“Gossip is the devil’s radio.” ~George Harrison
I am continuing my study of “God’s Beautiful Design for Women, Living Out Titus 2:1-5” by Nancy DeMoss Wogelmuth at Revive Our Hearts.
What is gossip?
Gossip is sharing things about others that should not be shared. Society has a false sense of what gossip is. It is often believed if something is true it isn’t gossip. Christians should be very careful not to share gossip, or even listen to it. There are more than 25 verses in God’s Word about gossip, and NONE of those encourage gossip. (https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Gossip)
Before my husband was my “boyfriend” we were spending time long distance, getting to know each other. One evening, we were talking on the phone. I was sharing an incident that happened to someone during the day. This would be someone he would in no way know, but he stopped me mid-story and asked me, “Do I need to know this? I am not part of the problem or part of the solution, so I don’t need to know this. This is gossip.” Over the next few days, I spent much time in prayer and realized most of my conversations with others were not meaningful conversation at all, but gossip.
In the study today, this was shared:
“Before you say something, ask yourself this question: ‘Is the person you’re telling a part of the problem or a part of the solution?’ If they’re not a part of the problem, and they’re not a part of the solution, then probably it’s something you should not be saying.”
When it comes to gossip, do we have hearts of kindness and tenderness? Are we forgiving an gracious? Are we intentional to build up? Or is it easier for us to “Share the news” and tear down and divide?
As Christian women, “we need to put on a heart and words of kindness and love and forgiveness and grace—not just put off the slander, but replace the slander with a heart of kindness and goodness and grace and love. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). Be intentional about speaking words that edify, that build up, that put other people in a positive light.”
How often do we find ourselves going in to work or spending time with a friend and go in asking, “What do you know?” or “Did you hear?” and then, if the friend did hear, our ears perk up to hear more than we knew.
“We need to be careful about having this unholy curiosity, a desire to know things about other people. Bring those thoughts captive, rein them in.”
Psalm 19, “let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart [not just what I say, but what I think, Lord] be acceptable in Your sight, Oh Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (v. 14). Bring your thought life under the control of the Spirit.”
Everyone who knows me, knows I never meet a stranger. I am a “story teller” and I love to share stories of all the many things that have happened in my life and the experiences I have had. I like to talk!! It is a hobby of mine! What God has shown me so many times is talking too much gets me on the devil’s phone. I have an audience, I often have people laughing, and while my life experiences are rich enough I don’t have to exaggerate them, I will frequently share too much information that involves others. As a godly woman I need to know when to hang up and talk less.
“Very simple. Proverbs chapter 10,
When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable [when there are many words—did you get that?—transgression is unavoidable. You will sin if you talk too much. I will sin, I do sin when I talk too much.] But he who restrains his lips is prudent (v. 19, NASB).James 1, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (v. 19, emphasis added).”
Say less, and you have less chance of sinning. The more time you spend on the phone, the more time you spend in conversation with others, the more careful you have to be, especially if you tend to be a talkative person, or if the person you’re talking to tends to be a talkative person. Learn to restrain your lips, to keep confidences, not to repeat things that you don’t have the freedom to repeat, and if you’re not sure—don’t say it. Don’t ask unnecessary questions.
We should think before we speak.
Ask yourself these kinds of questions:
- Is it true?
Do I know for a fact that it’s true? That’s especially important. When you’re hearing about a conflict and you’re only hearing one side, remember that you’re only hearing one side. “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it’s a folly and a shame to him” (Prov. 18:13). You do not know all the facts if you’re only hearing one person describe the situation.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a husband describe what the frustration is about his marriage, and then I’ve heard the wife describe her frustrations about their marriage, and I think, These are two different marriages—two totally different perspectives. If you’re only listening to one side, you don’t know what you’re hearing is true, so don’t assume that it’s the whole picture.
- Is it true?
- Is it kind?
- Will it build up, will it edify the person of whom I’m speaking?
- Is it necessary?
- Does the person I’m talking to need to know this?
- If this were about me, would I want it shared with someone else?
Here’s one that would just cut out a lot of what we say:
- Would I mind if the person I’m talking about were standing right here? Would I be willing to say it to their face?
Oh, that’s why the Psalmist prayed, “Set a guard, Oh Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! (141:3). Think before you speak.
After realizing how much of my conversations with friends was gossip, one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do was tell my friends I couldn’t gossip with them anymore. It hurt feelings, mine and theirs. I continued to pray about it and found peace in knowing I had done what I needed to do, and in the end, pleasing God has to be my goal, more than pleasing my friends. Do I fail? OH, I fail miserably at times, but my focus, my goal, my desire, is to be pleasing to God.
So what if we don’t share the gossip, but just sit there while others are sharing with us? Have you ever been daring enough to find something positive to share about the person being gossiped about?
Refuse to listen to slander or gossip about others. Refuse to listen to it. Not only to spread it, but to listen to it.
First Samuel 24, verse 9, David said to Saul, who was out to destroy him, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say ‘Behold, David seeks your harm.’?” Why do you listen to that? Saul listened to people who said that. He believed what he heard, and as a result, he set out to destroy David. Don’t listen to it. Steer the conversation to another topic, or turn it to build up the person who’s being talked about.
I think, especially for women, gossip is one of the hardest sins to steer away from, one of the hardest habits to break, and often, we don’t even realize we have participated.
Now we need to let God take this matter home to our hearts and convict us and change us where needed. We talked about the word for slander being diabolos. It’s a word that is a name for Satan—Satan who accuses us before the Father, condemns us, lies about us. He accuses us.
But on the other hand we have one who advocates for us. “We have an advocate with the Father if anyone sins, Jesus Christ the Righteous” (1 John 2:1). You see, Jesus, like Satan, knows that we have sinned, yet He defends us before the Throne of God. He pleads our case before God on the basis of His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins.
So as you speak about other believers, are you accusing them as the devil does? Or are you advocating for them as Jesus does for you? Are you being like Jesus? Or are you being like Satan?
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29).
Words can also be used to encourage, to strengthen, to build up others, so use your tongue for that purpose. Think about all the grace you have received from God and from others, and then use your tongue to minister grace to others as you have received it.
Oh God, continue to show me my sin, especially in this area. Change my heart to recognize sin. Guard my tongue from spreading sin. Help me to not be an accuser, but an encourager. Help me to show grace and truth in every conversation. I pray in the Name of Jesus, Amen.