Coffee Talk 2015: Week 2 {Gossip & Slander}

Damsels in Distress, Chapter 2
Biblical Solutions for Problems with Others
Well, Isn’t It OK If My Mother Told Me?
Gossip and Slander

coffee talk online edition pictureSue was excited about attending the annual Woman’s Spring Luncheon at church.  As she settled down with her food at the table with girlfriends, she noticed that Sally, a sweet elderly lady, was seated across from her and chatting away as usual.  In the midst of all the various conversations, Sally’s tone changed into ‘dumping mode’ as usual. Systematically shredding her downstairs neighbor’s character, Sally continued to criticize her housekeeping to child rearing skills, or lack of them. “Sally”, I said, “could you please stop for a second? We don’t know this woman, but you do, and God has placed her in your life. We are not part of the problem, therefore, not a part of the solution. We all do not need to hear this.  Have you tried to befriend her, invite her over, or shared the gospel with her?” Great. Dead silence.  Then she started up again, stating that this was for prayer.  “No, that is not a prayer, Sally. If you care for her, reach out, pray, and trust God.”  Women were actually relieved to move on.  And we did. We all tolerated this for many years.

What Sally was sharing was probably true.  A biblical response in Sally’s mind could have been, “all this chaotic stuff about my neighbor is true, but that doesn’t give me the right to give a bad report about her, especially disguised as prayer! I’d better be careful about what I share here. Maybe asking them to pray for me to share the gospel and befriend my new neighbor would be more God honoring.”  (Phil. 4:8)

Have you ever been a Sally, or a Sue, or in a group where this has happened? I sure have.  One time many years ago, I was so angry at a family member for hurting me that I dumped private information onto six or so persons and then had to call each and every one back to ask for forgiveness!  Then I had to humble myself and ask the ‘person’ who hurt me, to forgive me! My anger and emotions overrode my love and obedience to Christ.  My biblical response should have been, “even though that relative was unrepentant, I am going to show love to them by not continuing to ‘take into account a wrong suffered’ and not replaying the sordid details over and over in my mind and out loud. (1 Cor 13:5) (page 42).

So how do I lovingly shut a person down or even myself when obviously going down the road to slander?  You could use the example given above and recognize that sinful thoughts begin in our hearts. “The Bible does not command us to change our feelings; it commands us to renew our minds (Rom.12:2). We do this by simply studying, meditating on, and memorizing the Bible, as well as by hearing it preached. Then when we realize that our thoughts and (gossiping and slanderous) speech are wrong, we are responsible to change our thoughts and speech. This is what Paul calls “lay(ing) aside the old self…” and “put(ting) on the new self” (see Eph 4:22-24). We don’t have to live by our habits.  It says in James 4:6 that ‘He gives a greater grace…’.(page 43)

Martha states that the Greek word for gossip is diabolis. We get our English word devil from it; It means to accuse or give false information.  Slander is blasphema, and connotes evil speaking or vilification (to malign or disparage).   Our speech is the fruit of our heart.  It reveals our thoughts, intents, wants and beliefs (Mark 7:20-23).  Do I speak truth in my heart and take care not to slander, secretly before the face of God or openly before men? (Psalm 15). Let the words of Phil 4:8 and 1 Cor 10:31 be your grid for truth in your heart as you put off and then put on God honoring speech for His glory.

Have you, like me, been guilty of gossip and slander? If so, repent, and thank God for His forgiveness. Go back and humbly make it right. Are you willing to go back to the person(s) you offended and ask for forgiveness in what you had no right to share?   Have you been a victim of gossip? Try to gain their good will, if possible, by approaching them kindly and graciously with the truth (Rom 12:18, 1 Cor 4:13). Did you rather tell your mother or girlfriends or rant on Facebook that you were offended? What should be your biblical response?  So what will you do in your mind renewal process to put off evil speech?  You can change you know.  Work hard at putting off sin and putting on Christ.  The focus has to be Him.

Comments

  1. christie b says:

    Thank you Gaila, for good insight. I appreciate the example of what was considered gossip in the story here. What seems honest, concerning, and wise doesn’t always need to be said out loud to others. I appreciate the, “if your not part of the problem or the solution….” It’s a good one liner to remember in a tough spot.
    Thanks again, for taking time to share your thoughts.

  2. Linda C. says:

    Ditto what Christie B. said. It is so easy to fall into the sin of gossip without even realizing we are doing it. We have to be on guard constantly, working to be aware of what we are saying and, more importantly, what we are storing in our hearts. There is much wisdom in your article, Gaila, about how to prepare and protect our hearts and yet, when we do fail, how to correct the problem and press on. I try to remember to think before I speak, “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” and that usually covers when to speak and when to be silent.

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