Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bertha Betternyou: Concerned Sister or Outright Gossip?

If you have ever listened to Ray Stevens' music from the 1980's, chances are you know who Bertha Betternyou is. Sadly, for many outside the church, Bertha is the go to gal when summoning an image of a typical Christian. Sister Bertha sits all prim and proper, can quote scripture all day long and knows the secrets of many around her. Turns out though, that Bertha has a few sins of her own.

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Photo credit: Photobucket

Do you remember the parable of the Pharisee and the publican (tax collector)? It's found in Luke 18:9-14. In short, both men went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee was boastful in his prayer: He wasn't like others, especially like that publican over there. He even reminded God and anyone who might be in earshot that he tithed, fasted, and otherwise outshone others. To put it bluntly, meet Bertha's Brother Benjamin. 

The publican, on the other hand, wouldn't even look up. Instead he smote his breast and said "Lord forgive me, a sinner."

The ultimate goal of a Christian is to become more Christlike. From the moment we obey the gospel and step out of the watery grave of baptism, we are a new person. From then on we continually try to walk in Jesus' foot steps and teach others along the way, by word and deed. Sometimes though, in our zeal to be Christlike, we look around at others... and become a little more like Bertha than we would really like to be. 

Brother Tom thinks its okay to have an occasional glass of wine. Sister Colleen and her kids use the curse word knock offs (dang, heck, crap, you get the picture). And did you see how short the Davies' daughter's skirt was? And with him a shepherd of the church! Honestly, you'd think they'd have taught that girl better.  Wait. Why are we discussing their sins or shortcomings as though we have none of our own? 
First of all, if any of us, and this includes me, has a concern about a brother or sister's behavior, words or whatever, we are instructed to go to the person privately and in love (Matthew 18:15-17). Those verses tell us exactly how we are to handle a problem, so why do so many of us think its our duty to discuss the situation with others first?

It shouldn't matter who the brother or sister is, whether he be an elder, or she the preacher's wife, or if the person happens to be a celebrity of sorts. I know if I am wrong, I want someone to come talk to me privately first. I may cry or otherwise get upset, but I will be okay with it. As well meaning as others are who are concerned, I can't make it to heaven on someone's coat tail. If it's my behavior that needs to change, I'm the one who needs to be spoken to first.  If you can't speak to me in person, write me a letter. In other words, we should be building up one another, not tearing each other down with our concern. I for one have to change this habit.

1 comment:

  1. This is so good, Dottie. Sometimes we say we can be guilty of speaking of things we shouldn't just on the pretense of "I'm just saying this so you could pray for them." You have brought out some good things from God's word here.