The Vice of Detraction

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Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Brothers & Sisters, I hope your Lord’s Day had been blessed so far and that you and those under your care do well in the keeping of this day unto the Lord. May we fight against the temptations of this day. As I am at home and keeping my sick toddler and newborn while Ms. G attends services without 2 of my wild ones, I am reading through James Durham in his Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments (RHB & Naphtali Press, pg. 244-245). I am in the chapter dealing with the 5th commandment,

Below is a very brief part dealing with how we can break this command through Detraction. This is a section I had to say “Amen” AND “Woe is me”.

Detraction, a vice whereby men under-handedly whisper what may be to the dishonor of another, even though it be a truth; using insinuations and such a manner of seeming respect to the detracted, as may make the blot and infamy to stick. As when many commendations are given a man, not out of respect to him, but to make some reproach cast upon him go down the better and be the more easily believed, as coming from such a one who respects and loves the man; as, ‘he is discreet’, ‘of great parts’, etc., ‘But’;by which ‘But’ all is overturned.
 
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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Would it not be hard though to criticise someone without speaking in that manner? I suppose it depends on whether or not one is using a "but" merely to highlight one fault or is using it as a pretext to tear down the person's character as a whole.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Would it not be hard though to criticise someone without speaking in that manner? I suppose it depends on whether or not one is using a "but" merely to highlight one fault or is using it as a pretext to tear down the person's character as a whole.
I agree, this can be done in the right way. ‘But’ :), I think I far to often fail in sneaking in slander under the veil of ‘he is such a great guy’. And further I have done this to puff myself up. Criticism can and should be done but it is and should be hard to do rightly (without sin). I think this stems from us generally being more prone to criticism and giving more weight to the bad over and above the good. This too takes a balance. For example, King David really messed up, but he is remembered for his good. King Joash started out well, but in the end was not buried with the Kings.

This has been fitting with much of what I have been reading from Matthew Henry speaking to the various cycles of faithfulness and rebellion of kings in 2 Chronicles. An example is at the end of his commentary on 2 Chronicles 16 regarding King Asa and his burial:

Note, The eminent piety and usefulness of good men ought to be remembered to their praise, though they have had their blemishes. Let their faults be buried in their graves, while their services are remembered over their graves. He that said, There is not a just man that doeth good and sinneth not, yet said also, The memory of the just is blessed; and let it be so.
 
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jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I agree, this can be done in the right way. ‘But’ :), I think I far to often fail in sneaking in slander under the veil of ‘he is such a great guy’. And further I have done this to puff myself up. Criticism can and should be done but it is and should be hard to do rightly (without sin). I think this stems from us generally being more prone to criticism and giving more weight to the bad over and above the good. This too takes a balance. For example, King David really messed up, but he is remembered for his good. King Joash started out well, but in the end was not buried with the Kings.

This has been fitting with much of what I have been reading from Matthew Henry speaking to the various cycles of faithfulness and rebellion of kings in 2 Chronicles. An example is at the end of his commentary on 2 Chronicles 16 regarding King Asa and his burial:
I think only wisdom leads to this. Part of wisdom is saying the wrong thing and learning from it. Since we are not omniscient we need to mess up to learn wisdom. "But" we should be mindful of puffing someone up only to tear them down in front of others as wrong. As a lifelong southerner I'm reminded of the abused phrase "bless their heart" usually preceding or following an insult to someone.
 
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