Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Gossip, that unknown realm

You sure don't hear much about this subject from the pulpit today . Oh, you might hear someone say, "you shouldn't gossip", but you may not be aware of just how much we really do gossip simply because we have never explored what it really means. I have been struggling with this word for quite a while now as I try to determine what it is. I am ever more aware of what I say and why I say it. The Holy Spirit is quick to remind me when I do and I must respond to that prompting.

As always, I first want to go to God's Word and see what He has to say about the subject. For the faint of spirit or weak of tongue, you may want to sit down but whatever you do, don't leave this page just yet!

Lev 19:16 "You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the LORD."

Psalm 34:13 Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit.

Psalm 101:5 Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.

Prov 6:19 false witness who utters lies,And one who spreads strife among brothers.

Prov 10:18 He who conceals hatred has lying lips,And he who spreads slander is a fool.

Prov 11:9 With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor,But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.

Prov 11:13 He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.

Prov 16:28 A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close

Prov 17:9 He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the
matter separates close friends.

Prov 18:8 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a
man's inmost parts.

Prov 20:19 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.

Prov 26:20 Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.

Eccl 10:11 If a snake bites before it is charmed, there is no profit for the charmer.

Matt 12:36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of
judgment for every careless word they have spoken.

Eph 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Eph 4:31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

2 Tess 3:11 We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are

1 Tim 3:11 In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect,
not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

1 Tim 5:13 Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from
house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and
busybodies, saying things they ought not to.

Titus 2:3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.

Titus 3:1-2 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be
obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good,to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

James 4:11 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.

1 Peter 2:1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

1 Peter 3:10"Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech."

Well, I guess we could just stop right there, get the duct tape out and never say another word!!! However, I am going to go a little deeper. Hey, I may need this more than you so just bear with me!

I was so perplexed by this word that I had to check Webster's definition.
1. a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others
2 a: rumor or report of an intimate nature b : a chatty talk c : the subject matter of gossip

Next, I went even further to figure out what some of the other words meant in this context.
sensational: arousing or tending to arouse (as by lurid details) a quick, intense, and usually superficial interest, curiosity, or emotional reaction
intimate: of a very personal or private nature
personal:of, relating to, or affecting a particular person: relating to an individual or an individual's character, conduct, motives, or private affairs often in an offensive manner

Next, I read a few messages from Dr. John MacArthur and here's what he had to say:

Gossip­-someone who is quick to discuss private matters. Also, such a person is apt to say one thing to one person and another to someone else to gain his or her own personal goals.

Are you often tempted to talk about someone else's sin? Well, after love deals with a person's sin it covers it with silence. Love certainly doesn't gossip about it. How much of your conversation would be silenced if you never gossiped about the faults and sins of others? At the end of each day, try and recall how often you gossiped about someone else's faults. Confess it, and then commit yourself to love the brethren by not rejoicing in their sin or repeating it to others.
Although we don't throw literal stones today, we often do throw stones in the form of verbal assaults or gossip.

OUCH!!!! Okay, I'm guilty! I've done these very things, completely unaware most times, of what I was doing. Now, as I said earlier, I have become much more aware of this in the last year or so because my pastors, one being my husband, speaks to this from the pulpit regularly so I can't help but be aware. As I look back on my conversations with others I am sickened to think what I said. No, my motives were not always to drag someone through the mud or mar their character but that's just what I did. Yes, sometimes that's just what my motive was. God help me!!

Here's the really sad truth about this very sketchy subject, it's not always about negative stuff. Have you ever told someone that another person is pregnant? You say, "that's a happy thing" or "that's not gossip because it's not going to hurt anyone". Did that person give you permission to tell others they were pregnant or did you just rob them of a joyful moment?

Here are a few questions you probably should ask yourself before you speak, and trust me, I'm learning to keep my mouth shut the hard way so I'm going to put this into practice pronto!!

Is it gossip?-----------

Is what I am about to say going to hurt someone's character?
What is my motive in saying this?
What do I hope to accomplish?
Do I have permission to say something about another from that person?
Would I say to the persons face what I'm about to say about them to someone else?
Am I breaking a confidence?
Am I participating in gossip by listening to another person talk about someone else?
Is this an intimate detail that would embarass the person whom it is about?

When someone comes to you and wants to "discuss" something about someone else, ask them this, "have you talked to so and so about this before you came to be?" What if someone needs to "vent" or talk about what someone did to them so they can feel relief. It's gossip! Stop it right there. Encourage them with Scripture and tell them you will pray for them but don't allow them to damage others in the process.

Here's a sad scenario: I'll use bogus names!
"Jane" hurt you to the point of ruining a friendship or revealed something personal about you. You in turn, begin to tell others what Jane did to you because you need to be "encouraged" or get your frustration out or feel relief or get someone elses "opinion" about how you should handle it. That person you just told, (we'll call her Joan), now has a preconceived idea about Jane. Well, Jane comes to you several months later realizing her sin, repents, apologizes to you and restores the friendship. Later, you and Jane run into Joan and you introduce Joan to Jane. Joan has a funny look on her face. Why? Joan sees you with Jane, who you "gossiped" about, and wonders why you would want to be with "that kind" of person. What have you done to Jane now? Joan can't forgive Jane because you already scarred her character and now you are going to have to ask Joan to forgive you.

See the ugly web gossip weaves!!

What if it's fact? It doesn't matter, you must still ask the questions above and determine why you even need to talk about it. Fact or not, it may still be gossip.
Confrontation and correction is never easy for anyone and no one likes it, however, we must stop using our tongues to inflict harm. I certainly do not want to be the person described in Romans 3:13 "THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS".
Weigh everything carefully before you say it. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your words and bring to your mind the Scriptures that are clearly targeted at your tongue.

I will still struggle with this because I am still a sinner in need of God's grace and mercy. I will probably have to go apologize to someone again and again because my pride and selfishness will continue to get in the way of the Holy Spirits refining work in me.

May God help us to be encouragers to one another, with uplifting and kind words. Look for the good in others because there's enough bad in ourselves that we don't even need to look for it in others! You hold me to this and I'll hold you to it!! Deal?

God bless you as you seek to honor Him with your lips!

For Christ and His Kingdom,