By Dan Williams
"It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" - 3 John 1:3-4
While attending a conference at Harding University last March I ran into someone from another city who recognized me, came over, and made a point of telling me about a young lady who grew up in this church family who was now a member of his congregation. He could not say enough good things about this young lady and her faithful service to God.
When I returned to El Dorado I promptly passed along his comments to the young lady's parents, who were understandably gratified to receive this positive report.
Not long after that two of our members separately came to me to relay comments that were made about our congregation by people in our community. One of our members told me she was working in a shop downtown when one of her customers asked:
"Do they teach about loving one another out of the pulpit there at College Avenue? That is one of the most loving churches I know anywhere. And another thing: you always have so many people there on Wednesday nights. What are you folks doing?"
Another of our members passed along this comment she heard from one of our worship guests:
"I have visited a lot of churches, and your church shows more love than any other place I have ever visited. I can tell you really are a family here."
In both cases these individuals were eager to pass on what they had heard. Receiving those positive reports caused me to reflect. There is a saying, "Bad news travels fast," but why only bad? Why can't we be as eager to pass along, and to receive, positive comments we have overheard? Can there be such a thing as "good gossip"?
Some Christians may be reluctant to repeat good reports about their brothers because they are afraid of making them proud or of causing others to be jealous. The apostle John, however, was glad to brag on Demetrius, saying he "is well spoken of by everyone - and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true" – 3 John 1:12
The Bible urges us to speak an encouraging word to our brothers and sisters (Ephesians 4:29; Proverbs 12:25) and yet all too often we wait until someone is dead before we openly commend their good qualities. I am reminded of the wry observation of humorist Garrison Keillor: "They say such nice things about people at their funerals that it makes me sad to realize that I'm going to miss mine by just a few days."
So go ahead and "gossip" – good gossip! When you know something good about your
brother, pass it along. If you appreciate someone, tell them so. As the old poem says:
If with pleasure you are viewing
Any work a brother's doing;
If you like him or you love him,
Tell him now!
Don't withhold your approbation
Till the parson's grave oration
As he lies with snowy lilies
O'er his brow.
Makes no matter how you shout it
He won't really care about it -
He won't know how many teardrops
You have shed.
More than fame and more than money
Is the comment, kind and sunny,
And the unmistaken handshake
Of a friend.
If you think some praise is due him
Now's the time to tell it to him -
For he cannot read his tombstone
Once he's dead.
- Dan Williams, El Dorado, Arkansas; via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY. Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com