The last top ten Melany and I wrote was about watching what comes out of our mouths. It was this post that inspired to me to finally publish this series that has been sitting in my draft box for months on end. The first day I talked about cursing, yesterday venting, and today's topic is on an all too common issue: gossip.
I find it hard to resist questions that begin with, "Have you heard...?" And if I give into the temptation to participate in the "talk of the town" I feel heavily convicted. There's so many reasons for this, but, as always, I'll use the Bible to explain why because it is through His Word that the Holy Spirit works within us, reminding us of His truth. It's quite obvious that humans have struggled with gossip since the beginning of time. In fact, the author of Proverbs illustrates why it's so difficult to resist, "The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels..." (Proverbs 26:22) Yup. I'd say that about sums it up.
There's more to that Proverb that I'll get into later, but for now we need to recognize the fact that our fleshly, rotten self craves the details of our neighbors dirty laundry. Admitting the fact that we're all malicious slanderers and gossips should be humbling. We're all in the same boat. More humbling still is the point Paul Maxwell made in his blog post titled, "What Gossip Says About God" which had a few statements that hit me like a ton of bricks, "What we say reveals what we believe." As if that statement wasn't big enough, I read this: "Gossip is the opposite of how the Son speaks to the Father about you."
Yeah, I think that one needs to be on repeat.
In fact, Maxwell's entire sentence following this one amazing statement had me in awe of our perfect and wise God:
Gossip is the opposite of how the Son speaks to the Father about you. The Trinity talks about you behind your back. And it would be really encouraging if you heard what they said. When they talk about your sin, there is hope and a plan (1 Corinthians 1:21; Philippians 1:6). When they talk about your suffering, there is help and a purpose (James 1:3).
I encourage you to read every bit of this awesome post because it will give greater depth than anything I mention here, but I want to spend some time talking about why Scripture is so absolutely clear on gossiping by asking a few questions I hope you already know the answer to...
Does gossip build trust in a relationship?
No. Definitely not. Anyone who is willing to gossip to you about someone else is probably willing to gossip about you to someone else. That truth doesn't exactly inspire trust for that person does it?
Does what we say reveal our own hearts?
According to the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 15:18-19, YES! "... what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander." That scripture alone reveals why I feel so heavily convicted about participating in gossip (aka slander). Babbling reveals my sinful heart which should leave me ashamed.
Not only does it reveal my evil thoughts, but it shows my foolishness, my lack of self-control and that I lack sense, "Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remands silent. Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered." (Proverbs 11:12-13) Foolishness, senselessness, untrustworthiness are qualities exposed by my lack of self control; and that leaves me full of shame and regret for revealing those ugly characteristics to someone else.
Does gossip ruin friendships?
The wisest king in history shared in many Proverbs that this is absolutely true! "There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." (Proverbs 12:18) In other words, gossip hurts. Due to this fact, king Solomon explains that it does ruin friendships, "A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends." (Proverbs 16:28) If you value your friendship you won't participate in gossip with that person, or gossip about that person. Both prove you are an untrustworthy individual not worthy of a close friendship.
Does gossip build up or tear down?
Paul tells the church in Ephesus that one way to remain unified as Christians is to, "Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." He goes on to demand that all, "... bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:29, 31-32) I'd say gossip and corrupt talk and bitterness and slander share many similarities and accomplish the exact opposite of what unifies and builds one another up: kindness, grace, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness.
If we give in to all the juicy details of gossip, who's the center of our focus?
It obviously is not Christ who is kind, full of grace, tenderhearted, and forgiving. And if HE isn't the focus of your mind, your heart will be revealed. Don't forget how He, as our perfect mediator between us and God, talks about us to God. If you don't remember, visit Paul Maxwell's article titled, "What Gossip Says About God" mentioned earlier.
When I hear something about someone it's soooooo tempting to call up a friend or unload on my husband all the juicy morsels as soon as he comes home, but I pray that in my moments of weakness the Holy Spirit reminds me to talk to HIM. I love this advice,
He is WAY better at solving issues, calming the heart, and sending reminders of His Word to our mind; like this verse, "For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases." (Proverbs 16:20) Don't add kindling to the fire. Keep your trap shut and the gossip and fighting stops with you. You'll build trust, reveal your heart, keep your friendships, build others up, and keep Christ as your central focus by doing that one simple act. BUT it's one of the hardest things to do, so when you're tempted, pray that God give you strength, wisdom and the words according to HIS Word.
John Piper has many sermons and blog posts on this particular topic and there's one short blurb that I wanted to copy and paste in it's entirety: Talking to People Rather Than About Them. It's short, sweet, and to the point. It's quite obviously worth checking out!