While many of us are launching into our new health and fitness routines, bible reading plans and general goal kicking for 2014, I have a great New Year's resolution (actually life resolution) that all of us can take on board. Stop the gossip. GOSSIP... No one likes to be the subject of it, yet many engage themselves in it.
Gossip is one of the number one cancers in The Body of Christ... actually anywhere. It brings division, causes pain, and has the potential to ruin lives and reputations.
People love to be on the inside scoop, and even make stuff up to feel like they're in the inner circle of some 'fabulous' secret. But if we're going to get real, it's just straight up partnership with the enemy.
There is little that frustrates me more as a leader and pastor in the church than gossip. Nothing good can come of it, and to be blunt, it's the coward's way out. If confrontation is necessary because of an offense you feel has been done against you, then do the person the honor of letting them know, and have a civil conversation about it. Otherwise bury it, soften your heart, and deal with the offense between you and God by exercising forgiveness. And if you're just talking for the sake of talking, I have two words for you.... stop it.
So, let me ask you some questions about Gossip:
IF YOU'RE ON THE RECEIVING END:
- When people gossip about you, does it have the power to steal your joy? Because no one has the right to take from you what is yours to have. And joy is your inheritance. (Here is my message "Joy Unspeakable" - don't let anyone steal your joy!!!)
- Really... that's my only question, because you can't control people's opinions or mouths. You can however, have self control over your life and your response.
Now some questions if you feel like you can't stop your mouth from joining in the latest gossip:
IF YOU HAVE A GOSSIP PROBLEM:
- Do you confront gossipers or do you join them? Because you do have a choice.
- Are you aware of the potential pain you are causing someone? Remember you've never walked a mile in their shoes.
- Are you aware that your in partnership with the devil... oh yeah, I said it. He's your BFF when you gossip. I know I don't want to share best friend necklaces with that guy.
- How does it make you feel when someone confronts you about gossiping? Do you justify your actions or humble yourself and zip your lip? And do you apologize and ask for forgiveness if you've hurt someone?
- Have you ever said: "Let's pray for 'so and so' everyone, I heard they're going through 'blankedy blank blank' and we just need to cover them in prayer", when really your airing their dirty laundry because somehow it makes you feel better. My advice to you: Go ahead and pray alone in your prayer closet for them, or go and pray with them if you're so burdened for them.
- Ask yourself: why do people feel free to talk to you about other people? What is it about you that invites the gossipers to share with you? Do you shut them down, or let them go on and on because somehow it makes you feel better about yourself hearing about someone else's pain?
At the end of the day the Bible is clear on gossip, and as Christians we've all got to put on our big kid pants and grow up in this area. How can we be attractive as The Church aka The Body of Christ on the earth if we blend in with the way the rest of world operates? Let's be a safe haven for each other and for those that are not yet here...
Proverbs 11:13A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.
Proverbs 16:28A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.
Proverbs 18:8The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.
Proverbs 20:19A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.
Proverbs 26:20Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.
LET'S ALL RESOLVE TO:
- Have awkward silences when people try to gossip to us about someone else. Just watch them shut down because the conversation won't go anywhere. Don't be the fan to someone else's unhealthy flame.
- Lets activate self-control when we so badly want to open our mouths and gossip without restraint. Self-Control is a Fruit of The Spirit and must be cultivated purposfully.
- If offense comes (remember it's your choice to be offended or not) confront the person with the truth in love if it is necessary. I have friends who pastor a church (Inspire Church) in Honolulu Hawaii, Mike and Lisa Kai, who have a 48 hour rule with their staff. If someone offends you, you have 48 hours to confront the person (in truth and love) otherwise bury it, and keep it between you and God. If you talk to someone else about it, your off the staff. They greatly prize unity in the Body of Christ and so should we all. It's hardcore, but I love it. Maybe you can give yourself a 48 hour rule?
- Ask yourself, is your value found in WHAT you know or WHO you know? And when I'm talking about 'who' I mean Christ. If you're not found in Him then you'll search for value being in 'the know'.
- Lastly, lets all take on board the quote below:
Instead of Gossip... Choose LOVE.
Mark 12:31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
Luke 6:31Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Luke 6:35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
Romans 12:9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Love trumps all...
Finally, here are a few thoughts on gossip from a few friends in my world...
"Instead of just abstaining from gossip and harmful words, I think it's important to REPLACE them with life-giving words. For me, I really make it a point to compliment and encourage my (girl) friends as much as I can. I think that's another great way to reverse the "norm" of speaking badly about others!" - Gracie - Girl Meets Life
"I think people with a gossip problem have a deeper issue with feeling valuable. I know that was what was at the core of it for me. Having information meant I had value. Sharing that info meant I was valuable. " - Chad
"I like to remember Proverbs 27:5 - "Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend." when offering a true perspective if someone is being a gossip. God says not to be the gossip, but also not to surround yourself with "chatterers." (proverbs 20:19) Also 1 Corinthians 15:33 says 'bad company corrupts good character' and being around it without saying anything doesn't mean you're not a part of it or not being effected by it. It can corrupt you just being around it. Above all else, loving a neighbor as yourself means caring enough about a person to not allow the possibility of lies and evil being spread over their name." - Shawna - EverBe
"My husband told me - it takes 21 days to break a habit. I know personally I have several bad habits. I bite my nails, eat lots of sugary food, and complain a lot.
I decided I wanted to do the challenge. For me, the first habit I want to kick is complaining + gossiping. They are completely fruitless in my life and both create this vast downward spiral. I don't gossip about friends, but at times I'll make fun of someone to my friends and feel really bad about it later.
I just don't want to be that person anymore.
The problem with habits is, you don't usually realize you're doing it. Take complaining for example. If I'm having a hard day at work - it's easy to complain - I feel justification in doing so. However, that's not the kind of attitude I want.
Parker told me - you can't just stop doing something. You need to replace it with something else. So for 21 days - I'm replacing complaining with thankfulness. I'm also replacing gossip with gathering.
I welcome you to break a bad habit with me. I'd love to know what habit your breaking and the progress." - Jessi - Modern Wonderland