Showing posts with label Gossip. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gossip. Show all posts

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Combatting Evil Thoughts - Lent with Bonhoeffer Day 34– Purity 1006

Combatting Evil Thoughts - Lent with Bonhoeffer Day 34– Purity 1006

Purity 1006 04/01/2023 Purity 1006 Podcast

Purity 1006 on YouTube: 

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a pair of monarch butterflies in midflight over a field of knee high greenery comes to us from yours truly as I once again have looked back into my phone’s photo archive to set more “photo captives” free. This scene was captured back on August 9th of 2020 from a spontaneous hike down a previously unknown “public fishing foot path” near the Brookwood Secure Center for Youth in Claverack NY.  So while I was “walking free” but cautiously over an unknown path capturing photos of butterflies nearby there was a prison housing juvenile delinquents who were dealing with the consequences of wrong actions.

Well, It’s Saturday and I hope that considering that contrast of freedom and imprisonment doesn’t bring you too far down and that you deeply appreciate the freedom you do enjoy, no matter where you are or what your situation is, and that if you are suffering the consequences of your own, or someone else’s wrong actions, that you seek to “be set free” by turning from the past to follow the Lord into the freedom and abundant life that He has waiting for you.  

That summer of 2020, I was still working two jobs and 6 days a week as a consequence of my divorce, so I was very intentional about enjoying what freedom I did have and remember now that this spontaneous hike was actually born as a consequence of the State Park at Lake Taghkanic being closed that day because of Covid-19 concerns, thus blocking my goal of having some summer fun by going swimming.  But on the way back t home, I decided I would “do something” with my one day off that week and decided to go and see where this unknown fishing path would take me. I actually took that hike in hopes in finding a stream in which I could take a dip but the only water I found was a creek that was rocky and shallow and surrounded by clouds of unwelcoming mosquitos! But even though my hope of a private swim session at a secluded spot turned out to be a pipe dream, I remember that I was still please with the hike all the same because I had answered my soul’s call to “DO SOMETHING” and had bravely stepped out of my comfort zone by taking a road that was less travelled.  Sometimes its not about the destination as much as it is about enjoying the journey and accepting whatever you find waiting for you when you step out in faith.   

So I hope that all who read or hear this message appreciate the freedom you have and I encourage you to  “DO SOMETHING” to enjoy it this weekend.  Me? I have plans to go with my wife to Mass MoCa (The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) in North Adams, There is rain in the forecast today in our neck of the woods but we are being intentional to “DO Something” regardless of that consequence and will spend part of our day enjoying works of art and one another’s company.   

But before that let’s continue to step out in faith together with our current series, the 40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as we step into the unknown country of Day 34 of this devotional and the 34th day of Lent.

As a reminder, and as we will say each day of this journey, we take this path to mark the season of Lent and to draw closer to God in anticipation of the celebration of Easter, knowing that if we take this journey of repentance seriously, we will not only see the days and seasons change, the Lord will use it to change us too. 

You can sign up to get this devotional yourself by going to the Biblegateway link on the blog (( . 

Day 34

Bonhoeffer writes:

“Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be verbalized.

It is certain that the spirit of self-justification can only be overcome by the spirit of grace; and it is just as certain that the individual judgmental thought can be limited and suppressed by never allowing it to be spoken except as a confession of sin….

Thus it must be a decisive rule of all Christian community life that each individual is prohibited from talking about another Christian in secret.

It is clear and will be shown in what follows that this prohibition does not include the word of admonition that is spoken personally to one another.

However, talking about others in secret is not allowed even under the pretense of help and goodwill.

For it is precisely in this guise that the spirit of hatred between believers always creeps in, seeking to cause trouble.”

Biblical Wisdom

Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Questions to Ponder

  • Talking with people about someone else you are having trouble with when they are not there is called “triangulation.” In what ways does triangulation harm a community of faith?

M.T. Clark: Triangulation? Wow, you learn something new every day. It’s good to know there is a technical term for talking about someone “behind their back”: Triangulation! Anyway it is not difficult to think of ways that this behavior can cause harm to the community of faith. This behavior sows discord as the person being talked about is unable to share their perspective on the matters at hand and the “complainer” is undoubtedly making a case for sympathy while they are talking about the other party. The listener here is also being put in the tough situation as they now have to decide whether to believe what is said and whether or not they report it to the third party or someone else.   Rather than following the protocols laid down in scripture that are intended to resolve difficulties among the brethren ( in Matt 5:23-25 & 18:15-17)  this behavior causes division and stress. Gossip is a sin and thus triangulation causes the strangulation of the unity of the bond of peace that we are to have in the community of faith. Seek to bring the parties together to resolve issues, keep each other accountable and to maintain the unity of the body of Christ.

  • How can a community of faith enforce the rule “that each individual is prohibited from talking about another Christian in secret”?

