Do you gossip? When you get together with others, do you ever catch yourself saying things about others, or participating in (or even leading) conversations about someone else that may or may not be entirely wholesome, whether or not they’re there to hear it?
“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. (Romans 1:29-31 NIV)
This list is awful, and gossip is on it, I suspect, because it creates trouble and misunderstanding. When we talk about others behind their backs we may feel we are only repeating information, but if given in the spirit of anything less than praise, it can degenerate into something hurtful to that person or his reputation, neither of which honors Christ. Yet gossip is remarkably difficult to avoid, as I can, unfortunately, personally attest.
Within the last several weeks alone I have found myself gossipping with others about someone I feel zero animosity towards–to the contrary, I consider this person my friend and am happy for his success. It certainly wasn’t done with any evil intent or resentment on my part but I suspect that wasn’t entirely clear, with the result that I might have hurt his feelings–something I certainly did not intend and sincerely regret. It truly is amazing how easy it is to get into trouble in a group verbally when you start talking about someone who’s not part of the conversation!
I suppose that part of the problem is that I think of myself as a communicator, a facilitator of information within our family; when I step outside of my home, I still find myself wanting to let everyone know what’s going on. Yet it is this very tendency to pass information along–let’s be frank, to babble too much–that gets us into trouble, into sin. So what does God say about this?
James 1:26 is particularly convicting:
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” (NIV) We must be so careful, because with our speech, we can do much to neutralize the good God is accomplishing through us!
I Timothy 5:13 indicates what can happen when we have too much time on our hands and are not gainfully occupied with what we ought to be doing:
“And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.” (KJV)
The remedy to the idleness that breeds gossip is busyness doing what we ought, as confirmed by I Thessalonians 4:10-12 :
“…But we urge you, brethren…that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.”
Ultimately, each of us must decide who we are–what we will be like. Will we take the path of least resistance, even if it hurts others and dishonors our Master, or will we take the high road and consciously choose to do right, even if it means not participating in a detrimental conversation? May Jesus give each of us the understanding to make the right decisions when these moments arise, and consistently do what is right!
“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” (Psalms 1:1-3 NLT)
Help me honor You with my words, and with my entire life. Forgive me what I have done wrong, and help those I have offended forgive me too! Amen.