Most of the time we think that a tattletale is a bad thing. We tell our children not to tattle. We tell them that nobody likes a tattletale. (As if having people like us is an appropriate motivation.) And we even have little punishments for a tattletale. But, have you ever thought that there is a good side of being a tattletale, a good time for someone to tattle?
The Good Side of Tattling: In any given group because of our sin natures, someone is always trying to get away with something. In some instances, it is pretty harmless stuff. But in other instances, they are trying to get away with picking on others, with being deceitful, with stealing from others, with gossiping, and worse. Even in churches, adults can be the ones trying to do things behind the leaders’ backs. Finally, after much damage has been done behind the scenes, these things come out.
How much easier it is to deal with a problem when it is small; when it can be nipped in the bud, so to speak. If someone had come forward in confidence to say, “Pastor, you may already know this, but did you know that _____ is saying cruel things about another sister/brother in the body?” Then I could have worked to put a stop to the slander and unkindness. We could have worked out a plan to catch and confront the wrong doer without giving away the person who revealed the meanness.
Darkness Protects the Evil Doer. Over the years I have observed that squashing any and all “tattling” ends up protecting and enabling the person in sin. Ephesians 5:11 commands us: “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them…” and 5:13 adds, “But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light,” We need to take advantage of the “Cockroach Syndrome.” You know, how those little buggers scurry into hiding when the lights come on?
In Lauds our children are taught how to deal with fellow students who are annoying them or doing something wrong: “Love covers or love confronts.” We encourage children to have forbearance, putting up with minor annoyances. We also train them to confront their peers on bigger issues. But maybe we need to teach a third action: Love Reveals. Love reveals to those in authority when someone won’t listen to confrontation or when one observes the same meanness or unkindness continue day after day. 
 
But isn’t there a bad side to being a tattletale? When not to tattle: 
  • Playing “teacher” over all of the little rules. Students learn the rules and feel that everyone needs to toe the line. The child becomes the rule keeper instead of leaving things to the real teacher. Also, the child who tells the teacher over every little thing will be ignored when something major needs to be reported.
  • Trying to look good and increase status with those in authority — “I’m the good kid.”
  • Trying to get revenge — Some children want to get back at another child, so they tell on that child.
  • Being a false witness — The Bible strongly condemns telling tales on others when what is passed along is untrue or exaggerated to make the other person look bad. Often this happens when two children get in trouble and a child (yes, even one of our dear ones) tries to shift the blame and minimize his/her own role to escape consequences.
Often children will not be a Revealer out of fear. The wrong doer won’t like me or will be mad at me. We need to let our children know that this may happen. Evil doers seldom like being exposed. But exposure is for the wrong doer’s own good. The longer that one gets away with something, the more it becomes a habit. The habit then grows and deforms the character. The sooner the sin is caught, the better that the child caught up in the sin can change and develop new habits.

May God bless you as your train your child to be different. May you train your child to shine light on both the good and evil — to celebrate and to seek correction.

God’s best, Christopher

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