Since so much of our life is spent talking or hearing someone else talk, I thought I could take consecutive weeks to write about the words we use. If you haven’t read last week’s blog, this one builds on the same topic.
Thou shalt not gossip. I am coming to believe this very strongly. Gossip does not fit in the Ephesians 4:29 grid of what is acceptable speech. It is not productive and has so much potential of causing harm. As I am writing this, I am remembering so many times where I have experienced or witnessed pain at the hands of gossip.
Gossip is: “Conversation or reports about other people’s private lives that might be unkind, disapproving, or not true.”
Gossip is conversation that adds no value. In many instances, it is used to compare and make ourselves seem better in comparison. Our value is not increased or decreased based on the value of those around us. Gossip is a way we attempt to set our value rather than receive who and what God says we are. Comparison comes out of an insecurity in who we are. Gossip can be a sign of our insecurity in who we are in Christ.
Gossip can tear apart a community so quickly. It causes people to align themselves on sides. When there are sides within a community, there will be division. There is one side the church is to be on. The Lord’s side.
Gossip is also a source of pain. The times in my life when I have confided in people and heard they told others had negative impact on me for years. I had a tough time forgiving a breach of trust for years with a few friends. It created in me an inability to love and be loved by others. I kept people at a distance. I controlled carefully what I would share, thinking anything I shared would just become public knowledge. My reaction was not okay. My unforgiveness was not okay. My holding on to wounds was not okay. I have repented of my own reactions. But there were deep wounds caused by sin, deep wounds caused by gossip.
Gossip is not lined with a gospel lens of hope. When we as believers see brokenness, our desire should align with the heart of God for restoration. When we think about a person in a broken state, we should be led to pray for their restoration We should desire a future free of the effects of sin. There is no redemptive potential in talking about someone else’s brokenness.
11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.
So what do we do when we are aware of the fault of someone? Should we just let them keep sinning? NO! Although we are not to talk about it with others, if someone is sinning they are hurting themselves. If someone is hurt, they need comforting. We should not talk about it with others. We are to be present and love the person in need. We correct as it is required. We pray for them as it is needed. We should not even entertain others’ gossip. In a Christian community, gossip should be stopped as any other harmful act should be.
If you ever played the telephone game as a kid, you know that information, as it is passed along, has a way of being distorted. The further you are from a source, the less reliable it is. Gossip is a great example of this. The more it is discussed, the more distorted it will become. We could be spreading false words that wreck a life.
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Sin is not to be condoned. When we see it, we need to call our brother or sister to repentance. If they refuse, we bring another into it. If it is still a refusal, we bring the leadership into it. Intentional active rebellion is not to be permitted. But we see Jesus limiting the people involved throughout the process. Discussion of sinful situations is not redemptive. Repentance is.
I will be honest. Gossip is seductive. It is not easy to fight the urge to partake. It takes self control. It takes boldness to shut down conversations. But we have to do it. The health of our relationships and the health of the church is at stake. Be strong and courageous. Speak blessing and not curses. Address an issue with the person at fault instead of others. Invite God to set your value instead of comparing yourself to others.