Monday, January 17, 2011

Gossip & Forgiveness

I grew up in church and so the topic of gossip is not a new topic of study for me BUT recently I have been challenged to revisit the topic for many reasons. One of those being to make sure I am living the way I need to live, a holy and pleasing life to the Lord (Romans 12:1) and another reason is because we have been working with the youth more and more and gossip is such a prevalent topic while in high school.

Whenever I clicked on Bible gateway today the verses for the day were "Do everything without grumbling or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life and then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain." Philippians 2:14-16.

Wow. Do EVERYTHING without arguing and complaining then we will be showing Christ to others. That's a big task. But, this was just the beginning of the journey the Lord was about to take me on on issues of the mouth.

Next, I decided to look and see what the bible said about gossip. What better way to figure out how to live our lives than through his holy, infallible book if instructions for us. Here are some of the verses in the bible that reference gossip.

A gossip betrays a confidence but a trustworthy person keeps a secret. ~ Proverbs 11:13
Then I looked deeper into this verse. Another version of the bible says, "Someone with integrity won't violate a confidence." Integrity is defined as 'soundness of moral character or honest.'
Who doesn't want to be known as someone with integrity or honest?!

The bible also says in Proverbs 16:28 that "A perverse person (one who is persistent in what is wrong) stirs up conflict and a gossip separates close friends."

Proverbs 18:8 and Proverbs 26:22 both say that, "The words of a gossip are like choice morsels, they go down to the inmost parts." In the Message bible it says, "Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy, do you really want all that junk in your belly."

Proverbs 20:19 says, "A gossip betrays a confidence so avoid someone who talks too much." Here, it doesn't mean if you like to talk that no one should be your friend. It is talking about the person who loves to talk about things that aren't uplifting and promoting the spiritual progress of others (Ephesians 4:29)

Proverbs 26:20 says that "without wood a fire dies out, without a gossip a quarrel dies down."

Therefore, gossip has NO place in my life. None. Not even sometimes or just to a certain person. If I want to follow Christ, I am to walk how He walked and that never included gossip.

So, ok, we know we should not gossip BUT let's define gossip and gossiper.

Gossip according to is "rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature" or "idle talk about the personal or private affairs of others."

Gosspier according to is "a person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumors or facts."

Wickapedia also said that "gossip has a reputation for errors and variations in the info transmitted and usually has a personal or trivial nature opposed to 'normal conversation'."

An unknown source said that functions of gossip are to reinforce and punish the lack of morality and accountability and can be used as a form of passive aggression to isolate or harm others.

So even if something you say about someone is true, if it causes someone else to think less of that person then it shouldn't be said. Period.

There is MUCH more to say about this topic but at some point I must move on. I just feel that I can't talk about gossip without talking about forgiveness because I know that everyone has been the victim of gossip sometime in their lifetime and that it is hard to forgive!

The bible says in Matthew 18:21-22, "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

I don't know about you, but that seems like a lot of times to me. So, I'm thinking, someone spreads a lie about me 77 times and I'm supposed to forgive them every time? Yes! That's what the bible says and I can't help but think of how many times Christ has forgiven me of the same things over and over and over and over again! Thank you Jesus, that He does so why can I not forgive others who gossip about me?

When you can't forgive someone, you are not only creating a gap between you and that person but also between you and God!

I don't want a gap between me and God. I need Him desperately to even make it through the day!

The bible gives a clear way for handling situations with other believers in which they have wronged you. It says in Matthew 18:15-16 that "If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you've made a friend. If he won't listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won't listen, tell the church. If he won't listen to the church, you'll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God's forgiving love."

Really, believers hardly ever get past the confronting and then confronting with someone else stage. If you are truly a believer then you will have conviction for sin probably even before a confrontation but even if someone never "owns up" to gossiping about you, you and I are still called to forgive with God's forgiveness, which means over and over and over again.

Also, in Matthew, Luke, Mark and Duet, Jesus says that we are to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself."

This applies to gossip and to forgiveness. First, loving your neighbor as yourself would be not gossiping about anyone at all and then if someone gossips about you, it involves you forgiving because that is what you would want someone to do for you!!

In closing, two scriptures sum up the whole issue of gossip. First, 1 Timothy 6:20, "O Timothy, guard and keep the deposit (your salvation) entrusted [to you]! Turn away from the irreverent babble and godless chatter, with the vain and empty and worldly phrases, and the subtleties and the contradictions in what is falsely called knowledge and spiritual illumination." And lastly, Ephesians 4:29 "Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God's favor) to those who hear it.

1 comment:

T. Johnson said...

Wow! This is great. Thanks for sharing.