October 4, 2011

Spiritual Disciplines XVII: Secrecy and Confidentiality

Maintain Confidences In A Biblical Manner

If someone has confided in my they can trust me to keep it to myself. I learned a long time ago that to betray someone’s trust destroys a relationship. There can be no proper relationship when truth and loyalty is not involved. Distrust and dishonesty produce a divided loyalty. The receiver knows unquestionably that do matter what there is the potential that what they are hearing from a duplicitous person is subject to doubt which adds stress and cynicism. This is no way to have a relationship with anyone. If you have given a word of silence maintain it at all cost. If not you will be viewed as treacherous. The Bible at its very core tells us to love the Lord God with all our heart, soul and minds and love our neighbors as ourselves. If we love our neighbor who should be anyone as ourselves I need to ask only one question. Do you or should you lie to yourself? And while I'm at it, can you lie to yourself? I would say yes...its called denial. You therefore can lose trust and confidence in yourself too if you do not live in a Biblical manner.

Secrecy Negates A Need For Approval From Others

If people do not know what is of importance to you they cannot congratulate you for something or give you accolades and attention. In other worlds if it means the world to you to get attention for doing a good deed don’t bother telling anyone that fact and you will virtually go along unnoticed. This in turn will curb the addiction to attention you so greatly crave. Secrecy only allows the “secret” or “punch-line” between you and God. You really should be doing things for the approval of other people anyway. In the end they cannot win you access into the Kingdom and in the end it is an issue solely between you and God anyway. This is why we hear this from Jesus in the Sermon on The Mount, “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:5-6

Secrets God Said To Me

It’s a secret. I can't tell you!

Knowing When To Speak and When To Shut-up

When I learn something, especially when it is about God I feel I should not be holding it to myself. The knowledge of the divine is too precious to hold closely to my chest. At the same time I need to be careful to think through all the logical implications of what I have learned. What I have learned in my theology classes is that there is so much to learn about God at times that, if we do not think logically through some of what we have been taught that is incorrect we will never realize that some of what we have been taught is wrong. Whether intentionally wrong or wrong because of honestly held beliefs but misguided honestly held beliefs, we may inadvertently disseminate or spread errant doctrine or flawed logic. To me this is no different than the Devil misusing Scripture to tempt Eve or try and haggle with Jesus in the temptation. It does not matter to me if the error is spread with good intention or bad intention…error is error. As a leader in ministry, which I believe God is leading me to be, I cannot allow this error to propagate. This is especially true if it is not Biblical. If it isn’t Biblical…it’s potentially damning and most probably heretical. I need to be exceptionally discerning even if it means erring on the side of being too dogmatic at times.

Praying Publicly Without Permission

To use a pray in public to embarrass people out of their sins is inappropriate, damaging and frankly demeaning. To do something like praying for a person’s addiction to porn in front of everyone unexpectedly and without permission runs the risk of driving off the person permanently. There are ways to help people overcome entrenched sin and “outing” them in front of people publically without at least trying privately is not understanding or compassionate for the person struggling with the sin. Unfortunately, we see this in many churches hammering on certain societal groups clearly drowning in their sin without ever once reaching a hand of assistance out to them.

You Need To Pray & Fellowship In Trust

How often do you hear this in group prayer?

"Yes Lord, please help So-and-so in his battle in PORN-OG-RAPHY!!!" or "...HIS WAN-DER-ING EYE!!" (like they were three distinct words). You then look up to see the person in question three shades darker than crimson and glaring at the person that said the prayer.

In these situations, sensibleness, understanding of human weakness and mature discretion are paramount. Most sensible people that are cognizant of their surroundings and understand people can read the situation and the people to know the proper time and method to deal with a person’s sin. To some extent you have to be a people person and have a kind heart. Someone without “social graces” shouldn’t be the one to help So-and-so with his entrenched sin of pornography. It is the pastoral or ministerial equivilent of a "bedside manner" when doctors don't have it they might consider not becoming doctors. When spiritual people do not have "social graces" they might want to consider another aspect of ministry besides "comforting". Dealing with peoples sins in this manner is akin to the way Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar and Elihu "helped" Job. Which is to say they may have been better off shutting up and zipping their lip.

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