verbal self-control

I like Father Michael Pfleger, or at least I liked him back when I was executive producer at WCFC-TV in Chicago and he was a frequent guest on the talk show “Among Friends”.  Back then, he was a white priest ministering in a predominantly black part of Chicago and seeing many lives changed. His words were of hope and love for the oppressed, and he was about drawing people of all races and backgrounds to the love of Christ.  Obviously something’s changed.

His now infamous tirade about Hillary’s entitlement to the Democratic nomination has placed him right up there beside Rev. Jeremiah Wright as racist hate-mongers abusing and misusing the pulpit.  Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, has asked Father Pfleger to temporarily step back from his obligations at St. Sabina’s Parish to reflect on his recent statements.  The statement that Father Pfleger has issued in response sounds sincere, but how much better if we hadn’t gotten to this point.

Once again, the church gives us a case study in management and ethics. Get out your notebooks.

Kudos to the Cardinal. He responded quickly and reasonably, and showed that he and the Church would not condone this type of ministerial mayhem.  And kudos to the press who kept watch on Trinity United Church of Christ even after the departure of Rev. Wright and Obama’s membership resignation.  [lesson: if you are in management, respond quickly and reasonably, and buy yourself some time to decide what more you should do]

Now for a bit of life application… you, like Jeremiah Wright and Michael Pfleger, are a walking, talking, living, breathing example of Christ. (Their vision of Christ is likely very different than yours, but to the non-believing world, we are all lumped together as Christians.)  So act and speak carefully, both the world — and Christ — are watching.

Read the book of James. It’s short, only five chapters. First just read it. Then go back and read it again, this time underline every thing he says about the tongue, speaking, mouth, your words, and then list everything that you have learned about what James had to say (inspired by the Holy Spirit of God) about what you say. Finally put it into practice.  (this is a mini-course in Inductive Bible Study).

Here’s a little something from that study Brother Pfleger should have kept in mind, it comes from James’ letter, chapter 1 and verse 26: 

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

And in Father Pfleger’s case that’s a real shame,  because his ministry to the oppressed is proof that he has a good grasp on the next verse:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

The lesson… watch your mouth. Your good works can easily be undone by bad words.


Posted on June 4, 2008 in Uncategorized

Share this post with a friend, simply click a social media icon!

Response (1)

  1. Douglas Bamlett
    June 19, 2008 at 11:28 pm ·

    A great and wonderful friend of mine once said that the things you do to cover up your sins are worse than the sin itself.

    I don’ t know whether that is true or not in God’s eyes but it makes an interesting point because what we do to cover our sins proves that we know that our actions were wrong — or we’d not be trying to cover anything up.

    I could not help but notice Pflegers comment in his apology (immediately following)…

    [But this was a new level, when the world is meeting you for the first time from a dramatization in a sermon that I felt was in the sacredness of a sanctuary, among people who know me and then find a “Youtube” that in no way defines the sermon or the message that I preached, nor the person or pastor that I am. It is painful and shattering.]

    … and yet in his comment during the “infamous” sermon he clearly says that the live feed was just cut. He was obviously aware that there was a live feed. Therefore it raises the question in his apology whether he was being truthful. How could he on the one hand say that he thought he was preaching in the “sacred” environment of a sanctuary of people that know him when he clearly had knowledge of a live feed?

    I cannot judge the situation without hearing an explanation from him how those two things could both be true and so seemingly contradictory — but my thinking is that I don’t have a right to accuse him of anything — ANYMORE than he has the right to accuse Hillary of motives he cannot prove. In his apology he seems to spend a lot more time explaining why he was not wrong — than admitting it was wrong. Again I don’t have the right to judge his heart on that issue because I don’t have the right to judge the heart of another man. Only God can do that.

    Christians often forget that the world has confused motives and actions. Often we do just like they do and presume to judge another man’s heart (motives). When we do this we are actually projecting what our motives were in a similar situation and have jumped to the conclusion that our motives are a valid reference for judging the motives of another.

    When we do that we only project our sin onto someone else — thus fulfilling the scripture in Romans 2: 1-2. “That sin which you judge another for you commit yourself”. We simultaneously bring ourselves under the authority of Christs command “judge not less you be judged… by the same measure (of judgment) you mete out it is measured back to you.”

    When will the strength of Christianity rise? Probably when we mature enough to leave the judging of peoples motives to God. Christ teaches us to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us”.

    Do we really want others to judge our motives by our actions? If not we must stop judging the motives of others by their actions. If we catch someone lying, stealing, committing adultery we can scripturally judge the actions — if we have proof — but we cannot scripturally judge motives because we cannot prove what is in anyones heart sufficiently to meet God’s standards of justice and mercy.

Back to Top