Person 1: “I am really concerned about the pastor let us pray for him. He is facing a lot of issues.”
Person 2: “We surely should pray for our pastors. What should I specifically pray for?”
Person 1: “Mh, I do not like talking about pastors but he wants to invest some cash in building his house. You know the other day he purchased the wrong speakers, I have noticed he makes very poor decisions as pertains investments. Let us hope he does the right thing. Have you seen how his daughter dresses in church nowadays? I wonder if both live in the same house. I heard a few women complaining that the wife is also moody, I think they need to change… I even feel how he preached on Sunday he sounded stressed..”
Person 2: (interrupting)..” Its like he did not prepare for that sermon the other day.They seem to have many issues nowadays. What do you think is wrong with the wife? I think she is very proud..”
(Mark passes them, they greet him with big smiles.)
Person 1: I really pity him, i know you must have heard what happened.
Person 2: what?
Person 1: “eh! are you the only person in this church who does not know. He broke up with Mary. But I knew from the beginning they will not manage that relationship, I don’t like how Mary behaves sometimes. Let us just pray for them that the Lord may heal their hearts.”
Person 1: “I think I have a problem, I do not know how to handle Mike nowadays, he is my friend but he is just too problematic, he even doesn’t save any cash for himself, he has become such a bother, he keeps borrowing. I also do not think he knows how to control his temper. What do you think I should do.”
Person 2: “I really find it hard to handle such friends who keep borrowing cash. They can be so annoying. recently i saw him with a new car, so you mean he is sustaining all that with debts…(Giggles), but you know we are supposed to help our friends, please talk to him.”
Dear friends, it is a pity! How we have allowed the enemy to use us to spread out stories about our fellow brethren. Gossip often masquerades as concern, for instance the discussion about the pastor above came as a genuine concern to pray for him, but the line of the concern was just crossed and it became a moment of exposure- I mean what exactly are this two sinners going to pray for? Is it the money? the daughter? Wife? The speakers? the church? The truth of the matter is that, both of them may not pray at all.
Perhaps am writing this because I am a gossip. I have spoken words about others that have been unnecessary, unkind and sometimes even untrue. More times than I would like to admit, I have needed to beg forgiveness from God and others for my speech. Or even because I have also been the subject of gossip and felt the sting that accompanies it, some stories still hurt up to date, I have gotten information about myself that has left me broken and have left me feeling that it was very unfair for me. And while I wish I could say that these experiences mostly occurred in the secular world, the truth is that most of these incidences have been among Christians.
You see, we love to know and share rumors and secrets, they are always juicy!The more scandalous stories look, the more we enjoy. Most of us feel out of the picture if some information has been circulating around without our knowledge. We even feel it should have passed first to you, when our friends do not tell us things (just so that we know only not so that we can help) we feel betrayed. Then we also love to adjust or fill in the small details, exaggerating here and there so that it can even get more juicier. We want to know everything that is happening around and we cannot fail to give our opinions about it, we are more drawn and attracted to conflicts, we love where brethren look like they are suffering and struggling, we love fights but we pretend to try to solve them, Paul called us busybodies- 2 Thes. 3:11-“…For some of you walk in idleness, not busy at work but busybodies.” 1 Timothy 5:13- “…they go from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.” May the Lord forgive us.
Many Christians do not take gossip as sin, we quickly rebuke stealing, sexual sin, anger.. but we completely do not think we have disobeyed the Lord when we gossip. While “bigger” issues are treated with divisive importance in the lives of Christians, gossip has become an almost expected part of the Church. It is often ignored, or even mentioned jokingly; starting off with something like, “Now, I don’t mean to gossip, but …”
“But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer.” 2 Tim 2:16-17. Backbiting can come to us so naturally that we can even do it without knowledge. A simple conversation becomes an opportunity to complain or speak negatively about someone. Maybe we hold a prejudice against someone and secretly want others to share that prejudice, weaving opinions into a conversation to get the others to agree, “Oh, yes, he is so much like this” or “It’s absolutely horrible how she gets away with that.” In backbiting, we encourage others to backbite as well. The results of backbiting are: division, strife, suspicion and hatred(Adopted). Satan who is the father of gossip(the accuser of brethren) is all about division, and he has managed to use us to be a part of the reason why the body of Christ is falling apart everyday!
“A whisperer separates the best of friends.” Proverbs 16:28. It is natural that once you gossip your friend, your relationship from there on wards changes, gossip results into a sudden change of attitude to the negative. Over time, a small issue becomes a big one that creates a huge rift between friends, where there once existed a pure friendship, it is replaced by enmity. Gossip also does not leave the gossipers in a permanent relationship, they only enjoy a short period of what looks like a friendship which even ends up in a worse break up. Gossip is such a dangerous weed! It has such a negative ripple effect especially in the church of Christ.
We can therefore not continue to entertain it!
