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Fall is here, and October is bringing incredible beauty that I am grateful to enjoy together with you. As this week closed I was struck by a simple, yet powerful picture of God’s kindness, faithfulness, and ability to unite His people. One was a call I received from the folks at North Idaho Christian School, letting us know they were praying for us and asking how they could better do so.  We have separate communities and jobs to do, but our missions are parallel, and it’s great to have neighbors running alongside us. While over and over again we are hearing about and seeing with our own eyes the deepening divisions in our country and even in the church, we find in Christ alone the riches of diversity and unity at the same time. The bonds of peace among God’s people matter a great deal, and any time we can catch a glimpse of that at work, we will be blessed.

What a contrast to the verse we looked at last week, in which the nations were seeking to cast off the bonds of the Lord and His Anointed (Psalm 2). Our bond is the bond of love–why should we want to cast that off? And yet the Enemy seeks to divide us internally, and hardly anything is more effective than gossip and talebearing to do so. The book of Proverbs mentions the term “talebearer” five times, and they’re all negative. A talebearer “reveals secrets” (11:13); presents news that tempts us to digest gossip deep down, like “tasty trifles” (18:8 and 26:22); “flatters with the lips” (20:19); and keeps the fires of strife burning (26:20). In Leviticus, we are commanded, “You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people, nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor. I am the Lord” (19:16). As relational beings, made in the image of God, we naturally want to feel connected, and we love to hear about and share in the joy and news of others. The deceptive lure of the talebearer’s news is an offering of relational connection with one person (the talebearer) at the expense of another (the subject of the news). What has the appearance of drawing us closer together has the effect of tearing us apart, and it can often feel good and tasty in the moment, or even important to show sympathy and comfort to the hurting. In the end, it always takes wisdom, which only the Lord can provide (though he willingly does so), to navigate the complexities of sharing our lives and stories together in community. But you will be blessed to not receive a bad report about someone else, and you’ll be a blessing if you send someone with a grievance back to the source first. There’s always another side to the story. Your part in it may be redirecting the hurting side back for reconciliation, and we owe it to our brothers and sisters on both sides of the story to think and believe the best, for that is exactly what love does for us (1 Cor. 13:7). Christ’s forgiveness and mercy are greater by far than our sins and griefs, but finding healing requires humility, and every time we try to find a back door around a problem we have with our neighbors, we just end up trampling more of their flowerbeds. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). God has given us authority and power to bring our burdens to him and to guard the hearts and reputations of our brothers and sisters, and He loves to work in tough situations. So be encouraged, even when it’s hard, knowing that His “yoke is easy” and His “burden is light” (Matt. 11:30).

In Christ,
Bill Stutzman