Peter Graves, star of the Mission Impossible TV show of the late 60s and early 70s died recently. One of his co-stars, Martin Landau, said of Graves, “What impressed me most about him was that I never heard him say a bad word about anyone he encountered.” Wow! What a eulogy in one sentence! I’m wondering… Will they be able to say that of you and me when we pass? Could it be our epitaph?
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” is one of the lessons we were taught in kindergarten, if not before. I suspect most of us could use a refresher course! It’s likely that the conversations we’ve had recently with family, friends, people at work, and with those in our church would be enough to make the late Peter Graves blush! After all, a lot of mud gets slung around the water cooler, and the grape vine is often heavily blighted with things repeated that would better be left unsaid.
But aren’t there times when we can and should share our frustrations about others? Yes. Sometimes we have to share our struggles concerning a certain person, but we should do so with a trusted confidant who can help us process our frustration in a positive way so we can better cope with the “offending” person. Most of the time, however, our criticism of someone to someone else serves no good purpose. We do so only because it feels good, in a perverse sort of way.
The word for this inappropriate personal critiquing is called slander and is not portrayed in a positive light in the Biblical texts! I for one want to take more seriously what the apostle Peter wrote some 2,000 years ago because it’s as relevant today as the day he wrote it. “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” (1 Peter 2:1)
I’ve known some people like Peter Graves, people who I can’t recall ever saying anything bad about others. I also know that they’re the kind of people I like to be around because they’re more happy and positive, and because when I’m not around them I know they aren’t saying bad things about me! I want to be more like them. You too? It might seem like a mission that’s impossible, but not with the good Lord’s help and our own good intentions!