Saturday, October 6, 2012

"Not To Mention Any Names..."

Here are some very good thoughts from Hugh Binning's Christian Love (Banner of Truth, Puritan Paperbacks) on how we talk about others. I  read them while walking in the park yesterday, and being very struck by them, marked the page with some grass stems as a reminder to put them in my blog. The grass stems becoming rather troublesome I thought it best to post without further delay. Consider Mr. Binning's words:
"Great censurers are often the greatest hypocrites, and sincerity has always much charity.  Truly, there is much idle time spent this way in discourse of one another, and venting our judgments of others. As if it were enough of commendation for us to condemn others, and much piety to charge another with impiety...I would think one great help to amend this would be to abate from superfluity and multitude of discourses upon others. In the multitude of words there wants not sin, and in the multitude of discourse upon other men there cannot miss the sin of rash judging. I find the saints and fearers of God commended for speaking often one to another, but not at all for speak of one another. (Mal. 3:16)"
I have been guilty of this idle discourse about others, justifying it because, "I won't mention any names." It is good to avoid giving our neighbor a bad name when we must use their actions as an example. But how often is it that these anonymous recitation of other people's failures are used as a prideful showcase for our personal discernment? We feel good about ourselves because we can say , "A friend that I won't name did ______" and "I can't imagine how they can do that!" and pat ourselves on the back for being so good at life - much better than most people. But did we really need to bring it up at all?

Continuing with Mr. Binning:
If we would indeed grow in grace by the Word, and taste more how gracious the Lord is, we must lay these aside, and become as little children... Love covers all sins, conceals them from all to whom the knowledge of them does not belong (Prov. 10:12). Love, in a manner, suffers not itself to know what it knows, or at least to remember it will pass by an infirmity, and refuse to recognize it, while many stand still and commune with it.
Isn't "commune with it" a very apt term? We sinfully spend time discussing other's failures until we feel the full effects of our superiority, leaving the anonymous sinner to their foolish ways and our silent condemnation. Love doesn't do that. Love will either be quiet and bear a bothersome fault, or speak up to correct a dangerous fault. As Mr. Binning points out -
This is nothing to the prejudice of that Christian duty of reproving and admonishing one another (Eph. 5:11): "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.'...But to look too narrowly to every step, and to write up a register of men's mere frailties, especially so as to publish them to the world: that is inconsistent with the rule of love. ...He that has most defects himself will find most in others...but a wise man can pass by frailties, yea, offences done to him, and be silent (Prov. 11:12).  

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