A Christianís approach to life situations part 5
Gossip is another thing that many Christians have to battle against on daily basis. In this lesson I want to show what the Bible says about gossip and what we can do to prevent ourselves from getting caught up in gossip.
Letís take a look at couple of different definitions of gossip.
A report (often malicious) about the behavior of other people. A person given to gossiping and divulging personal information about others (Word Web).
A person who spreads rumors or idle, fruitless tales (Nelsonís Bible Dictionary).
Slander, slanderer, tale bearer, informer (Strongís Hebrew† Dictonary)
For the most part, telling the secrets of other is bad thing. However, there is also times when it is good to tell secrets or to be an informer and this is when these secrets can be used to help save a life or to help someone stop sinning. For example, when Paul was rescued from the angry mob in Acts 21 who believed the false rumor that he had taken a Gentile into the temple area. We find out that there were some Jews that were plotting against him to take his life.
Acts 23:12 And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.† 13 Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy.† 14 They came to the chief priests and elders, and said, "We have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul.† 15 "Now you, therefore, together with the council, suggest to the commander that he be brought down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to make further inquiries concerning him; but we are ready to kill him before he comes near."† 16 So when Paul's sister's son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul.
Here is great example when revealing a secret is good because it saved Paulís life. However you need to realize that sometimes even when you are being a informer for the right reasons the person you have told on may hate you for what you have done.
Genesis 37:2 †This is the history of Jacob. Joseph, being
seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers. And the lad was
with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives; and
Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father.† 3 Now
Since Joseph was quick to tell about his brothers when they were not doing what they were supposed to being doing combined with the fact that their father loved him more caused them to hate him.
With this in mind I have message for the young children. There is nothing wrong with telling on your brother or your sister when they are doing something that may harm them or someone else or if they are doing something that mom or dad told them not to do. For instance, if you see them trying to juggle the kitchen knifes you need to tell on them. Now, they may get mad at you for doing so, but it they will get over it. Now, you donít need to tell on your brother and sister for ever little small thing they do because that is not necessary and it will drive your parents crazy.
Sometimes you might have a friend our loved one who confides in you and wants your advice. However, you may not be able to help them because you have never deal with the problem they are having. So, it certainly acceptable to ask someone that you respect that might give you some insight to the problem they are having and as far as that goes you donít have to mention any names. In this situation, you are not slandering the person name nor or you trying to spread anything, you are just trying to find out the best way to help that person. So, this would be another good way that sharing a personís secret can be used in positive way to help someone.
So, basically the only good kind of gossip where secrets are revealed is when it will benefit someone in a positive way or keep someone from falling away from God.
Now, letís take a look at the bad kind of gossip. From the definitions we looked at earlier you can see that that gossip can be very destructive when used for the wrong reasons such as destroying a person reputation or value just because you want having something to talk about. It shouldnít surprise us that a lot people have this problem because we have been trained by the media that gossip is something wonderful. That is why there are countless magazine that do nothing but gossip about the dirt on the celebrities. The worst the news, the more magazines they sell. This type of gossip is worldly and Christians should avoid it all cost.
Let take a look at some of things the Bible says motivates a person to gossip our slander another person.
Psalm 41:7 All who hate me whisper together against me; Against me they devise my hurt. ††
A great example of this is those who hated John the Baptist and Jesus. Notice what false things they spread about John and Jesus.
Matthew 11:18 "For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.'† 19 "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' But wisdom is justified by her children."
Proverbs 16:28 A perverse man sows strife, And a whisperer separates the best of friends.
Proverbs 10:18 †Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, And whoever spreads slander is a fool.
Acts 17:21 For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.
The Athenians are described well by,
Proverbs 26:22 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.
Some are motivated by jealousy. When a person is jealous of someone because of who they are or because of what they have they will spread as many false rumors as they can to try and destroy their reputation, so they wonít have anything to be jealous of anymore.
Others are motivated by low self esteem. When they see someone that is confident in themselves and seems to always do the right thing, they will find any bad news they can about the person and they will drive into the ground. The reason they do this is because in their mind when they slander someone else it makes them feel better about themselves. This is same thing a bully does as school. Usually you will find that they have a low self esteem and they have been bullied by an older sibling or even a parent and so they bully other people to make themselves feel bigger and better even though they hate it when it is done to them. †
Finally some are motivated by self-righteousness. They think so highly of themselves that if they find someone they† donít like perhaps because that person is more righteous than they are they will do everything in the power to find a way to put that person below them in their eyes even it means lying about that person.
These are some of the ways that motive some people to gossip, which doesnít do anything but hurt another person. This is why the Bible doesnít have anything good to say about this type of gossip.
