Can you think of a time that someone’s words had a great impact on you? Our words are weighty, and they truly influence the people around us. I have been convicted recently of how I have been using my tongue. I’ve caught myself indulging in gossip far too frequently. It’s so easy for me to pass along bits of information that are not mine to share in a conversation with a friend. I might not be saying anything negative about the people involved, but I still say things about them that I shouldn’t. It’s so easy for me to rationalize my sinful habit. Here’s a few reasons I found myself trying to justify my gossiping:
- I gossip because I “process things better verbally.” Sitting down with a friend over coffee seems like the perfect place to figure out that conflict happening at home or work, right? I want my friend’s wisdom in the situation, so of course I need to share every detail with her. But is verbally processing our relational drama with a friend the most biblical way to handle the situation? We see in Scripture that God is our ultimate Counselor — we need to start addressing and processing our issues with truth by first going to our Lord in prayer.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”
— Psalm 32:8, ESV
With God’s eye upon us and His counsel with us, we can walk fearlessly into relationships, not matter how messy they might seem, without the cheerleading and moral support of a gossip-filled conversation with a friend. You don’t need to debrief your demanding boss, annoying roommate, or stubborn friend over that iced latte on your next coffee date. Instead, you can meditate on what the Lord is teaching you through these circumstances, keeping the focus on Christ and His work in you instead of on the person frustrating you.
2. I also find myself gossiping when I don’t have much to talk about in my own life. When I’m feeling emotionally or spiritually stuck and don’t have anything to share with a friend, I’m prone to start talking about our mutual pals. Focusing on someone else’s problems seems so much easier than facing your own, but it is actually just using others. What we speak about in conversation with others is reflective of the state of our hearts.
“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
— Luke 6:43-45, ESV
The truth is that a heart that is not fully satisfied in Christ bears bad fruit. If there are issues in your walk with the Lord, ask your friend for prayer and advice about how to strengthen that relationship, instead of focusing on the faults or shortcomings of others. If your heart is treasuring up Christ and loving others, love and words of life will flow out of you. If this isn’t a reality for you right now, confess your sin to God and ask for His Spirit to fill you with His fruit.
3. Another way that I find myself turning to gossip in conversations is when I disguise it with an air of holiness. This often looks like turning someone I know into a “prayer request”, which truly is just a dishonoring and unloving practice. If you sincerely want prayer for this person, start in your own prayer closet, then graciously ask for it with decorum, honoring the individual by sparing unnecessary details and guarding their reputation in their conversation. If you would feel uncomfortable saying what you’re saying about them to their face, don’t say it. I also tend to default back to gossip-infused conversations when attempting to walk through messy situations as a small group. If a couple in your church broke up, or a major conflict occurred between friends, it’s natural to feel that you have to take sides. Processing through with others this might seem helpful, but please be guarded. I would again suggest starting with times of individual prayer, as God will do more through your prayers than you could ever accomplish through a conversation with a friend. He will direct you in how to unite and fortify the friend groups in your life, without dishonoring anyone or damaging their reputation.
Instead of turning to gossip to fill the gaps in our conversations or to process through the harder parts of life, followers of Christ are to first turn to the Lord in prayer. As we spend more time in prayer and in the Word, we will grow to hear His voice louder than all the gossip out there, and we will find that the Spirit enables us to bear good fruit in our conversations.
- What is God teaching you about how you converse with others?
- Do you have any other tips for combatting gossip?
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