Some Thoughts on Gossip

2 Corinthians 12:20
For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish–that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.

Proverbs 20:19
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.

There is a time to talk about a situation or about another person. David told Samuel all that Saul had done to him (1 Samuel 19:18). Paul and John exposed the sinful behavior of specific brethren in their letters. But we find ourselves justifying talking about people and situations way too much.

The Oxford Dictionary defines gossip as “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.”

What are some thoughts from the Scripture that will help us define what gossip is?

Gossip is talking about people and situations without seeking a solution.

Proverbs 18:2
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Proverbs 29:11
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

Romans 12:3
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Are we just venting to others? Are we just telling our side of the story? Is our purpose to find a solution and seek reconciliation, or is it just to tell others how right we are and how wrong others are? Gossip comes from pride, we simply think too much of our own opinion that includes our opinions and conclusions of others.

Gossip is imagining the worst motives about a person and repeating that to others.

Psalms 41:7
All who hate me whisper together about me; they imagine the worst for me.

If our tone and our words are simply running somebody down, then what’s the point of that? If we keep thinking the worst of others, and we keep finding out that those things aren’t true, shouldn’t we look in the mirror and see that we are maligning others? God wants us to believe all things and hope all things, but if we are creating the worst possible scenario on people’s actions, words and motives, then we are not living in love.

Malign, according to Oxford Dictionary, means “to speak about (someone) in a spitefully critical manner.”

James 4:11
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

Gossip is going “house to house” and repeating the story to person after person.

1 Timothy 5:13
Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.

Just as the gospel is spread “house to house” (Acts 20:20), so is gossip. Are we spreading the gospel or spreading gossip from house to house? We have to look in the mirror and ask if we are talking about a situation to too many people.

Leviticus 19:16
You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.

2 Thessalonians 3:11-12
For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

Gossip is uncovering what should be covered.

Proverbs 10:12
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.

1 Peter 4:8
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Proverbs 17:9
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.

My words have great power, including the ability to separate close friends. Maybe we need to be more like Noah’s sons, who walked backward to cover their father’s nakedness (Genesis 9). There are times to expose the sin, and the Bible is full of those examples. We especially need to expose those who are stirring up discord among God’s people. But as we are talking with others, let’s prayerfully consider whether we are seeking to cover sins or to make others look shameful before others.

Gossip must be stopped and silenced.

One of the jobs of shepherds in the church is to “stop the mouths” of those who are causing trouble. Gossip is one of the 7 things God hates. Shouldn’t we as God’s people seek to stop what God hates? The apostle John was going to personally stop the mouth of Diotrephes (3 John 9-10). Paul told Titus that the brethren’s idle mouths at Crete needed to be stopped (Titus 1:10-13). Paul knew that some people’s idle babble will spread like a cancer (2 Timothy 2:16-17). There was a time that Paul “delivered” certain brethren to Satan so they would learn to better use their mouths (1 Timothy 1:20).

Proverbs 6:16-19
There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Titus 1:10-13
For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,

We stop gossip by:
  • Not repeating it. Gossip is like a chocolate cupcake, it sure tastes good to hear and really makes a great story to repeat. But God says this is sinful (Proverbs 11:13; 18:8; 26:20-22). Where there is no wood, the fire goes out. Stop adding fuel!
  • Not listening to it. The Bible says not to “associate” with a gossip (1 Corinthians 5:11; Proverbs 20:19; Romans 16:17-18). It amazes me that sometimes brethren are more concerned about disciplining a brother who has stopped attending church rather than stopping the gossip that is destroying the church. Gossips don’t make good friends. They just bring you down and you become like them. Proverbs says not to make friendship with an angry man lest you learn his ways and it be a snare to your soul (Proverbs 22:24). Gossip comes from angry hearts. Don’t hang around that kind of behavior.
  • Understanding that there are two sides. Love the other person who is being gossiped about. Love them enough to consider that you haven’t heard from him. Love him enough to go and hear from him. The Proverbs says that “the first one to plead his case seems right until his neighbor comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). Have you ever had someone gossip about you, and then that other person swallows that stuff hook, line and sinker without even coming to you? That hurts doesn’t it?
  • Following Jesus’ simple guidelines for resolving conflict (Matthew 18:15-17). Jesus told us, no he commanded us what to do. Are we smarter than God? Do we think we have a better way to resolve conflict? As Dr. Phil may ask, “How’s that working for you?” Is our way working?

