Gossip, An Abomination in the Church
These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren. Proverbs 6:16-18.
Are any of these abominations an issue in the Church. The answer is yes. Several of them are issues. Many of us can see many people who fit one or more of these. However, there is one particular abomination occurrs more than on an occasion; this abomination all to common. That is: One who sows discord among brethren. The writer of the proverb is essentially talking about gossip. Gossip has called more hurt and pain in the Church than any other sin. Whether it is true or exaggerated or completely contrived, it is all Gossip and God hates it. Some people are just gossiping fools and we all know at least one of them. You can not trust them with any information because they just can't wait to run off and tell other people. These people are foolish even though they may not be trying to hurt people, but that is how they socialize. Other gossipers are malicious and are trying to hurt others. They have a motive for what they are doing. These types will usually embellish the truth or completely contrive false information about someone. Other people that gossip are just talking too much and eventually spill some gossip in passing.
Whatever the reason, it is all gossip and we need to check our spirits before talking about others. If a person being talked about is not present, it is gossip. It is called talking behind their back. So what if you don't spread gossip, are you free from the gossip chain. The answer is no. If you listen to gossip, you are just as wrong as the person telling it to you. If you want to live a Christian life, you have to keep all gossip out and that includes listening to it.
This becomes a very uncomfortable situation if someone has to break away from a person spreading the gossip. There are passive people who will just sit there and listen. They might not even hear it, but the feel too uncomfortable to walk away or change the topic or rebuke the gossiper. The other person may be too aggressive and either just walk away or harshly rebuke the gossiper, offending them and making the situation worse. The correct thing to do is to softly rebuke the person. Allow them to understand that you don't feel comfortable about the conversation as in the example below:
"Jane, did you hear the latest news about Sally" "You're not going to believe this!"
"Mary, I don't really feel comfortable about talking about Mary's personal life, especially when she isn't present."
Jane told Mary in a loving, assertive manner that she was uncomfortable with the conversation. It was the right thing to do. Jane doesn't have to listen to the gossip and Mary is forced with the realization that she is telling gossip. What Mary did is very common in the Church body. How Jane responded isn't so common. Unfortunately, this type of gossip is a fairly easy to recognize. However, there is a type of gossip far more difficult to recognize. It is nicely wrapped like a gift. You may have run into it. It goes something like this:
"Jane, I heard some terrible news about Sally and think we should pray for her." Mary exclaims.
"What's the matter with Sally?", Jane asks with a look of concern.
Mary, leaning in toward Jane, "Sally's husband has been cheating on her with his secretary. We should pray that God restores their marriage."
"You're right, Mary this is terrible, I will definitely keep them in my prayers."
Do you see the subtleness of the gossip. Jane didn't know about Sally's marriage, and I highly doubt Sally wants other people to know about her marriage issues. It is a very personal matter. Some people might say that there is nothing wrong with what Mary did because they believe Mary really does have concern and really does want to pray. Although this may be true, it certainly isn't the proper way to go about it. If Mary knows about the affair, then Mary should pray, but she does not need to involve someone that did not know. And even if Jane already knew about the affair, discussing the topic and wrapping it in prayer is like putting perfume on a skunk.
Plain and simple, gossip is gossip, whether it is malicious, unintentional, casual or hidden behind the veil of prayer, it is gossip. We need to recognize it an nip it in the bud. The person spreading it needs to be rebuked and it needs to be done with finesse by speaking the truth in love. Gossip is the most common of these abominations that God hates and is much to common in the Church.
I apologize if I any have offended anyone, but what is written is based on truth and one must check their Spirit to see if what you are about to say is what Jesus would want to discuss or if what you are hearing is something that Jesus would want to listen to.
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