"I can't believe she did that!" How many times have we heard that line or one like it? What follows is a detailed account of whatever the woman did and what the speaker thinks of that and how they would have done things differently. What is not being considered is that there is a reason why people do things. It's what they know, what they've been taught, where they've been, what they've seen, how they've been hurt. Maybe that poor woman had a terrible day. Maybe she just found out her family member died and so she yelled at her kid when they were causing a ruckus. Maybe she yells all the time. Maybe.....You know what? It doesn't matter. Maybe we shouldn't be talking about it at all. It is fun to talk about other people and their problems and their faults. It makes for interesting conversation and makes us look better, wiser. Right? What if that woman was you? How would you feel if you heard people talking about you in a negative way? Words cut to the soul. They are lasting and create wounds that are very difficult to heal.
Growing up, gossip was a big part of my life. I would spend hours on the phone or with friends, talking about other people. It was considered normal. I mean, all the adults I knew did it. I heard them all the time. Besides, it was fun and why should I stop anyway? This bad habit carried into adulthood. I don't remember when I realized how God felt about this habit of mine, but I do remember making a clear decision to stop gossiping for good. Oh it's hard! But being a gossiper is only half the battle! Then there's being the gossipee. (I don't think there is such a word, but you get my drift) Often I'll walk into a room and hear the tail end of some conversation about someone and I am sooo curious what it's about. "Oh who are you guys talking about? They did what?" I am learning to keep my mouth shut and not ask. It's hard.
Another scenario is another person trying to haul you into a gossip filled conversation, and though I don't want to participate, it's awkward to back out without hurting any feelings. Usually I will opt to say as many nice things about the person being talked about, or say something like, "Oh, that sounds like a tough situation. That's too bad." and then try to change the subject. Trying to be vague and not saying anything to fuel the conversation doesn't always work though. Sometimes I have to be blunt or find some excuse to leave the conversation. I have a friend who when faced with a gossiping situation will say, "Oh let's pray for that person! I'll pray right now!" lol that usually puts things to an abrupt end. That may not always be practical, though, say in the workplace or among people who aren't Christians. Another person I know will suggest bringing the person being talked about into the conversation. That, too, ends the gossip. I think that we can make a difference just by how we talk about people, or don't talk about people. My rule of thumb is, if I wouldn't say it with them standing there, then I don't say it. And if it is critical, then it should be for the person-in-question's ears only.
We can come up with so many good excuses to gossip, though! One of the classics is - "I just need to vent! I really need to get this off my chest!" Another good one is - "Oh I have to tell you all about so-and-so so that you can pray for her/him." Then we proceed to tell every juicy detail of the situation when a simple "Could you please pray for so-and-so, they are dealing with a tough situation right now" would do. Do you ever notice how it's fairly simple to figure out who is "safe" to confide in? I have a couple of friends who just love to talk about everybody. They are good friends, but I have never, and will never confide in them, nor will I really ever fully open up to these people. Why? Because I don't want everyone else they know to know all of the intimate details of my life. So while they remain good friends, we will never be able to be great friends. Wanna know who they are? Just kidding. I wouldn't do that! lol
As believers, we are called to live a life that is pleasing and honoring to God. Gossip just doesn't fit in this picture. I am no saint, by any means, nor do I have this area of my life conquered. But I am sure doing my best and I claim that promise: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 Here are a few more motivating verses:
1 Peter 3:10
For "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;"
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
That is just the tip of the iceberg of what God has to say about our speech. Let's shock the world and not join in on the "fun". I don't know about you, but I'm in.