Jesus will stop all idle mouths one day. The passage below is Jesus saying that we will give an account of those idle words one day. We will give account for every one of those idle words…not to my friends, not to the church, not to my boss, but to Jesus.

Matthew 12:33-37
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Here are a few questions a shepherd gave me that he has used to ask others:

  • Did they tell you about this matter because they wanted you to go with them to try and reconcile the situation?
  • Did they tell you about this matter because they wanted your thoughts on how they could best approach them?
  • Did they tell you about this matter because they wanted you to pray for them?

James 3:5-18
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Worse Than The Flu

Proverbs 18:14 – A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?

Lots of folks around us are sick right now. The flu and other yucky-ness is going around. I had my own bout with it the past few days.

The above verse says that a man’s spirit will endure sickness and even carry us through the few days we are ill. We can be sick for a few days, fight a cold or flu and get over it. Our inner spirit isn’t much worse for the wear.

But Solomon says that if our spirit is crushed…who can bear it? It is a sad thought, but very true. We see in the previous chapter of Proverbs that “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). A vibrant and hopeful spirit can sustain a person and give them the drive to heal physically, but when someone is completely broken inside, their physical condition will many times deteriorate to match their inner state. They just give up physically because they have given up on the inside. David said it this way, “my heart is wounded within me” (Psalm 109:22).

There are those living in our midst who are broken and crushed, and are on the verge of completely falling apart. As we think about those around us who are like that, I want us to consider what the Proverbs says about words and the power of words to those who are broken.

Proverbs 12:25 – Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.

Proverbs 15:13 – A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.

Proverbs 15:23 – To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!

Proverbs 16:23-24 – The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips. Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

If you see those who are broken, remember that “a good word” may help him or her today. Those “gracious words” are like honeycomb and may actually help improve that person’s health. Our words have that power!

10 Things About Gossip

For this morning, here is a sermon we watched yesterday from Roger Shouse about gossip. By the way, the Internet can be such a blessing when you are caregiving for someone who is unable at times to get to church services. We can click on a website and watch sermons and hear God’s people singing! Awesome stuff.

Ten Things You Need to Remember about Gossip

Here is the list of the 10 things Roger mentioned in his sermon:

  1. Gossip is often found following qualified statements (I shouldn’t be telling you this, but…).
  2. Not all things said are true.
  3. Words can hurt.
  4. Gossip comes from a heart that likes to think the worst rather than the best.
  5. Gossip lives or dies by the choices we make.
  6. Gossip puts us in an awful group.
  7. Gossip is wrong.
  8. Thumper’s mother was right (you have to know the Disney movie Bambi to get this…”If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all).
  9. As our faith grows, our gossipy ways ought to stop.
  10. We will be judged for what we say.

One of the things I loved about this sermon is the acronym Roger used at the end of his sermon. T.H.I.N.K.

T – Is it True?

H – Is it Helpful?

I – Is it Inspiring?

N – Is it Necessary?

K – Is it Kind?

Proverbs 26:20 – For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.

What Your Friends Say

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Whoever started that statement may have had good intentions, but he or she could not have been more wrong. That is such an untrue statement, and it will not help heal the wounds that words make.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits (Proverbs 18:21).

