Guilty of Gossip

28 May

So & so did such & such & I felt/think _____ about it.

I think there is a very good chance that everyone is guilty of gossip at some point in their life. Male, female, young, old, every race and culture are all familiar with this deadly little sin that is so horrific & sneaky that most people don’t even realize they are gossiping or being gossiped to when it happens.

There are two times in my life when I’m most tempted to gossip.

1.) When I’m hurt by someone.

It is really hard to resist the urge to share in grave detail the situation when I feel hurt, disappointed, wrongly judged or mistreated. Something happens in me that demands for my side to be heard. I desire some justification to the situation. I want someone to agree with me that how I feel is validated and only natural. I want someone to tell me “I have rights” and I don’t have to put up with it. Or at the very least, feel sorry for me for how bad I have it or the sad situation I have to put up with.  I just want to say everything I think and feel to someone who will understand and not try to tell me that I *can’t* feel that way.

2.) When I know that myself and someone else have a mutual dislike or opinion about someone else.

When I experience or hear something about someone I don’t really care for, have a bad relationship with, has hurt someone else I care about, I think makes bad choices and I know someone else agrees with me – it’s so easy to share.  It rolls easily off the tongue and sadly, often leaves me feeling pleasure of some sort. (That feeling never lasts – like all sins of the flesh, it’s only good for a short time and then you’re left in a worse state than before.)

For those of us not living consciously about gossip, we may not even mean to “gossip” when we do. But that doesn’t make it any less wrong.

When we are gossiping, we tell intimate details about others.

Think about this. When your spouse wrongs you and you share it with a friend, do you leave out even a single detail? Usually not. That friend probably knows every single sentence that was spoken and all of your emotions and feelings of being completely devastated by the situation.

When reconciliation happens with your spouse. How often do you share every single detail? What usually happens is we say “Oh, he said this and I said this and we worked it all out. We’re good.”

Now let’s think about what happened for the friend who heard the gossip.

1.) They rarely hear all the incredible details of every day life, but they have now heard intimate and private mistakes and failures about someone and how intensely it hurt someone else that they care about.

2.) They get a quick spun version of the reconciliation, which was probably full of some admission of fault on your part and how much you might have hurt your spouse too (because fighting is NEVER one-sided) and the situation can appear to be that you just “gave in and put up with that jerk.”

3.) Their perception of your spouse is based mostly on failures.

This happens as much as, if not MORE often with friendships. When we talk about people we don’t like to other people, we rarely give a glimpse of any good qualities they may possess. We make them look despicable, evil, malicious, violent, untrustworthy, dishonest, unfaithful, and cruel.

We are allowing our feelings about their mistakes to define them. God help us all if anyone only has a vision of who we are based solely on how someone else feels about our mistakes.

It doesn’t matter what they’ve done or how they’ve hurt me, how I feel about their sin IS NOT a true picture of them, nor is it how God defines them.

Ponder this for a minute. Think about two people who don’t get along with each other.  Now imagine how each of them might make the other sound to you.

It leads me to ask, which one is painting a true picture of the other?

The person you hear from first? The person you are friends with? (Because you know your friend, there is NO WAY they could possibly be leading you on by their raw emotions, all they speak is facts in the midst of their hurt and they never ever hurt other people.) The person who sounds most convincing?

There is no way any person is truly describing the situation in the most honest form when they are:

1.) Placing all the blame on someone else.

2.) Trying to negatively alter your perception of someone.

3.) Exposing someones mistakes as the definition of who they *are* as a human, not just something they have done.

4.) Seem to be gaining satisfaction in getting dirt off their chest or fuel to empower themselves.

5.) Sharing rumors or facts about someone other than themselves that are not edifying to the person they are talking about.

I would love to say that this only happens among unbelievers. But that would be a bold face LIE! Believers can be trapped in this battle as quickly as if not more quickly than unbelievers. Somehow, Satan has convinced us to be crafty in naming it something else. And we have bought into the notion that as long as we do that, it is no longer gossip or sin.

We’ve disguised gossip as:

~ A prayer request.

~ Venting.

