Truth confronts, never trashes, anyone else

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Trash talk. Don’t you love it? It adds so much to the day … energizes the spirit, makes you feel so good, whether you’re on the dishing or receiving end.

I rode the train to Minnesota last week to bring back a set of grands — a trio of two brothers and a sister. That first day home was trash talk overflow. It’s not easy being a girl in the middle. But I could see how the sister and brothers fed off each other once they got going.

The zingers were like arrows flying back and forth. Who could outshoot the other? Who could stick the most garbage — maybe even score a bull’s eye? The teen brother said of the adolescent sister, “If she’d only leave me alone I wouldn’t do anything.” His sister retorted, “He won’t stop till he makes me mad.”

Any of this sound familiar? It should. We’ve got trash talk flying through the air every day — in government, on television, in print, and in music. I don’t know where you go to get away from it. Sometimes even retreating to a solitary corner doesn’t help. Because we trash talk ourselves, too.

Long ago Jesus spoke a truth that often passes us by. He said, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him (in that day there was controversy over what to eat and how to eat it); but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.” When His followers wanted an explanation He answered, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts….” He goes on to list exactly what those are — the final four being envy, slander, pride and foolishness.

Slander is defined as “the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which damages another person’s reputation.” Trash talk usually crosses this line. Like a landfill site, it just piles higher and higher with each visit.

Truth needs to be spoken. It confronts. But truth doesn’t trash others.

There is much in today’s conversation about cleaning up our outer environment — but so little talk about ourselves — and creating clean air on the inside.

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