"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, November 30, 2012

* DEAL OR NO DEAL - Part 1

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV 1984)  "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."

During a recent discussion with a group of women the topic of gossip was approached.  Specifically addressed was 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 want 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 and considered 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 raced as many thoughts invaded its space.

It occurred to me that the truth is, many times, we are tempted to gossip about others because there is 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.  Like a pot of boiling water, it's only a matter of time before we spill over.  When words spew out they are often contrary to Paul's teaching in Ephesians 4:29.  Our words are unwholesome, unhelpful and not beneficial to anyone.  

We aren't justified to talk about 'things' with others, except for the person it directly involves.  
Inadvertently, we gossip when we do this.  If we have an unsettled grievance in our heart with another person it will eventually make its way out of our mouth.  "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks," Matthew12:34 reminds us.     

Gossiping about a situation with others is not the biblical way to handle 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 cultural expectations.  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 their answer is "yes," then I intervene to further the conciliation process.

When a person is 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 when conflict is present.  Talking issues out with others is God's expectation for us.   

Back to the original question, "What do you do when others share gossip with you?"  Instead of just diverting the conversation, encourage them to deal with the greater issue at hand.  

Ask one simple question: "Have you tried to talk this out with ___________ ?"  In addition, you could say, "I understand you are hurt, (upset, etc. ), but God's Word teaches us to go directly to him/her to try and work out the situation.  I would urge you to go to _____________ in hopes of resolving this conflict and restoring your relationship."

Honestly, who enjoys conflict?  Even more so is that many people do not like to handle conflict.  In reality, resolving conflict is the biblical thing to do no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel.  

Remember, the enemy is pleased when their is broken and fractured fellowship 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 we might hope when trying to work out a situation.  Maybe they don't want to deal with it or they don't feel they've done anything wrong and even possibly some are not ready to take responsibility for their part.  Even still, sometimes people will have to agree to disagree on things.  

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.

The side effects of unresolved issues will eventually make their verbal entrance into the world. Let's choose to honor God with our tongues.  Inspire 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 ________________?"

Have you considered how unresolved conflict has led you to gossip?

Heart Exam:

Is my tongue headed 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?  Is there any conflict needing to be settled?

Heart Transforming Word:

Proverbs 13:3 (NIV 1984) "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.  Edited 2012.  All rights reserved.