Well, I heard....

I really try not to blog when I am upset.  I do my best to remain  upbeat or at least objective.  But I keep seeing this sin hurt so many people and this time it's too close to home to remain quiet.

Yeah, I'm ticked off .  And I am going to process it by blogging til I feel better.

So if you are easily offended or don't like to wade through emotions, you'll be better off skipping Living Letters today.  And I'll understand.  Just catch me next time and I promise I'll try and return to emotional equilibrium.

What's the big deal?  What's gotten my dander up?  (Or as my family would say - what's caused another voodoo doll to get scores of painful pin pricks :)  )



Maybe there's a difference, maybe it's semantics but whatever it is, I just know that someone I treasure was lied about and the rumor feathers hit the wind.

You know how that winds up.

I found a website that offers a Biblical definition of gossip (don't know if this author majored in New Testament Greek or if he had divine revelation - but the definition looks pretty accurate to me and it's helpful - so we're going with it)

Gossip - to spread rumors or secrets; to speak maliciously about someone behind their back or to repeat something you have no right to repeat.

Wow.  This is a wide definition.  It could even include occasions where true tales are shared but just with wrong motives.  Wow.

What has me all worked up, though, is the spreading of a lie.  An outright, unfounded, careless, malicious lie.

And make no mistake about it - words have power.  The power of life and death are in the tongue.  Doesn't matter if they are true or not.

This time the words were lies.  And great damage was done.

God makes it very clear how He feels about gossip.  Just check out these few verses (I could've shared about 30 more but these will give you the idea of His take on the subject!)

Proverbs 6:16,19 - There are six things the Lord hates.......false witness who breathes out lies"

Proverbs 16:28 - A perverse man spreads strife

Proverbs 10:18 - Whoever utters slander is a fool

Psalm 34:13 -   Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit

Exodus 23:1 - You shall not bear a false report; do not join your hand with a wicked man to be a malicious witness

Then take a listen to this one - not only does God condemn spreading gossip, He says we should not even listen to it!
Proverbs 17:4 - An evil doer listens to wicked lips and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue .

We all know not to do it.  I'm sure I've been guilty of the same.  But this evil should not be named among God's people. At all.

Yet we see churches divided by it, friendships shattered by it, careers ruined by it, and hearts shredded by the chaos that ensues.  All because Christians gossip.

Why do we do it?  When we know it's wrong, when we know the damage it does?
Because we believe a lie.  The lie that tricks us into thinking we will derive benefit in some way.  The lie that preys upon our insecurity, our fragile egos, our determination to get our way.  The lie that says we will fare better if we can diminish someone else.

Looks pretty pathetic when it's put that way, doesn't it? 

And it is.  A lot pathetic.
And evil and destructive and wrong.

But, deafened by the screams of our own ego, we do it anyway, hoping to prop up our own significance somehow.
And then, eventually, we find, like all lies, gossip never delivers what we thought it promised.

Our increased significance was fleeting.  The way we thought we had to have proved faulty.  And, if we are Christ-followers, there's a sick feeling in our stomachs (at least I hope there is - if not, we are in serious trouble!) Not to mention the fractured relationships we caused all around.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. (Proverbs 18:21)  Or as my Mama says - "what goes around, comes around".  If our tongues sow life, we will reap it.  And if our tongues spread gossip, we will reap death.  Oh, maybe not immediately, but you can mark it down - we all have to eat our words eventually.

Best we can hope for is that the words we speak taste good!

What to do?

1.  Do not participate.  When gossip is shared, change the subject. Ask if the info being shared is first, true, and second, helpful.  Proverbs 26:20 says For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
2.  Do not initiate.  Just don't.  Nuf said.
3.  When victimized by gossip (here's where I am focused right now....) - two things are needed:
      First, forgiveness and second, go to the talebearer alone.  (Matthew 18:15-20)  There are clear instructions about how to do this (speak the truth in love, go in humility, get the log out of your own eye first, etc) but going directly to the gossiper is necessary.  Full disclosure - I contemplated serious pin pricks to a voodoo doll.  Or "telling off" the perpetrator - just to comply with Galatians 6:1, of course.  At the very least, praying that God would divinely email this post to their email - sadly they don't even know this blog exists - can you even imagine????

I am feeling a little better now.  Still angry that folks who publicly proclaim their faith can so easily do such wretched damage.  But directing my energy to forgiveness.  Since these are my brothers and sisters in Christ, their sin has already been paid for at the Cross.  Jesus doesn't hold it against them and so I cannot either.  I will help my dear friend move toward acceptance that all God's plans are good - even when they come disguised in wretched wrapping paper. God alone will take what others meant for evil and transform it for good. For those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The Divine Alchemist.
 We will bow in humility, knowing that Christ is our example,   6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  (Philippians 2:6-8)

He trusted God's plan completely and that freed Him up to serve and suffer.  Wow.

He had no thought of retribution. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly (I Peter 2:23)

Not a tongue lashing to his enemies nor the spreading of news about their evil.
Not even one single prick to a voodoo doll. 

I am ok now.  It helped me to process with you.  Thanks.  I highly recommend this blogging thing - frugal therapy!
I'll write cheerily next time.

Here's hoping that our words taste good when they come back to us.

And if a couple of certain people are finding themselves tasting sawdust today, well, they can just be glad it's that and not stabs from a pin....Just sayin......