. . . Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. James 4:11b
Back when I was in the parish, one of the easiest lines for confirmands to memorize came from the eighth commandment. Nobody seemed to have a problem remembering the line, "and put the best construction on everything."
That's what James was talking about many centuries ago. He wanted us to know one of our jobs as Christians was to refrain from gossip.
That's what James said, but the creators of Unvarnished think they have a different job.
While you may not have heard of Unvarnished, you probably will. Unvarnished is a Web site which allows people to say something about somebody else -- make that say anything about anybody else.
If you don't like your boss, you can talk about him on Unvarnished.
If you think you've been treated poorly by your doctor or dentist or pastor, you can say what you want about him or her on Unvarnished.
It gets worse. Unvarnished lets you say what you want to say anonymously. Nobody can trace your words to you. And I'm still not done. You can say what you want and there's no way what you've said can be removed from the site.
Unvarnished let's every sinner throw the first stone at somebody else; it lets anybody -- everybody -- become the arresting officer, prosecutor, judge, and jury on someone else's reputation. True, you can compliment somebody on Unvarnished, but most people don't write compliments, do they?
Most of the time folks would rather dish out the gossip; most of the time they prefer to hear bad, rather than good.
You know that's frightening to me. When Jesus walked the earth -- even though He was perfect -- people told all kinds of lies about Him. They said the Savior was connected with the devil, that He was an insurrectionist, a blasphemer, a liar.
Christians know Jesus was none of those things. He was the Son of God sent on the mission of giving Himself as the ransom for our sinful souls. His work, completed on Calvary's cross and proven at the empty tomb, is God's plan which gives us forgiveness and an eternity in heaven.
In thanks to the Lord who gave Himself for us, let us try to follow James' request and refrain from speaking evil about others.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, although we are sinners in thought, word, and deed, You still loved us enough to enter the world and give Your life to save mine. Now may I, forgiven by Your great sacrifice, speak well of others. May my words and my life be an unvarnished witness to what You have done on the cross and at the empty tomb. In Your Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries