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Prayer Group



Question: At our Prayer Group we, from time to time, talk about other peoples' habits, character or needs. It makes me uncomfortable. As Christian I know we need to be concerned for others, but is it right to discuss them as if they're some kind of project we might take on? Too often it comes across as "I'm better than they are!" Where is the fine line between Christian concern and gossip?

Answer:This sensitive issue needs to be faced. It comes down to, "Will we crucify, or resurrect?" A very timely question at Easter! A sincere concern raised by one can soon turn into a passing of judgment by others. We do not like to help someone who is the source of their own misery. However, Jesus says, "Do not judge or condemn others, and God will not judge or condemn you" (Luke 6:37). We don't know what circumstances have led them to do or say or live as they do. What is needed is compassion and a helping hand, not our Pharisaic self-righteousness. Life is challenging enough without heaping scorn on someone. Jesus' brother James charges us to be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry, and to not just listen to God's word, but put it into practice (1:19,22). Talk is cheap. Faith without works is dead. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Let me suggest some steps to take when someone is presented as a prayer concern or a "project"?

  • Call on everyone to keep things confidential;

  • Pray together for the person(s), and call the group to compassion, not judgment;

  • Designate one of the group to go and see them and offer any help they may need;

  • Love them unconditionally—put them at ease; let your genuine concern show;

  • If it is no more than gossip, interject and change the subject—they'll soon catch on. None of us would like to be the topic of gossip. We only have the right to judge ourselves, no one else, and the standard we are given is Jesus, who invites: "Follow (i.e. be like) me". Gossip and Phariseeism should always be discouraged.

A worker who was asked to lie ("Tell him I'm out") over the phone, handed the phone to his boss and said "You tell him". In response to the boss' anger he said, "If I can lie for you, I can lie to you". This person became the most trusted worker in the company. If you take the same approach to gossip as this, the kingdom of God will grow, and not be disgraced. Your prayer partners need to be lifted above this worldly way of treating others. Please rise to the opportunity to help turn gossip into servants of Christ and give them and their subjects new life.

As Christians "We are a resurrection people, and Alleluia is our Song!" When we begin to relish crucifying others, we do the cause of Christ great, needless harm.

Rev. Rudy Plug pastors in Barrie, Ontario.

Used with permission, Fellowship Magazine, www.fellowshipmagazine.org

 

 
 
 
 

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