This is part two. Read part one Here.
Did you know that this dirt not only damages the person it is about? It also damages the person hearing the gossip because it often causes them to judge the other person unfairly. There is now some dirt on the hearer, who often will also pick up a shovel and start flinging the dirt… Everyone gets hurt, and no one escapes. How often do we hear some juicy gossip and believe it, even though it is unverified? Recently, a rumor spread about someone I know. He had no idea it was even out there, until a brother in Christ went to him and asked him about it. Since the rumor was untrue, he laughed about it and thanked his brother for going to him and not spreading it. His brother did not pick up a shovel, he went with a med kit ready to stop a potential bleed. The next time you hear a rumor, go to the person being rumored about. And never spread something about another person whether it is true or not.
Our words should be carefully chosen, and designed to build up, not to destroy:
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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. ~ Ephesians 4:29-31
But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. ~ Colossians
As Paul says in Titus 3:2 we must “slander no one”, and be always be ready to speak a good word about our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Now, we all know at least one person in the Church who makes it their business to know everything about everyone; they are the ones who have a well worn shovel and calloused hands. What are we to do about these people? So often we just laugh it off, “That is just the way she is,” we say and we leave it at that. We don’t want to step on toes or intrude in other peoples business…
She is destroying with that shovel.
This is not just some idle chatter, this is deadly serious. In fact, her soul is at stake. In fact, she is a sinner who has an arterial bleed that needs to be plugged. She needs surgery. But she cannot see it for all the dirt she is flinging, with her eyes focused others rather than on her own perilous condition or better yet…on Jesus Christ. It is our duty, as our Lord told us in Matthew 18, to admonish her, not only for the sake of her victim, but for her own sake, and your sake and the churches sake!
The Bible clearly teaches that a Christian cannot live in sin. The Christian can fall into sin, but he will not stay there, nor can sin be a life pattern. So if her life pattern is one of using a shovel, if she has calloused hands from flinging the dirt of hatred, slander, venom, gossip, and rumor onto other believers. We have every reason to be concerned for that person’s salvation. But never talk about her! Let me be clear on that! Don’t gossip about a gossiper, the same tactic must taken with her, as her victim. We are to go beside her, and help plug that bleed. We should do everything we can to correct it, for her sake, and the sake of all those around her. If we just ignore her gossip, we are only helping to spread the dirt, whether we grab a shovel or not. Because…
She will continue to fling the dirt.
She will continue to bleed.
And she will die, as she tears down those around her.
What a sad state to be in.
If the love of God is in our hearts and the power that raised Christ from the dead is living in us, His love is going to shine through us and we will display that fruit.
In 1 John 5 we read that, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.” If I love God I will love Jesus Christ, and I will love His children – other believers.
I won’t bury them alive with gossip and slander.
If I am a child of God, I am going to see other believers as my own brothers and sisters. It doesn’t mean we don’t discipline when sin is present. What it does mean is we don’t lie, gossip, backbite, slander and we don’t maliciously defame character. If I do these things, if shoveling dirt on others the pattern of my life, if I am known around the barracks as a “shoveler,” then I would do well to pause and consider my actions, my motives and my heart. Why? Because the one who loves God love the ones God loves.
If we see fellow believers as God’s beloved covenant children, If we see them as the people for whom the Savior bore the unbridled wrath of God and died, if we see them as those who are the eternal beloved and cherished bride of Jesus Christ, if we see them as our brothers and sisters, as fellow Christians to be protected and forgiven and nurtured and cared for, that is going to control how we talk about them.
We control slander not simply by keeping the shovel in the shed (keeping our mouths shut), we control slander by keeping our thoughts and focus on the right thing. Remember that God in mercy looked upon you with favour and we do well to have the same grace for others. We do well to ask ourselves, “What do I think about others?” “Do I see them as the covenant children of God?” If I do, if I love God and my brother, I will never say anything about him that is not true, that tears down, that kills and destroys. I will not maliciously lie, slander, gossip and fling dirt.
In James the question is asked “who can tame the tongue?” That is not a rhetorical question, because the answer is very clear… Jesus can. There is grace for the shoveler if he repents. There is great hope for all of us through the blood of Jesus.
May our speech to others and about others be “only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29
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