"So you'll never hear one of us repeating gossip, so you better be sure and listen close the first time."
That line was taken from an old "Hee-Haw" skit, in which the women were attending to tasks and telling each other the details of "things" going on in people's lives. If the Fifth Commandment is the greatest weakness among men (lust), then the Eighth Commandment is certainly possibly the most violated commandment among all of us. "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor," the commandment reads.
I found it interesting one day when I heard someone speaking about someone else. Someone else noted he may be gossiping and he said, "If it's true, it's not gossip." Interesting spin used to justify the act. We have developed sophisticated logic to justify ourselves in such situations, but Luther is very clear in the catechism. Aside from lying about or to our neighbor (the clear forbidden action in this commandment) Luther writes this, "God forbids us to betray our neighbor, that is, to reveal our neighbor's secrets, and God forbids us to slander our neighbor or hurt our neighbor's reputation." We are told specifically in scripture to speak directly to our neighbor in those times when we may have issues, such as Matthew 18, "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone." James 4 also tells us, "Do not speak evil against one another, brothers." Finally, in Luke 6, Christ says, "Judge not, and you will not be judged. Condemn not, and you will not be condemned."
So, true or false, fact or fiction, the Eighth Commandment is fairly clear on what we share about someone. Luther says that when we speak of someone, we should put the best construct on it. We should build up our neighbor, and we should put the best meaning on everything. In short, that old adage we all learn holds true, "If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all."
Paul says it this way, and this is our prayer: "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (1 Corinthians 13:7) That is our prayer, to love one another in all we say or do.
Hope Men's Ministry