Monday, January 30, 2012

Pick a Little, Talk a Little

Do you know that there is a disease that is rampant in the modern Church?  It eats the Church alive, from the inside out; and is like a repulsive decay that destroys so much potential for beauty and productivity.  It kills any godly endeavor one may possess, and is the root cause of an innumerable amount of issues that can take years to recover from.  

It is gossip.

When most people hear the word "gossip", they think of elderly women playing Bridge, teenagers in high school, ladies in the beauty parlor or gentlemen gathering at the local cafe.  But when I hear the word "gossip", I have an instant picture of the Church in mind...and it ought not to be so.

Gossip is like termites.  Everything looks good on the outside, and before you know it, it is all caving in underneath you.  While things appeared to be just peachy, there was a silent killer eating away at anything viable underneath.  This is not what we are called to; THIS, this is what we are called to: 

"Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." Ephesians 4:29

Are our conversations edifying?  If Jesus was standing in our midst, would He be pleased with the words that are coming out of our mouths?  What if the person who we were discussing were in our presence...would we change the topic of our discussion?  You see, we get so caught up in our selfish motives, that we don't look ahead at all.  We don't care what kind of damage we can do with our words, just as long as we feel good while we are doing it.  

This is tragic!  Look what just a fraction of the verses in Proverbs says about our mouths...

"Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee."  Proverbs 4:24

"For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.  All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them."  Proverbs 8:7-8

"The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate." Proverbs 8:13

"The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out.  The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness."  Proverbs 10:31-32

"An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered." Proverbs 11:9

"He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction." Proverbs 13:3

We don't understand how much power we hold in our tongues.  James says:

"For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.  Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.  Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.  Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.  For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind.  But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.  Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.  Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?  Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh."  James 3:2-12

Taming our tongues is vital!  If the world hears our gossipy voices, they are going to be able to see right through us and come to the conclusion that we are just like them.  They gossip and so do we!  Why should they desire a Savior when we have One and indulge in the same sins that they do?  

When we take our words and use them to manipulate others' opinions of each other, we are treading in dangerous waters.  God is not pleased with these kinds of actions.  He has told us over and over again in His word, that we need to use our tongues for His glory and the edification of His Church.  Now, I am not against lighthearted conversations, they can be edifying if they are lifting your spirits and encouraging you to pursue the furtherance of the Kingdom with joy!  That is a great thing!  But if you get joy out of bashing your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, then that is cause for genuine concern.  

When someone does something that rubs you the wrong way, or that just didn't appeal to you, and you go to someone else and attempt to get them to feel the same way as you do towards that person, then you are in sin.  If someone has sinned against you and you go to another brother or sister in the Lord to ask for prayer regarding the scenario, that is a little different; but if you go and ask for prayer just as an excuse to talk bad about someone, then you are in the wrong.  

Gossip will destroy a Church faster than a wildfire.  It divides the Body and wounds spirits.  Going to Church on Sunday merely so you can get the latest "news" or "dirt" about everything that went on that week, is a severe offense in the eyes of God.  We should be using our tongues for something beautiful; not ugly and deceitful!

We as young women fall into this so easily.  Someone rubs us the wrong way and we are on them like flies on honey.  We want everyone else to have a low opinion of them too, we want them to feel less, we want them to be the outcast and we want to feel superior to them in our friendships with others.  It is a dirty business.  It is repulsive and disgusting.  It makes ugly hearts and will eventually show up on our faces and in our actions.  We want to radiate the beauty of Jesus Christ and convey the tender feminine heart that He bestowed upon us!  How dare we pick up something so horrid and wicked and claim that as our prized possession!  

Girls, what are we doing?  

Forming cliques and leaving people out is all worldly!  Why do we do this?  Because we want to feel good.  We don't give any thought about being Jesus to others, we want to feel like the Queen Bee.  What about being a servant?  What about denying our flesh and stepping outside of our comfort zone?  What about confronting the sin of gossip when it is right in front of our eyes?  

Why are we so scared?  Because when people gossip to you, you know they will gossip about you.  We don't want to be gossiped about!  I don't want to be gossiped about!  Nobody does!  But are we willing to give up a seemingly good reputation for the sake of God's glory?  I mean, if someone is going to gossip about you because you decided not to gossip with them, that's a pretty good reason to be gossiped about.  

Part of why girls gossip in particular is that they are immensely competitive.  They see a girl who they think is prettier or smarter than them, or who they feel is getting more attention or the guys like better and they instantly conjure up a complex plot to bring them down in the form of gossip.  They want everyone to dislike them as much as they do, so they go to this person and that person and start a rumor mill that will eventually leave somebody in tears... and it's usually the victim of the gossip.  

Do you see what the common thread is with gossip and rumors?

It is pride.

