“I can keep a confidence. It’s the people I tell it to who can’t.” – Unknown

I hardly ever promise to keep a confidence before I hear the story. I may promise to keep one after I hear the story, and I do keep the confidence. Idetermine which ones I keep, not the person who shares it with me. This lack of promise is not the same as gossip, although it could be gossip.

We are required to speak to the assembled believers if someone is unrepentant. The assembled believers are to take action on the unrepentant believer (Matthew 18). If I promise to keep the information secret, I might hobble myself so that I cannot obey God and tell the church.

Many years ago, a professional person came to see me. I did not know him, although I knew of him. He wished to tell me something awful about a friend we had in common, but first he wanted me to promise to keep it confidential. I told him that I did not make those kinds of promises. He was astounded. Wasn’t I a minister of the gospel? Didn’t I have to keep confidences? I told him yes, but I determined which ones I kept after I heard the story.

“Then I cannot tell you.”

“That is alright with me. I do not need to know.”

He kept repeating that he could not tell me if I would not promise ahead of time, and I kept telling him that was alright. Each time he got angrier. Finally, he left in hysterical anger, slamming the door behind him. In anger he told someone else what an idiot I was. This opened that person’s eyes about the angry man’s character. I never did find out about the evils he wanted to tell me.

That is the best way.

*Excerpted from Being Christian. To purchase, visit ccmbooks.org/bookstore