- God is against gossip
Proverbs 6:16-19 says there are seven things that the Lord finds “detestable”, and speaking falsely against someone is in that list. In fact, giving a false testimony against someone made it into God’s Top 10 in Exodus 20:16. James 1:26 tells us that someone who thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue is “deceiving himself” and has a “useless” religion. Perhaps the most telling is that, in Romans 1:28-32, Paul included gossips and slanderers in the same list as those who hate God and murder! The big message is God despises the practice of intentionally causing pain to others by what we say.
2. Gossip does not edify anyone.
At most instances, gossip leaves you at a point of guilt. So as much as we just would like to give out the information, it leaves us feeling sinful rather than granting us relief. Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Our mouths can be used to do great goodness, in blessing and uplifting the others, or great wickedness, in speaking evil and slandering the others. “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing.” James 3:10.
3. Gossip and lying goes hand in hand.
Most times gossip is coloured with “more details”, exaggeration, that are aimed at making the story more juicier and this now renders the gossiper a liar!
As I keep growing up I am learning that gossip is certainly a kind of speech that will not exist in heaven and I as an ambassador of Heaven I need to learn to stop it even when the natural tendency of me is inclined to loving to know something or give out information. I am also learning that encouraging gossip is equally sinful. If I allow gossip to continue, I am just as guilty as the one who brought it up. I should not take part in gossip and backbiting in order to be “friendly,” or to “go along with the crowd.”
I am learning that: when you are invited to gossip about someone, you could just walk away or try to change the subject. Or, you could stand up for what is right and challenge those around you to treat others with respect. It is the body of Christ at stake here! Ask the gossiper, in love and gentleness, “Would you want someone to talk about you like that?” Stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. This certainly won’t be easy, but it is what Jesus did for you. He endured unimaginable mocking, ridicule, and torment to save you from your sins precisely because you could not do it yourself. In doing this we also keep our fellow brethren from sin, we also help bring them to the knowledge of the truth and the truth sets them free.
- When we fail to take a stand against gossip, we essentially allow a thought to enter our minds unchecked. It then begins to grow, taking hold of every detail that could make it stronger. Gossip is a direct attack against someone’s character, and when allowed to enter your mind, it begins to taint the way you view that person. When we entertain gossip, we fail to realize that tearing someone down will not give you a step up but it will cut you off at the knees. Proverbs 26:22 says that “the words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.” Gossip sinks deep into your heart, where it perverts and even causes you to question the truth.
In most times gossip comes in the guise of “helping” or it is camouflaged as a “prayer request” or given the pretense of asking for advice (normally in this case the party seeking advice is always on the right and the other one they are gossiping is wrong)”.
And in the desire to pursue holiness instead of each time brushing off gossip as as a minor and a respectable sin, by the grace of God am learning to ask myself a few questions:
- Has God given me this assignment? Or am I burdening myself to gratify my own desires? Most times we know clearly when God has not sent us to a particular person’s life, we are just there on our own terms, we are obeying ourselves! God just did not burden us with their business, we have burdened ourselves to go asking about them right, left and center. And I strongly believe that when the Lord wants me to minister to someone He will bring them my way without me working hard to investigate on them.
- Do I really love the person in discussion? I literally should put my heart to test all the time to search diligently its motives.
- Am I part of the problem or the solution? Because honestly most times we concern ourselves with what is in the slightest way our business. And even the people we decide to share a story with are neither part of the problem nor can they be part of the solution- we just want to be ‘news breakers'(trying to use a better name for a gossiper).
- What was the result of a past similar occurrence when I engaged in such a discussion?
- Is love my motivation to talk about it or am I trying to prove a point or just to give out information?
- Do I have any prejudice with the party under discussion? Because if so there is a high chance i will want to sell out the same to the other person.
If I recognize that my real motivation in participating in the issue is to enjoy being the center of other people’s lives, I break down before the Lord to ask Him for forgiveness and to deal with that insecurity that I have. I can therefore if I always find myself embroiled in the secrets of others ask a trusted person to help me out. The bible encourages us to confess our sins to one another and there is so much freedom in that. I thank God for the blessings of my friends and my mentors, among whom I find a place of confession and seek help to be kept from becoming a busy body.
To fight gossip we need to grow in love. Because “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”(Matthew 12:34). If we are quick to speak evil of others, does it not show a lot about our hearts? 1 Cor 13:4-7- “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” If this is the kind of love we have for the ones around us, the mere thought of speaking against them in secret should be terrible!
It is possible to hear a rumour and stop it and if we need further clarification we can directly approach the parties and ask for the truth from them, the Lord can help us, just the same way He graces us to stay away from all other sins.
We need also to protect our friends from sin, we can protect them by deciding not to be the originators of gossip.(Help me God)
We can also learn to free ourselves from the guilt of having gossiped others by asking the Lord to forgive us and them too so that we can restore our relationships.
May the Lord help us,