Have you ever heard someone talk about someone else in a bold, brash, and sometimes careless manner when that person is not present? I don’t know about you, but this gets under my skin.
The African proverb “What is said over a dead lion’s body could not be said when he is alive” comes to my mind in such circumstances.
Those who do not have the courage to stand up to others will often talk big and boastfully when they believe they have no danger of facing the person they are talking about. This is especially true when it comes to confronting someone who intimidates you, intentionally or not, by his or her presence. It is easier to talk about what you should have done and speak of it as having been done if there is no obvious opportunity to do it.
We often hear people brashly declare what they would do if “so and so” were right in front of them. However, if the person shows up on the scene, the big talk disappears.
When we talk about what we “would do” if given the opportunity, we need to carefully ask ourselves if we are speaking truthfully or just engaging in unnecessary “chest-pounding.”
No, we aren’t talking about “dead lions” but we aren’t talking about dead people either. We need to speak about people as if they are present. We should be willing to speak truth, but it must be done in love and kindness. Scripture gives solid exhortations to guide us when we talk about others. Lord, teach us to confront one another compassionately and to avoid gossip and proud boasting.
Proverbs 16:28—A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.
Ephesians 4:15-16—Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Philippians 4:8—Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
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