Truth of love: Gossip

Friday, August 10, 2018

The old chant, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me,” often a retort to taunting/bullying also includes gossip but the chant is wrong. The truth is words do hurt. But what exactly is gossip?

Gossip, speaking and listening about someone’s situation that doesn’t involve us or personally affect us results in slander. The sharing of private information with others who are not part of the problem or part of the solution is gossip/slander. Slander is a spoken statement that hurts a person’s reputation. The original covenant (Leviticus 19:16) states, “You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, nor shall you stand by while the life of your neighbor is in danger: I am the Lord.”

Slander/gossip can affect one’s livelihood. Who wants to do business with a person of bad reputation? Acts of mercy and charity may cease, as in a rest home resident not receiving visitors because of words spoken against them by a disgruntled relative.

Don’t be guilty of listening to gossip, because you are then a participant. The Apostle Paul feared that he would find debates, envying, wrath, strife, backbiting, whispering, arrogance, and disorder upon visiting the church of Corinth (2 Corinthians 12:20). In 1 Timothy 5:13 he warns about younger widows “….but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they ought not.” He taught us how gossip/slander damages community.

Maybe we have made a mistake in our perception of a situation; if we have, the best thing is to go directly to the person in question and open ourselves up to that person’s correction of our misinterpretation. The understanding of a situation can bring us to apologize, but on the other hand if our observation is correct and the person’s words or actions in some way caused another or ourselves real harm, then that person is given the opportunity to repent and “thous hast gained thy brother.”

Matthew 18:15 teaches us to confront the talebearer and, if necessary, bring a witness. I did this to a surprised woman whose response was I had to forgive her. Informing her I already had but as she was guilty I did not have to associate with her. Presented with the teaching of repentance to the Lord because she had victimized others with slander, she realized why she was friendless and merely tolerated. She had to decide to repent and walk in love.

James (Jacob) 4:11,12 “Do not speak evil of one another…...Who are you to judge another?” We are also to have compassion for the instigator because they are seeking attention, albeit in a negative manner. We need to pray for them, invite them to be a positive active member in the body of Messiah/Christ, but always stop them by saying, “Let us pray right now.”

The Messiah taught us how to behave toward each other, summed up by three words, “Love one another.” Three words that eliminate negative behavior because to love your neighbor as yourself would never include gossip/slander.

Our chats, talks and sometimes heart-to-heart conversations may spread rumors, circulating falsehoods that are based on nothing but also reveal more about the character of the tale bearer.

Remember the spiritual law of sowing and reaping. If you listen, accept and spread someone’s gossip, what will they say about you later behind your back?

Yeshua/Jesus taught we should bless our enemies and pray for those that persecute us. Years ago one of my mentors gave me permission to talk about anyone anytime. I was shocked, but when he added the condition that I must then pray for them for one hour I was convicted. Are you willing to pray for the person you spoke/listened about for one hour? If we are to be holy and faithful followers of Messiah/Christ should we not want to pray for a person rather than speak negatively?

One scriptural alternative to gossip taught by Yeshua/Jesus is, “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound on heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 18:18) If in doubt about participation in gossip, ask yourself does this involve me, why am I not praying? Are my words a blessing or a curse?

We can humbly examine ourselves and clean the slate by sincerely praying a simple prayer, such as, “I repent, Lord, and ask forgiveness for participating in gossip, both by listening and/or passing it on. May the words of my mouth be acceptable in your sight, Lord. I willing put a guard before my mouth and ask that you convict me immediately to cease gossip by prayer and love. May the meditation of my heart, thoughts and what I listen to be honorable and acceptable to you. I pray this in the name of Yeshua/Jesus the Christ. Amen”

May we always walk in the love of the Lord to one another.

Blessings and Shalom