Proverbs 20:19 He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.
Not only are we not to be a gossiper we are stay away from those who are.
Leviticus 19:16 'You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.
God did not tolerate gossip under Moses Law and He doesnít tolerate it under Christís Law. In fact those who continue to gossip can lose their soul.
Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;† 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,† 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,† 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;† 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
Since gossip is sinful and falls in line with all these other sinful acts, Paul was concerned about some churches getting involved in gossip.
2 Corinthians 12:20 For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults;† 21 lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced.
Sometimes we can become so nosey and so willing to spread information about others that we can cause all kinds of problems for a congregation. When we start focusing in on what someone did, which is non of business in the fist place, we become distracted and it will effect our worship to God.
Now I want you to think about the eldership. The Elder and his wife should be the greatest example of what a Christian is supposed to be like. The Elders have to discuss very sensitive information about the flock sometimes and you certainly wouldnít want them going around spreading everything they know about person when it supposed to be kept secret. Did you know that a gossiping wife can keep a qualified man from becoming an elder and it can cause a elder to have to step down.
1 Timothy 3:11 †Likewise their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things.
Now this verse is the section about the deacons, but most commentators and I believe this is referring to both the deaconís wife and the elderís wife. Notice they are not to be slanders, which is associated with gossip. The last thing anyone would want is for what they told the eldership in private being spread throughout the congregation. Obviously that would not be good.
Another thing that causes some to gossip is having to much time on their hands. This is why Paul makes the following suggestion in regards to widows
1 Timothy 5:11 But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry,† 12 having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith.† 13 And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.† 14 Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully.† 15 For some have already turned aside after Satan..
Notice, those who have allowed themselves to have too much time on their hands and have became gossips and busybodies have turned themselves over to Satan. So, as you can see there is nothing good about this kind of gossip and as Christians we must learn to stay away from it, so we donít lose our soul.
Now that we have looked at the evils of gossip I know want to give you some good advice on how to avoid gossip.
First, you need to remind yourself how powerful and destructive your words can be.
James 3:5 †Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! †
This is great illustration of what gossip can do. It may start out innocent enough, but it can grow into a forest fire that is out of control. What does a person do to keep a camp fire in control? They watch it closely and if a ember jumps out of the fire and lands on the nearby grass you will stomp it out. Well, in the same way we must watch our tongue very carefully and if we find ourselves about to gossip we need to stop those words from every leaving our mouth so we can prevent destruction from occurring.
Second, we need to recognize how gossip can be disguised. If someone says, ďDonít quote me on thisĒ or ďI probably shouldnít say thisĒ or ďI donít like to talk about people butĒ. These are phrases that should set off an alarm in our head not to continue listening or to continue what we were about to say. A good rule to follow that will help you not to say things that you will regret is simply rhyme and it goes like this, ďWhen in doubt, leave it out.Ē I also like the one that our parents have told us over and over again, ďIf you donít have anything good to say then donít say anything at all.Ē
Third, we need to remind ourselves that even though we may love to hear gossip and that it may bring us some pleasure it always temporary and it is not worth jeopardizing our relationship with God. Of course this applies to any sin that we may engage in.
Fourth, if we struggle with this sin, we need to pray to God everyday for the strength to overcome the temptation to gossip and He will help us in this area.
Fifth, I want to give you several questions you should ask yourself before you tell somebody some gossip that will help you determine if what you are about to say is helpful are harmful.
What is my attitude in this situation?
Are my words being said because of anger, jealousy, pride or some other selfish motive?
Would I say this even if the person involved were listening?
Will my words improve the situation in anyway?
Will my words be hurtful or harmful in someway?
If the roles were reversed, would I want someone to repeat these words that I told them?
Questions like these will help us to determine if what we are about to say will be helpful or harmful. So, if we will remind ourselves of these things and ask ourselves these questions we can gain control of gossip and make sure it doesnít cause any unnecessary harm to others and so it doesnít cause us to lose our soul to the devil.
In this lesson we have learned what the Bible says about gossip. There are times when gossip can be good when it used to save a life or to help someone overcome sin in their life. However, gossip can also be used in a sinful way when it is done with the wrong attitude and all it does is causes unnecessary harm to another. This kind of gossip is a sin and can cause you to lose your soul. Finally we looked at several ways that that we make sure that we donít get caught up in this sinful type of gossip.
The last thing I want to share with you is verse and picture by Norman Rockwell that goes along with it.
Ecclesiastes 10:20 †Do not curse the king, even in your thought; Do not curse the rich, even in your bedroom; For a bird of the air may carry your voice, And a bird in flight may tell the matter.†