M.T. Clark: Well, in truth, it can’t. All it takes is one Christian to complain and another to sit idly by listening for this behavior to exist.  However, we can try to establish a culture  of honest transparency and accountability in the body of Christ. Those in leadership could put an emphasis on the harmony of the congregation by establishing an environment where the congregation is encouraged to be “peacemakers” and to continually seek to resolve any issues that would cause division.  The church could establish a pastoral counseling ministry with the express purpose of resolving conflicts within the congregation but in this day and age of consumer Christianity, many may choose to take their business elsewhere if they feel the church is too concerned with “prying in their business!”   I marvel at the idea of enacting the protocols of church discipline in this modern age because I have seen people leave the church for far less and mourn the fact that even the concept of the church doing what the Bible says in this regard  is so foreign to me, and I believe the majority of Christian churches today.

  • Would this be a good rule to generalize and apply to the workplace, school, families, among friends? Why, or why not?

M.T. Clark: A good rule to apply would be to seek to bring parties together when we are presented with someone complaining about someone else, with the intention of bringing the parties together in peace. However, this could result in no one brining their problems to you any more!  And let’s face it, it could result in larger problems of division as the third party could take offense over being talked about or could be completely in the wrong and either refuse to admit it or refuse to change or compromise and could even take delight in causing offense to others. It’s a broken world and sometimes people come in secret to report what has happened to them because are being abused and are afraid.  So we really have to use wisdom here and perhaps bring in others in positions of authority to offer counsel and help.  

Psalm Fragment

Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord;
   keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not turn my heart to any evil,
   to busy myself with wicked deeds
   in company with those who work iniquity…. 
Psalm 141:3-4

Journal Reflections

  • Have you ever experienced being triangulated, being talked about negatively when you were not there? If so, write about the experience. How did it feel?

M.T. Clark: Undoubtedly, yes I have.  However, because I was not there and can only try to glean what must have been said because of the negative consequences I faced in life, I to this day can not state that “anything was being said about me” in some circumstances.  Which is positively maddening!

Personally, you know when relationships end that something must have been said about you when you lose mutual friends and that the other part of the triangle was believed or preferred over you.

Professionally, the results of changes in your location or function at work leads you to believe that you very well may have been “triangulated” against but even though the changes you have had to suffer seem highly personal, sometimes we can never be sure if it was “just business” or highly personal reasons why what happened to you  happened.  Logic tells us that someone had to “discuss” the changes that affected you personally but often professional protocols leave you powerless to know the truth of what actually happened to cause the consequences you suffered or to come to a satisfactory resolution because confronting others won’t change what has been decided. 

So that’s all rather vague, I guess, but I don’t want to talk about anyone behind their back!  But I would say either personally or professionally, when others “triangulate” you, it feels terrible as your trust has been betrayed and you feel judged and treated unfairly.


  • Have you ever engaged in triangulation? If so, write about the experience. How did it feel?

M.T. Clark: Of course, I wasn’t always a Christian and I am still a work in progress. Yes, I have talked about other people who have wronged me or upset me to others behind their backs.  Relationships have been broken and out of my hurt I would seek to vent to friends about what others have done to me. Recently, I have talked to a brother in Christ about some mutual acquaintances that have treated us badly in the past because of our faith. Is this gossip? Or is it honestly confiding in one another about the abuse we suffered?   I’m not sure but confessing about the abuse was a relief. Unburdening what happens to us feels good. That’s why speaking in secret can be such a problem for the faith community. Lord forgive us.

Prayer for Today

Spirit of love, may the words I speak be the kind that build people up.

In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen. 


(40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.)

***As we are being provided with Bible verses from the 40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we will are taking a break from sharing a verse of the day from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”. We plan on resuming that normal installment of the blog following Easter.*** 


As always, I invite all to go to where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

Today we continue sharing from A.W. Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God.”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase A.W. Pink’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.





We shall now consider the Value of the doctrine in detail.

2. It is the solid foundation of all true religion

This naturally follows from what we have said above under the first head. If the doctrine of Divine sovereignty alone gives God His rightful place, then it is also true that it alone can supply a firm base for practical religion to build upon. There can be no progress in Divine things until there is the personal recognition that God is Supreme, that He is to be feared and revered, and He is to be owned and served as Lord. We read the Scriptures in vain unless we come to them earnestly desiring a better knowledge of God’s will for us: any other motive is selfish and utterly inadequate and unworthy. Every prayer we send up to God is but carnal presumption unless it be offered “according to His will”: anything short of this is to ask ‘amiss’ that we might consume upon our own lusts the thing requested.! Every service we engage in is but a “dead work” unless it be done for the glory of God. Experimental religion consists mainly in the perception and performance of the Divine will, performance both active and passive. We are predestinated to be “conformed to the image of God’s Son” whose meat it ever was to do the will of the One that sent Him, and the measure in which each saint is becoming “conformed” practically, in his daily life, is largely determined by his response to our Lord’s word “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.”[1]

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

[1] Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1949), 227.