40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Thursday, September 5, 2013

Day 34

Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be verbalized. It is certain that the spirit of self-justification can only be overcome by the spirit of grace; and it is just as certain that the individual judgmental thought can be limited and suppressed by never allowing it to be spoken except as a confession of sin…. Thus it must be a decisive rule of all Christian community life that each individual is prohibited from talking about another Christian in secret. It is clear and will be shown in what follows that this prohibition does not include the word of admonition that is spoken personally to one another. However, talking about others in secret is not allowed even under the pretense of help and goodwill. For it is precisely in this guise that the spirit of hatred between believers always creeps in, seeking to cause trouble.

Biblical Wisdom

Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Questions to Ponder

  • Talking with people about someone else you are having trouble with when they are not there is called “triangulation.” In what ways does triangulation harm a community of faith?
  • How can a community of faith enforce the rule “that each individual is prohibited from talking about another Christian in secret”?
  • Would this be a good rule to generalize and apply to the workplace, school, families, among friends? Why, or why not?

Psalm Fragment

Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord;
   keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not turn my heart to any evil,
   to busy myself with wicked deeds
   in company with those who work iniquity…. Psalm 141:3-4

Journal Reflections

  • Have you ever experienced being triangulated․being talked about negatively when you where not there? If so, write about the experience. How did it feel?
  • Have you ever engaged in triangulation? If so, write about the experience. How did it feel?

Prayer for Today

Spirit of love, may the words I speak be the kind that build people up.

40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.

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