As we continue to work out our faith during the summer, here is a convicting and challenging reminder by the legendary Chuck Swindoll about an essential part of Christian maturity. There are lots of Christians who are expert in giving a good “Christian” show to people and to the public, but are loose on the inside in matters of personal honesty and integrity; and yet this is exactly where the Lord’s pulse is with respect to evaluating how we’re really doing (on the inside, where no one else but God is watching).
There are lots of apropos applications and self-confrontations for us to make after reading this – and probably with other people – but let’s start with ourselves and work it, ok? – Arthur
“3 Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips. 4 Don’t let me drift toward evil or take part in acts of wickedness. Don’t let me share in the delicacies of those who do wrong.” Psalm 141:3-4
Can you keep a secret?
Can you? Be honest, now. When privileged information passes through one of the gates of your senses, does it remain within the walls of your mind? Or is it only a matter of time before a leak occurs? When the grapevine requests your attention from time to time, do you refuse to help it climb higher, or do you encourage its rapid growth, fertilizing it by your wagging, unguarded tongue? When someone says, “Now this is confidential,” do you respect their trust or ignore it . . . either instantly or ultimately?
The longer I live, the more I realize the scarcity of people who can be fully trusted with confidential information. The longer I live, the more I value those rare souls who fall into that category! As a matter of fact, if I were asked to list the essential characteristics that should be found in any member of a church staff or officer on a church board . . . the ability to maintain confidences would rank very near the top. No leader deserves the respect of the people if he or she cannot restrain information that is shared in private.
Our minds might be compared to a cemetery, filled with graves that refuse to be opened. The information, no matter how juicy or dry, must rest in peace in its coffin, sealed in silence beneath the epitaph “Shared in confidence—Kept in confidence.”
You and I wouldn’t give a plugged nickel for a doctor who ran off at the mouth. The same applies to a minister or an attorney or a counselor or a judge or a teacher or a secretary . . . or a close, trusted friend for that matter. No business ever grows and remains strong unless those in leadership are people of confidence. No school maintains public respect without an administration and faculty committed to the mutual guarding of one another’s worlds. When leaks occur, it is often a sign of character weakness, and action is usually taken to discover the person who has allowed his or her mental coffin to be exhumed and examined.
Information is powerful. The person who receives it and dispenses it bit by bit often does it so that others might be impressed because he or she is “in the know.” Few things are more satisfying to the old ego than having others stare wide-eyed, drop open the jaw, and say, “My, I didn’t know that!” or “Why, that’s hard to believe!” or “How in the world did you find that out?”
Solomon writes strong and wise words concerning this subject in Proverbs. Listen to his counsel:
Wise men store up knowledge,
But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand. (10:14)
When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise. (10:19)
He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets,
But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter. (11:13)
The one who guards his mouth preserves his life;
The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. (13:3)
He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets,
Therefore do not associate with a gossip. (20:19)
Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot
Is confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble.
Like a city that is broken into and without walls
Is a man who has no control over his spirit. (25:28)
From now on, let’s establish four practical ground rules:
- Whatever you’re told in confidence, do not repeat.
- Whenever you’re tempted to talk, do not yield.
- Whenever you’re discussing people, do not gossip.
- However you’re prone to disagree, do not slander.
Honestly now, can you keep a secret? Prove it.