justice is getting in the way of God's minister of justice.  I know very well that mankind has abused this privilege, but this idea is affirmed in Romans when Christians were living under terrible tyranny and persecution.  In other words, and as much as we might hate the idea in the flesh, it is not our concern if the law is abusive, we are to concede justice to our earthly authorities.  If we are called to testify, even against our best friend or closest brother, the Bible tells us that we are just as accountable for what they did wrong so long as we are part of covering up that crime.

There is one other instance I want to bring up when we are supposed to, in a sense, tell on someone.
Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell [it] to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.   Matthew 18:15-17 NKJV
If someone has sinned against you and refuses to repent when challenged, your a supposed to then involve other people.  If, at that point in time, that person still refuses to repent, then you are to bring the matter before the church.  In this case, you are basically tattle taleing, but in a righteous sense.  This, again, is not betraying your brother or being a tattle tale as much as it is living in obedience to the Word of God.  We hope that we can talk it out with our brother, but sometimes he may be more stubborn than we would have hoped.  Sadly. many fail at these steps for fear of being seen as a trouble maker.  Sadly, this has allowed things to go on in the church that should not. 

We must be careful with this last one.  There is a fine line between reaching out to a sinning brother and spreading gossip.  Until that person fails to repent after a personal intervention and an intervention with a few select others does it need to get out to the rest of the church and only by and through the authority of the pastor of that church.  It is never your business to spread anything around the church.  You do not have that authority and you are yourself guilty of the wretched, horrible, divisive sin of gossip.   

In summary, there are a few things we can glean from what the Bible says on today's topic.  First and foremost, we are never to lie.  Telling a lie for a friend or a family member to cover for them is not noble.  It is sin, no matter how you look at it, and it is always wrong.  God is certainly more than capable of working things out without us trying to "help" God by lying.  Secondly, is many cases there is the option to simply remain silent.  However, this is not an option if you are being asked to testify.  And, finally, if there is someone sinning and refuses to repent even after discussing the matter alone with him with others and him, that matter is to be brought before the church.  Yes, there does come a point to tattle.   We also learned that we must balance this against being guilty of gossip.  Yes, this even includes telling the wrongdoings of others in order to "pray" for them.  Be honest, it is just an excuse to spread information to people who have no business knowing.   

I know the world hates the idea of anyone who does not keep quiet.  The world hates a rat and a tattle tale, but there are times when it is the right thing to do.  Doing so may not make you popular, but following God is often not a popular thing to do.  The way of God is not the wide road, it is the narrow and sometimes lonely path.   Once again, it all comes down to loyalty and whether or not God really is first in your life.  It also comes down to faith and trust.  Do you trust God to work things out by doing the right thing or do you think you need to "help" God by doing the wrong thing? 
The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.  Proverbs 29:25 NKJV

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