Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Gossip Kills

“…Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”

That is Ephesians 4:24-31. Pretty straightforward stuff right? Yet we (with me at the top of the 'we list') have an awfully difficult time obeying these crystal clear instructions. Gossip is not simply spreading lies about another person. It comes in the form of venting disagreements and displeasure with another in a manner that is not motivated by building up the Body of Christ or glorifying God. I've recently had to confront this issue on two fronts-- being the target of "corrupting talk" and being the proliferator of "corrupting talk". When the former is concerned it is appropriate to do three things: 1) Consider where my own sin is instigating such talk-- even though there's no justification for "corrupting talk" rather than only be offended and hurt (which is natural we should seize the opportunity for personal examination; 2) Respond with kind confrontation-- sin needs to be addressed and not ignored but I have to guard from fueling the fire by couching justifiable confrontation with unjustifiable "corrupting talk"; and 3) Prayer for the person or persons who are participating in such behavior-- the Enemy would love to divide the Body and cause me to have anger or even hatred for a brother or sister but we cannot give him that. A battery has already been fired but do not yield the battlefield! Now to the latter-- when I am the corrupting talker-- there is two things to do: 1) Repent-- slandering the people who are slandering you does not defeat slander-- stop it and set an example of Christ-like behavior; and 2) Believe on Christ-- have faith that He will deal with those on His own and does need me taking matter in my own hand (or mouth).

Is it every appropriate to discuss "beefs" you have with another person to a third party? It is helpful to seek prayer support and seek wisdom from those who are trusted to give it. Be careful you don't go to a fool for wisdom-- they will only accompany you in your foolish tendancies and you'll just have a 'gossip and gripe' buddy. Also test your heart and make sure your motive in sharing with others is accompanied by a true desire to heal the rifts or strengthen the Body of Christ. Are you just looking for pity and are you only feeding your sense of entitlement (how you feel you deserve to be treated)? Be careful. Gossip kills. It kills joy. It kills mission. It kills fellowship. The Lord has been teaching me greatly on this and I pray we will always keep the clear instructions in Ephesians 4 as non-negotiable so that we build up the Body and glorify the LORD who endured far worse than "corrupting talk" from us to redeem us to God.

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