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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

31 October 2008

A Joke ... or Not

From the Archives

Q: How many pastors does it take to change a light bulb?

Pastor and Light BulbA: Only one. Any more than that and they’ll start comparing congregations and never get around to the job.

I didn’t say that all the questions would be weighty and theological. But this query does lead to consideration of what brings the chuckle — gossip. Unfortunately, the clergy are not immune to this or other sins. Neither is anyone else. The setup could have said “doctors,” “plumbers,” “teachers,” etc. The comparisons would be of “patients,” “customers,” “students,” and so on. Loose tongues are so prevalent that we scarcely notice their wagging.

The James 3 throws a harsh light on wagging tongues. For example, “the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (vv. 5-6)” Not only does gossip tear down those to whom it’s directed; it also lowers the participants. As the wartime proverb says: “Loose lips sink ships.” Loose lips can also destroy trust and sink friendships. Thanks be to God, the Savior who had forgiving words to answer the hateful words of His killers also has forgiveness for us who speak ill of others.

Subsequent columns discussing this topic include Gossip and Rotten Fruit from Gossip’s Vine.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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