I am currently doing some studying on the book of Job. Job’s friends said a lot of things about him, and they made some pretty serious and damning accusations. And the more the discussions went on, the more they heaped on him and the more they created about him. According to their words, he was the worst kind of sinner, and he deserved every bit of the “punishment” he was receiving from God. Consider that “sticks and stones” quote with how Job felt about the words of his friends:

“How long will you torment me and break me in pieces with words?” 
(Job 19:2)

Job would rather have been beaten with sticks and stones than to have these words thrown his way by his “friends.”

The problem with the friends that is that they were dead wrong about Job, they were wrong about God, and they didn’t know a thing about comforting someone regardless of how sincere they thought their motives were. Listen to what God says about Job.

And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
(Job 1:8)

And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.”
(Job 2:3)

After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the LORD had told them, and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer.
(Job 42:7-9)

Even later in the Bible, Job is considered by God as one of the most faithful and righteous men to ever live (Ezekiel 14:14,20; James 5:11).

One thing to remember from all of this is that what other’s say about you is hurtful, but what really matters is what God says about you. Job lived his life in such a way that he had the Lord’s approval, even if others were saying bad things about him.

I’ve heard the following quote from several sources, and I leave it for your consideration:

It’s not what people call you, it’s what you answer to that matters.

A final thought, notice that God required Job to pray for his three friends. Even after all the nasty things they said, God wanted Job to pray for them. This coincides with Matthew 5:44, when Jesus asks us to pray for those who mistreat us. While we are praying for our own healing, we must also pray for those who have hurt us.

Be nice

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).

I like what Albert Barnes said about “being kind” from this verse.

Christianity produces true courteousness, or politeness. It does not make one rough, crabby, or sour; nor does it dispose its followers to violate the proper rules of social contact.

Being a Christian should produce a polite spirit. As Barnes said, we should not become rough, crabby or sour. But that happens, doesn’t it, men? We get into the busy-ness of life and things keep piling on, and sometimes we get cranky with those we love the most.

That’s when we may hear something from those wonderful wives of ours…something like, “Be nice.”

Guys, don’t forget to be nice. Even in all the crazy twists and turns of life, saying nice and kind things to your family members is not only helpful for having peace and harmony, it is what God expects of us. Being too tired or “stressed” to be nice is not a good excuse.

Can you imagine if God barked at us like we sometimes snap at others? Yikes, we couldn’t survive that. But God is at His core a kind being. So, just like at the gym, it’s time to work on your core.

It helps sometimes to stop, breathe a little bit, say a prayer for God to help you to chill out, and look at your wife and kids and just smile.

Be nice.

The Tongue of the Wise Promotes Health

There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health (Proverbs 12:18).

The focus for this week has been complaining. Words as we all know, have incredible weight and influence. The above proverb provides a great contrast. A stab wound doesn’t promote health, does it? My words can be a sword thrust through someone or I can promote health. Our words at work and school today can promote health: healthy attitudes, healthy dialogue, healthy teamwork, etc. Or, our complaining and criticizing words will just bring everyone down in the dumps.

Here are a couple of examples:

10 of the 12 spies sent by Moses to look over the land of Canaan brought back a bad report. They were faithless and their words discouraged the hearts of the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 1:28). Caleb, one of the 2 faithful spies, said decades later that the discouraging words of those 10 spies “made the heart of the people melt” (Joshua 14:8).

In contrast, consider King Hezekiah. When surrounded by the powerful army of Assyria, Hezekiah took his stand in faith with God. Not only did he prepare the people militarily, he spoke words of faith and encouragement to the people and directed their hearts to God’s power. “And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah” (2 Chronicles 32:6-8).

See the contrast? I think we all, that means me too, sometimes lose sight of how powerful and influential our speech can be. That’s probably why there is so much in Scripture about our words and their power. Hezekiah strengthened his people while the 10 spies made the hearts of Israel melt into discouragement.

The Tongue of the Wise Promotes Health

I found an interesting passage in Isaiah where the Messiah (Jesus) is speaking in the 1st person about what He is coming to do. In that section there is this statement:

The Lord has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary (Isaiah 50:4).