Someone's pride gets wounded, or threatened, and that's when gossip is at its strongest.  If we could only heed the warnings of pride found in the Scriptures, and put on humility, we could find that avoiding the temptation to gossip becomes a lot easier.

"The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate."  Proverbs 8:13

"Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom."  Proverbs 13:10

"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."  Proverbs 16:18

"A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit."  Proverbs 29:23

Gossip is so dangerous.  It comes from a place deep within ourselves.  It isn't like children throwing toys at each other, it is deeper than that.  We are attempting to hurt people and cut them in their souls!  We are trying to would their spirits and make them feel less than ourselves.  That is not what we were called to do!  We were called to put others before us.  Gossip is a reflection of the ugly reflection of the heart.  It also show a real lack of compassion and empathy.  Listen to the words of Jesus with regard as to what comes from within:

"And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.  For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:  All these evil things come from within, and defile the man."  Mark 7:20-23 

*emphasis mine

If we could only obtain a birds eye view of the damage that is done on behalf of gossip!  Why is it so hard for us to understand that it is a reflection of what is in our hearts and it isn't pretty?  Gossip is a venomous plague that leads to brokenness and destruction.  We need to be evaluating our hearts and make sure that we are actually being light, not just reflecting it.  This life isn't about how good we felt or how popular we were, it is about something huge, something glorious!  It is a tiny window in the vastness of time, and it is so short.  Why would we waste our opportunity to further the Kingdom, on something as silly and superficial as gossip?  It certainly isn't a Gospel mindset.  If our conversation would make someone think that we might not be a Christian, then we ought to be ashamed.  We need to repent and beg God to forgive us for wounding others with our words, and to give us the grace to seek repentance from those we have hurt.

May God soften our hearts and show us our sin!  May He pour out an abundance of grace so that we may keep our eyes on Jesus.  And may we always have an eternal perspective in our minds, rather than just always living in the moment and pleasing ourselves.  

"...and be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.'  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."  1 Peter 5:5-8


Anonymous said...

Thank you Shelby, I think another way we gossip - maybe without always realizing what we are doing - is through prayer requests. It is so easy to spill all the "details" to avidly listening (& hopefully praying!) friends. Even if we don't go around talking unkindly about others "in public" or (to the church in general!) we should be very careful to guard ourselves against giving too much information in prayer requests for others (that is not ours to give). This is something the Lord has convicted me of several times over the past year. It is hard sometimes to know how to give a request for someone without "context" (that as you said, will probably result in putting them down) but we should trust that the Lord knows just what is needed.
This really hit me in the face through my youngest sister at prayer meeting one day last fall. Our family was aware of a sad situation in another family that didn't attend our church. My sister & I attended prayer meeting together that night and as we were going around giving requests, she launched into a very detailed description of all the problems PLUS her & our opinions on the situtation! YIKES! (Somehow kicking her under the seat didn't work!;) )
We are to be a people exemplified by LOVE toward God & one another. May that become the rule by which we govern our tongues... "and the law of kindness is on her tongue."

Shelby Courtney said...

Thank you, Sarah! That is wonderful advice!!

Jacqueline @ said...

The N. Rockwell fits this so well. I think, with women especially, this is a huge problem. We all have to guard our thoughts first and then our tongues. If our hearts aren't clean (with modesty of heart and humility in what we think about) our words can never be free of this terrible curse.
I pray all is well with Morgan and Michelle. Please give your family our greetings in the Lord! Thank you for your clear words of truth.

Josiah David said...

Whoa. Great post there, Shelby! I think you made an excellent and very insightful point about the common thread in gossip is pride. How often we are guilty of this sin! May God change our hearts so we may better serve Him, and build up His church! Not pull her down with our own hands, er, tongues.

Shelby Courtney said...

Thank you, Mrs. Franks! You are very right about women and their struggle with gossip!
Michelle and Morgan are doing well right now! We so appreciate your prayers! I hope you all are well also!

Thanks, Josiah! It is amazing how much damage we can do with our tongues. It's funny how there really isn't a human being alive who doesn't struggle with taming their tongue.

Jacqueline @ said...

I miss your precious posts, Shelby! We ARE praying and I know the Lord is near to you in this difficult time. You are all loved. Please give your dear Mum and sisters a warm hug and blessing from me.

Christy Rayner said...

great post shelby! Its great to hear a young woman speak the truth so boldly. Philippians tells us how to stand out from our generation like stars- the answer is suprising...don't grumble and complain! another way our tongue lets us down. its in those little things that we submit to the Holy Spirit that our lives will shine out as different not in the 'big' things as we see them.
great post.

Stephanie said...

Thank you for this post ! The verses really inspired me, I am going to use them for a post of the same topic ! May the Lord be glorified for His work in You.