“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29
When I was a young Airman, I had a supervisor tell me that I was the type of person who thrived on chaos and created drama. That statement hurt me to my core and allowed me to have some self-reflection time about the type of woman I wanted to be known as. And guess what? I decided I didn’t want to be known as someone who was involved with chaos, drama, turmoil…and gossip.
Gossip is such an uncomfortable topic. It’s uncomfortable because so many of us fall into the gossip trap at some point in our lives. There are varying levels of gossip…the seemingly innocent gossip…the outrageous made-up gossip…and even the justifiable gossip cloaked in truth. There are different players in the game of gossip. There is the initiator, the contributor, the facilitator, and even the victim. I know that I have been involved in each of the roles and if I’m honest, in each of the levels of gossip too.
Erin and I were recently talking about the fabric of our friendship and how we’ve never had a fight. We’ve never gossiped about each other. We hold each other accountable. We disagree with one another. Heck we have even disliked decisions that the other made, but we have never fought. Why? I believe there are several reasons. Our friendship is built on trust. It’s built on respect. It’s built on love. And it’s a friendship that is built on Christ.
What would happen to us, as Christian women, if all our relationships were built on trust, respect, love and Christ? What if we treated all of our relationships as ones without chaos, without drama, without gossip?
Would we be happier people? Would we accomplish more? Would we reflect Christ’s love for all of His people?
Obviously, you can’t know if all your relationships are built on mutual trust, mutual respect, mutual love, or mutual relationship with God. But you can know if you will exhibit these traits.
Let’s go back to gossip. Women typically love to talk. And we love to talk about each other. We are a catty group of humans. It does not matter what label you put on yourself, women are at fault for talking about each other. Christian women too. Ours however, may be more dangerous gossip than that of the non-believer. Why? Well, we mask our gossip as “venting” or worse as “seeking council” from other Christian women.
Please know this, I believe we need to seek wise council. Occasionally, we need to vent. If we keep our thoughts, dreams, and prayers to ourselves then we are unable to be held accountable by other Christians. The distinction between wise council seeking and gossip is when you make the decision about whether or not the conversation will make its way back to the subject.
Let’s imagine you take a topic to someone you trust and respect…simply to vent or to get guidance.
If you talk about someone and never intend to bring it to him or her, then it could be gossip.
If you talk about someone and intend to bring it to him or her after seeking council, then it may not be gossip…it may truly be seeking guidance.
“Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.” – Psalm 101:5
Let’s flip the script now. Let’s imagine that someone is coming to you for a venting session or because they are seeking your guidance.
If you aren’t sending them to speak with the individual to resolve the situation, then your guidance is not holy…it is likely part of the gossip.
If you join in the venting session because you’ve been hurt by the individual, then you are contributing to the gossip.
If you ask them what their role is in the scenario, or if you ask them what they intend to say to the individual, or if you encourage them to speak to the person…then you are stopping the gossip. You are providing guidance.
“He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.” – Proverbs 11:13
There’s a fine line between gossip and guidance. It’s a hard line to see, but it’s an easy one to cross. Our flesh wants the confirmation that we have been wronged. We crave the vindication that we are right and that we are justified in the gossiping. As humans, we desire someone else to come beside us and share our outrage at injustices…perceived or real.
But what would happen if we stopped the gossip?
What would happen if we started building our relationships on trust, respect, love and Christ?
If we stopped gossiping and replaced that with truth talk directly to the people involved, wouldn’t we start building trust, respect, love…and show how Christ would have functioned?
There are relationships that are toxic. Ones that eventually need to be severed. But for the average relationship, trust and respect are started with honesty. Honesty can be sometimes harsh or sometimes softer, but should never be expressed in a deliberately hurtful manner. Honest talk builds healthy relationships.
“He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, Therefore do not associate with a gossip.” – Proverbs 20:19
Let’s band together as Christian women to refine one another. Together we can start to stop the gossip within our homes, our churches, and our workplaces. Let’s identify the flaws and press into the Lord with our desire to do better.
“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.” – Psalm 141:3