~ Seeking advice from a friend.

~ Just giving someone a heads up of the situation.

I do believe seeking advice or counsel from someone when you just feel overwhelmed or defeated by a certain person or situation is definitely a wise thing to do.

But this takes a lot of prayer and discretion. Some things to keep in mind.

1.) One person is enough. (Unless they tell you they feel like they cannot help you in this situation and would like to bring in someone who has more expertise {like dealing with an abusive spouse or something like that}) If you need to tell more than one person, you need to check to make sure your motives REALLY ARE to seek help and counsel, or something from the earlier mentioned list.

2.) Choose someone who DOES NOT KNOW the person you are having an issue with. (You don’t want to alter someone elses perception of someone or give them a reason to find fault or offense.) Don’t go to someone in your church about someone else in your church. Don’t go to a family member about another family member. This is especially true of your spouse. If you share your deepest hurts with your mom, chances are she is going to have a harder time not judging and also forgiving even long after you’re over the problem.

3.) Choose someone who will help you see YOUR sin in the situation. Many fights between spouses escalate or in some way involve the husband feeling disrespected or the wife feeling unloved. When telling the story, you want someone who will not be bias, and will help you see where you can correct your behavior as well as help you let go of your own hurt and show grace. All too often we want to choose someone who will throw their hands in the air and say “You shouldn’t put up with that. I can’t believe he/she treated you that way. You deserve better. I can’t believe what a jerk they are.” This is NOT Godly council.

Practical Application:

~ Confess any instances where I have been or currently am caught up in gossip.

~ Pray over and make a list of anyone I may have wrongly judged based solely on the testimony of someone who didn’t like them or was hurt by them.

~ When tempted to talk about someone, take time to make sure I have the right reasons in mind and I really consider who would be a wise choice for the situation at hand.

~ When listening to my friends, be aware of the “why” behind what they are sharing, and stop the conversation if it is not to seek true Godly help, including seeing their own mistakes and sins.

~ Be the kind of friend who GIVES Godly council instead of fuels the hurt fire.

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6 Responses to “Guilty of Gossip”

  1. songsofintimacy May 28, 2013 at 11:52 pm #

    Good job on takin up this subject!

  2. songsofintimacy May 28, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    My pastor once said if someone gossiping to you about someone just say shut up. Lol. Believe me they’ll always from that point on rule you out when they are trying to find someone to gossip with. 😉

    • Kayla Gulick May 29, 2013 at 6:51 am #

      I agree! Once we gossip with someone once, it’s so easy to quickly become gossiping partners.

      In fact, many people aren’t even friends at all. They just mutually dislike something and find themselves talking about “it” often and easily.

  3. learning1 July 10, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

    I’m not sure if it is gossip if you are trying to work through things and need advice. Matthew 18 comes to mind and that does say that if you can’t work through it, you do need to bring more (and they would be from the church – and sometimes family is in the church too). It hopefully could be resolved right from the start by working things out with the person, but certainly spreading back-biting gossip doesn’t help the situation. Going to others else with the problem that isn’t resolved, now helps get another perspective into the matter as in counsel. It can also help to point out where your sin is. If the problem continues even with others stepping in to try to work through it with the two of you, now the congregation could potentially call for action in the situation. I find it hard to consider all difficult conversations about another party, gossip. To me the delineation is “getting revenge” with evil words about them and their doings, not just simply talking about some difficult or ugly stuff that has gone on with another person. We do not take vengeance – only God. We sometimes do need counsel for difficult situations.

    • Kayla Gulick July 11, 2013 at 7:21 am #

      I agree! We do need counsel sometimes and just needing to talk about it doesn’t make it vengeful! Great scriptures and reminders of how God calls us to handle trouble in the church!!

      Thank you so much for reading along and for sharing your insights!!

      • learning1 July 11, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

        Thanks Kayla. I share this because I have trouble asking for help. Especially when I need to talk about a rough/ugly situation with another person. For years upon years, I would trap myself into not seeking help because I genuinely believed if you had to talk about ugly things it was gossip. Now I realize there is a difference in seeking advice/arbitration, and gossiping.

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