I would confidently say that I am not a gossiper, however in a conversation with a friend recently, I’m not so sure anymore.
What is gossiping anyway?
I guess I really didn’t know what gossiping really was. My assumption was that gossiping about someone was talking bad about someone to somebody else. Example: “This girl, so and so, is so fat! She really needs to go on a diet”, proceeded by laughter. Yes, of course, that is a form of gossiping, an obvious form. But the not so obvious form is where I was most confused.
So where do we go when we’re not so sure about a matter? We go to the Word! Scripture, the word of the Lord, is our lifeline. We need it throughout our sanctification process. And since we will be sanctifying until we go home to be with the Lord, we will need it always!
Gossip- psithuristes (Greek): a whisperer: a sneaky gossip(a “back-stabber”) a back-biter, quietly(secretly) destroying another person’s character, covertly, not out in the open, but rather operating “in a corner.”
So, I never want to be known as a gossip, yet after looking at this definition, I realize that I may gossip more often than I thought. What helped me see that was the phrase “destroying another person’s character. That got me big time!
So, let’s say I am talking to a sister in Christ and I mention how Susie is a horrible housekeeper. I explain to this sister my qualms, about how I feel so uncomfortable in Susie’s house because its so dirty. In my mind, this is my situation, so I am free to speak about it freely, however the sister has never met Susie or has maybe run into her at church only once or twice. My first mistake, I think, was using Susie's name. There is normally no need to reveal the persons name. This way, you keep the person free of judgement from anyone who does or doesn't know them personally. Now, because of me, the sister in Christ, starts feeling some kind of way about Susie and her dirty house. She’s thankful that she never has to go to Susie’s house, because she despises dirty houses. The sister sees Susie at church and mentally associates her with filth. I have indeed destroyed the character of Susie to the sister; therefore, I was gossiping.
Although these are my feelings, and I feel like it’s my situation(which is how I ALWAYS feel), if I haven’t addressed it with Susie, or even if I have discussed it with Susie, I am gossiping and according to Romans 1:28, that is not a place that I would like to be.
When we take a second to think of all the venting about people we do, I’m sure we can find that most of time we are destroying the character of another. If what we are saying cannot be said to the person that we are speaking about, in the tone that we are speaking it in, then it probably shouldn’t be said. The hard thing for me in Romans 1:28 is that these people will not have their place in heaven. He (the Lord) will give them over to their passions. I really don’t want to be given over to sin by the Lord. That means our lives are over. Burning in hell for ALL eternity.
Who CAN I talk to?
I believe that God created women to naturally NEED to talk 😄. Which is why I also believe that there are sisters in our lives that we can air out to. Let’s take the same Susie scenario. Although this time the sister acknowledges how I feel about the situation, she also gives me advice on how to deal with the situation, with love and gentleness. These are the type of sisters we are able to talk to. The one who really takes the time to direct you back to doing what is right in addressing our issues with whoever we have the issues with. The one who prays with you for the Lord to open the doors for a way of communication to take place, and for peace to be the outcome. BTW, this should not be every sister you come across. If you spill ‘your heart’ to every sister you come across, you just may be the issue. You just might be the gossip! So, it’s important to understand that every sister doesn’t fit this role of the trusted confidant. Only very few sisters lands or should land this position in our lives. Yet, If the sister you tell says things like, “wow, that’s sad", "I feel bad for her family, she's awful", "I can't believe their family, what a waste", that may not be the sister you should be unloading on, because to that person you may have destroyed 'Susie’s' character.
So difficult to discern
I think that this is so hard to regulate. Namely, because "its no big deal talking to my adult daughter about the silly mistake my adult son made." And "surely there is nothing wrong about the inappropriate comment my brother made to me about our sister, because he was mad at her. I mean, we’re family, right?" I would argue that the same rules should apply here. If I talk to my brother about Uncle Bob, and how he just can’t get it right, and we go on and on about how he is a mess up, that is GOSSIP! So what that its family. I need to go to Uncle Bob, or talk to my trusted confidant that I know is going to give me sound advice on how to talk to Uncle Bob, or pray for Uncle Bob.
If we constantly keep at the forefront of our minds, “will what I share destroy the persons character to the person I am speaking with?” I think it will make discerning whether we're gossiping or not quite simple!
Be Faithful, Be Free