It’s been a little while since I wrote Longing For Love: Waiting Yet Satisfied, and I still go back & read it because I need scriptural reminders of who God is for me in Jesus; how He’s called me to holiness; and how he reigns over my past, present and future. However, I still find moments where there are things, or rather feelings within relationships, where I’m not sure of what He says to them. I am quick to dismiss my feelings as stupid, selfish fears or wanting to get my way when there is really something deeper there. Ever been in a situation where something you heard subconsciously effects the way you relate to someone. Like why are you so defensive of yourself with someone you love? Maybe it’s those words shared in love by a friend that were infused with concern/ offense between them and that person. And their words ,although they should have had no effect , went down and took root & now you’re frustrated that you’ve allowed someone else’s offense to become yours and influence how you relate to a person when it’s not your offense to take up in the first place.
What does God say to hurt caused by gossip? Yes, gossip- it’s one of those things that many people don’t think about & the world is so numb to it- just look at how much money is being made on television off of gossip – reality television & grocery store tabloids are a one stop gossip shop…. But it is serious and just one look at the folly of gossip in the world quickly reveals destruction and hurt underneath the drama.
The destruction of gossip plays out if it isn’t recognized and stopped dead in its tracks. The devil is glad when Christians are distracted by gossip, and so we need to think about how to be people who aren’t safe havens for gossip. And for those times that we do lend or have lent an ear to it what do we do ? And how do you unhear something someone has told you and keep it from shaping the way you relate to someone? … Or rather – how do you steer clear of those “Gossip Girl” messy situations ? I don’t call it that to make light of it, but rather to call it like it is – messy. It’s not cute like many television drama series paint it to be and God doesn’t take it lightly in the kingdom. It distracts our focus from where it should be (on Jesus) and let’s face it: it hurts those involved. I don’t think we realize the impact that our words have on others or the power we give to the words spoken to us with our response (or lack of response). We have to pray to recognize and know how to fight against gossip in a God- honoring way; How do we respond, and how do we relate in these situations? I was drawn back to the question of – how do we relate to the fool? the wise? Proverbs 18…
“Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgement.A fool takes no pleasure in understanding , but only in expressing his opinion. When wickedness comes, contempt comes also, and with dishonor comes disgrace. The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook. It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the righteous of justice.A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul. The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the innermost parts of the body.”
– Proverbs 18: 1 – 8, ESV
I’ve on numerous occasions found my ears on the receiving end of “the words of a whisperer,” (and on the flip side as well) and let me tell you they really do “go down into the innermost parts of the body.” I’ve realized a few things in reading through this passage:
- In Jesus I am accepted, invited in, loved, forgiven. In wisdom – I should shut down a conversation when those “delicious morsels” begin to fall from someones lips – there is no wisdom in hearing them out; all that can come from it is destruction. Furthermore, I need to deal with offenses and concerns from others in my own heart so that I am not searching for a reason to listen to my sin nature talking – I’d be a fool to listen to it. “Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another , as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 4:32 – 5:2 Because of the work Jesus has done on the cross, the grace extended to us through His sacrifice, and the gift of His Spirit – we can love others unconditionally, with a tender heart and help guard one another’s character. This is in no way easy sometimes, especially when you just want to shut people out after they drop those “morsels”on you BUT Jesus didn’t shut us out for nailing Him to the cross. He became vulnerable and broken for us so that we could be won back, purchased by His blood. And furthermore while we were sinners He died for us and pursued us. Focusing on this and the experience of His love covers all hurt, and it should motivate us to carry forgiveness in our hearts and be vigilant to ward off gossip – for His glory (and for our good). When our fellowship is focused on Christ, we seek to relate to one another with the love He has so lavishly bestowed upon us! There is no room for the divisive behavior of gossip/slander in the kingdom- it distracts from the witness of Christ we are to share with the world.
- Gossip is self – indulgent and cowardly. Ever noticed in movies how when gossip or slander goes forth the individuals in the circle seem banded together, a sort of brother or sisterhood? That’s because the listeners approval is providing a buzz to the person who is now more “admired and loved” than the person at the center of the gossip or slander. And this leads to the second part – cowardly. In these scenes who is absent? Yup, that’s right – the person everyone is banded together against! Instead of bringing our concern or offense directly to the individual we blast our concern/ offense (and very often personal matters that have no business being blasted) without them to defend or explain themselves. In this situation we’re not looking for understanding of the person & resolution of the concern/offense – we’re looking for allies at the expense of someone else’s character and that is not right. We should be pursuing reconciliation with our brothers and sisters in Christ, not tearing them down (Romans 12:18) .
- Encouraged. I found the following excerpt from Desiring God helpful- I need to become the person whom it is not safe to slander or gossip around. I have always been offended by people telling me the things that they do BUT I haven’t fully realized my culpability and responsibility in how I respond to gossip/slander: Am I joining the band against the person in my reactions (even within my own heart after hearing what’s been said) or am I encouraging the offended person to directly address their concerns ? Being passive in these situations is NOT good (and of course joining in isn’t either- goes without saying but I’ve done both):
“Helping Each Other Fight Slander
When someone slanders another to us, we must remember that we are not mainly fighting flesh and blood, but spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12). Satan knows that slander deadens and splits churches, poisons friendships, and fractures families. He knows slander quenches the Holy Spirit, kills love, short-circuits spiritual renewal, undermines trust, and sucks the courage out of the saints. So our goal, particularly in the context of the church, is to help each other shed demonic weights and avoid satanic stumbling blocks.
So how do we do this?The best way is to become people who are not safe to slander around. We must ask each other questions like:
- Have you shared your concern with this person directly? I’d be willing to go with you to talk to him.
- Just to be clear, is this information I should know? Do you want me to help you pursue reconciliation?
- Are you doing everything you possibly can to put away “all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander?” (Ephesians 4:31)
- How can I help you guard this person’s reputation like a treasure? (Proverbs 22:1)”
Read the rest of the article here.
So let us pray to fight for each other’s character & pray to stand up against gossip/slander- for Christ- that He may be glorified + that there’d be no distraction from our focus on Him! Pray for healing. Gossip/slander hurt but Jesus is bigger than those morsels that go down & cause pain! We can pray & fight to see Him clearly – that the fear, pain, and confusion caused by gossip would not cloud our vision of Him!