the occasion of joy

“… it must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him. … to speak about a brother covertly is forbidden, even under the cloak of help and good will; for it is precisely in this guise that the spirit of hatred among brothers always creeps in when it is seeking to create mischief. … the limitations upon this rule in particular cases … must be a matter of decision in each instance. The point, however, is clear and Biblical (Psalm 50:20-21; James 4:11; Eph. 4:29).

“Where this discipline of the tongue is practiced right from the beginning, each individual will make a matchless discovery. He will be able to cease from constantly scrutinizing the other person, judging him, condemning him, putting him in his particular place where he gain ascendancy over him and thus doing violence to him as a person. Now he can allow the brother to exist as a completely free person, as God made him to be.

“God did not make this person as I would have made him. He did not give him to me as a  brother for me to dominate and control, but in order that I might find above him the  Creator.

“Now, the other person, in the freedom with which he was created, becomes the occasion of joy, whereas before he was only a nuisance and an affliction.”

Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Harper & Row, 1954), pp.92-93.

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