Tuesday, December 3, 2013

On Truth, Trust, and Temptation

We have all been there.  We are pros at rationalizing that it's NOT what we are doing.  We simply tell ourselves, "I'm talking through it so I can understand it," or "I would totally say this to this person's face, so this is not gossip..."  However, in reality, we know gossip, and we know WHEN we gossip.  The fact of the matter is, gossip eats away at the reputation of the gossiper just as quickly as it eats away at the reputation of the person being gossiped about.
I have found myself unable to trust people after I know that they have been saying things about someone else.  The reason I lose trust is I start to think, "Well, what is that person saying about ME when I'M not in the room?"  So, naturally, that person becomes less trustworthy and it starts to eat away at my relationship with them.  This is ESPECIALLY true when I see the gossiper turn around and be totally sweet to the person about whom they were gossiping.  Ouch!~that hurts ME to see how two-faced that can be.
Now, this topic and my feelings on it would lead one to say, "So, Tammie, you never gossip?"  WRONG.  I have totally been the gossiper as well.  It's a common sin, and commonly I have struggled with it, as most people do.  But I have recently seen my friendships falling apart when gossiping becomes the basis, and I find it hard to steer the conversation away from it.  That tells me that my friendship might not be on a solid foundation. 
Paul wrote to the church at Corinth about gossiping and slander:
2 Corinthians 12:20 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.
Don't those issues usually go hand in hand?  Jealousy and gossip; we try to get others to look poorly upon someone of whom we might be jealous.  Disorder and gossip; when things might be chaotic and messy, we look to place blame on others by gossiping.  Anger and gossip;  we feel slighted and we just have to go tell others so they will be on "our side." 
Quite frankly, Paul had reason to be afraid of that!  What else can so quickly shake up a church than some nasty gossip? 
So, how do we keep this all in check?  It feels to me, a girl of many insecurities, to be quite a trial to avoid gossip!  We do it so naturally, and we fall into those conversations so naturally and they spiral out of control.
I had a friend one time who inquired about a third party and how things were going in a situation that I and the other person were in.  I didn't think anything of it; I responded with how I thought things were going and that was the end of our conversation.  However, my friend followed up with me and apologized and said, "I realize that I was gossiping, and I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that."  I was floored.  That was the most unexpected message for me to get because I hadn't considered it gossip.  BUT IT WAS!  I'm so glad my friend held herself and myself accountable by apologizing to me and helping ME to see how naturally I accepted the urge to "gossip."  Gossip doesn't have to be saying something "wrong" about a person...it can also be telling information about that person without them there to make sure the information is accurate. 
I think the best way for ME to avoid gossip is by daily meditating on the verses in the Bible about gossip, and how God sees it.  Then, the help of our friends holding us accountable to NOT gossip will help eradicate the commonness of it.  Wouldn't it be great if we lived in a world where gossip was UNUSUAL and felt out of place rather than "common?" 
Here are some more verses to consider:
Some ways that we might "mask"
(unsuccessfully) our gossip:
Jeremiah 6:28 They are all stubbornly rebellious, going about with slanders; they are bronze and iron;  all of them act corruptly.
Proverbs 11:13 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.
Proverbs 26:20-22 For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.  As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.
Romans 1:28-32 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
That last example from Romans gets me every time.  Not only should I not participate, but I shouldn't give approval to the practice of it.  (That means I need to speak up when I see it happening too!) 
I'll make a list of things I might say to get the gossipers to stop gossiping (at least while I'm around):
  • I don't feel comfortable talking about this when ____person's name_____ isn't here.
  • I'm trying to avoid things that might be considered gossip, so I'd rather not talk about that, or even hear it.
  • I'd hate to say anything about this situation because I know how bad I'd feel if others were talking about me when I wasn't there.
Again, I am certainly not guilt free in this area; but who better to hear about a sinful-struggle, and attempts to free myself from that struggle than me, the sinner?  Let's all go boldly forward and try to end the temptation to gossip~if it's a habit, then we need to make the commitment on a daily basis, and go to bed at night having really looked into ourselves and honestly determine whether we made it through the day without gossiping or lending ear to gossip. 
Today is Day 1. 

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