Ephesians 4:29 "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
Last Wednesday morning at the park our ladies Bible study was covering the third session of our material, Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa Terkeurst. This session was specifically addressing our relationships with other women and how our tongue can get us into trouble. The familiar question was asked, "What do you do when others are wanting to share gossip with you?" One lady suggested diverting the conversation to talk about something different. Not a bad suggestion and it certainly could help depending on the circumstance.
As I sat there considering the options, I really began to ask myself, "What is the root to gossip? I mean, why do women want to talk to others about others? What is the deal?" Then I thought, "What is it about gossip that makes us feel so justified in sharing with others?" My mind was racing as many thoughts were invading its space.
Through many years of counsel and others sharing their burdens with me, it occurred to me that the truth is, many times, we are tempted to gossip about others because there is a conflict or an unresolved issue with the other person. With this stated, we have a choice to make, we can sit and stew over the issue or we can go directly to that person and deal with the issue in hopes of reconciliation.
When we sit and stew over an unsettled issue it starts to manifest itself by the words that come from our mouth. It is like a pot of boiling water ready to spill over. We then feel justified to "talk" about it with others except for the person it directly involves. Inadvertently, we are gossiping when we do this. "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks" Matthew12:34 tells us. If we have an unsettled grievance in our heart with another person it will eventually make its way out of our mouth. When it spews out we are not following the instructions of Ephesians 4:29.
Wanting to gossip about a situation with others is not the way to handle the hurt or conflict in our hearts. Matthew 18:15-17 gives us a pattern for handling relational conflict. The principle found in this passage is clear, go to the other person and work it out. Deal with it. Of course, this is contrary to popular belief or counsel, however, it is biblical truth. When one of my boys comes to me ready to tattle on the other, my first question to them is, "Have you tried to talk this out with your brother?" If they answer "No", then off I send them to work it out. If the answer is yes, then I intervene to further the conciliation process.
If a person has been wounded by another, a spiritually mature person will do what they can to work the situation out in hopes of restoration. A spiritually mature person will desire to have peace in relationships. Peace is not present if conflict is present. Talking issues out with the other person is what God expects of us. Sometimes people will have to agree to disagree on things. Other times a hurt needs to be healed.
Back to the original question, "What do you do when others are wanting to share gossip with you?" Instead of just diverting the conversation, my encouragement is to have them deal with the greater issue at hand. Ask one simple question: "Have you tried to talk this out with ___________ ?" In addition, I would tell them, "I understand you are hurt, (upset, etc. ), God's Word teaches us to go directly to that person to try and work out the situation. I would encourage you to go to _____________ in hopes of resolving this conflict and restoring your relationship."
Some people do not like to handle conflict. For many it takes them out of their comfort zones, but in reality, it is the right thing to do no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel. Remember, the enemy is pleased when their is broken and fractured relationships between people, especially Christians. The enemy does not want restoration and healing. We are less effective in Kingdom building when their is conflict among believers.
Unfortunately, some people will not respond the way you might hope when trying to work out a situation. Maybe they don't want to deal with it or maybe they don't feel they have done anything wrong. When you have done all you can to work out a conflict you can be assured you have done what is right. Put the situation in God's hands. Allow His Spirit to work on each person's heart. A friend recently told me, "Restoration may not be possible but forgiveness is." We must choose to forgive the other person and move on. Forgiveness is hard and humbling, yet necessary for our own spiritual health and growth.
Press on dear ones. Let's choose to honor God with our tongues. Let's encourage our fellow friends and sisters to refuse to gossip and instead, handle their hurt biblically. Your comments are appreciated at any time. Please follow me next week for Part 2 of "Deal or No Deal?"
Heart Work:Pray before you get together with friends and ask God to help you not gossip or entertain it from another. Prepare yourself mentally and start implementing the above question, "Have you talked this out with ________?"
Heart Examination:Is my tongue heading for trouble? When have I dishonored the Lord this week by sharing too much with another? Confess it to the Lord. Who do I need to make things right with?
Heart Changing Word:Proverbs 13:3 (NIV) "He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin."
Proverbs 6:16-19 "There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers."
James 3:6a & 8 "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person." vs. 8 "But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison."
Copyright 2010 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.