Jesus, the Messiah, has the tongue of the learned (educated, trained, wise). He knows how to speak a word in season (at the right time) to him who is weary (considering the audience and what is appropriate).

May the Lord give us this same tongue today! Let us train and educate our tongues and hearts. Consider what would be the right thing to say, not what would be the easy thing, or sarcastic thing or funny thing to say.

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones (Proverbs 16:24).

Past articles that might be helpful to you in connection to this topic:

 

When Asa Heard These Words

Now when Asa heard these words and the prophecy which Azariah the son of Oded the prophet spoke, he took courage and removed the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities which he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. He then restored the altar of the LORD which was in front of the porch of the LORD (2 Chronicles 15:8).

How powerful are the words you say?

Let’s look here for just a moment in the life of King Asa of Judah. We will not take time to really dig into his life, but what we see in this verse is a powerful thought for us to consider today. A prophet named Azariah was sent by God to encourage Asa. The king was told that if he sought the Lord, then the Lord would be found by him. He was also encouraged to be strong because he would be rewarded by God for his work (please read the first 7 verses of 2 Chronicles 15). Because of these words, verse 8 tells us that Asa was given courage to lead the people in repentance and returning to God. The right words stirred up a national revival.

Words. Again, I want you to meditate upon this, how powerful are the words you say?

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit (Proverbs 18:21).

Death is in the power of the tongue. So is life. See the power you hold in that little muscle behind your teeth? Power to bring life and healing, and power to tear down and discourage.

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad (Proverbs 12:25).

A good word makes it glad. What “good word” can you share with someone around you today? Our Christian friends around us have struggles, weaknesses, temptations and trials just like we do. Don’t you like a good word at times like these? Why not share the same with someone else today?

Think of the power that a few words had with a king and how that influenced the whole nation. If you share a few encouraging words with someone around you today, what impact can that have down the road for countless others?

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13).

David restrained his servants with these words

“So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul” (1 Samuel 24:7).

Words as you know have incredible power. With one or two words, we can calm someone’s spirit, stir up wrath, give someone courage, or shred someone to ribbons.

Today, as you are at work, or living in the community amongst friends and neighbors, consider the power of your words.

David was anointed by God as the next king of Israel, but the current king of Israel, Saul, did not take that very well. King Saul devoted most of his time, energy and resources to destroy David and anyone who supported him. David found himself being chased and hunted as a dog. He could never rest during those years because the very King of Israel sent all his forces to find him and kill him.

Well, David and his men were given the seemingly perfect opportunity to end this long nightmare. By chance (or by God’s providence), they ended up hiding in the very same cave where King Saul had come in to tend to his needs (whatever they were). King Saul was sleeping on the cave floor and David and his hardened warriors are standing over Saul with swords in their hands. The conclusion for David’s men was obvious. One strike with the sword and this is all over. David’s loyal soldiers were convinced that this opportunity to kill King Saul was from the Lord.

David, however, knew better. He knew that King Saul was God’s anointed, and that he did not have the right to kill Saul. Even though David could end his temporary suffering, take the throne, and make himself look tough and mighty to his men, he took the godly path instead.

David’s words restrained his men. Think about that today at work or at school. Words start riots in cities and wars between nations. The phrases that leave your lips can end long-standing partnerships and friendships. However, your words can also lead to calm and healing. Words can diffuse a very tense situation. Your words can bring light, peace and wisdom to a situation that otherwise could tailspin into disaster.

Will you be a David today? You might be able to take a cheap shot at a boss or a fellow employee, and it might make you look good temporarily to those around you, but at what expense? You could join in with the work gossip and endear yourself to others by agreeing with their bitter and negative assessments of things. Or will you be the man who seeks to use your influence and your words to lead people in a more positive direction that honors God?

So, which words will you choose today?