After reading my Daily Bread devotion, I felt inspired to write a post about gossip. It is for certain we have all gossiped at one time or another, and what I mean by gossip is saying words that are damaging about another person who is not present. The story could be true or not. At least, that is what I mean when I refer to the word "gossip" in this post.
Proverbs 16:28 talks about how gossiping can separate friends. It is not just that it hurts a friend when they find out what bad things have been said about them, but when a friend tells me bad things about another person - I begin to wonder, "What do they say about me to other people." A gossiping friend is a friend I cannot trust (Proverbs 11:13, Proverbs 20:19), and so it puts a strain on the relationship. There is awkwardness when we get together.
The Bible warns me not to believe them when they speak kindly to my face because their heart is full sin(Proverbs 26:25). I think perhaps gossiping and flattery may be mirror traits. Flattery may be a person's way of encouraging others, but I cannot see a persons heart. Could it be deceitful? Somehow a compliment without heart makes me feel worse, not better. Perhaps I just assume it is flattery because they also gossip to me. When trust is broken, you cannot accept that person at their word. This is a result of sin, and is no way a judgment, nor is it to be repressed. No one needs to be a doormat.
It is always ideal to think the best of others (so if you know me, do not think I am talking about a specific person as a way of venting). It may have been a misunderstanding. I think differently then most people, so I have probably unwantingly communicated a bad message with a good heart. Even if they did make a mistake, we are all on a journey, so we have no right to judge them. Exiling a person from your life is not the answer either, but the Bible is clear that spending time with them can be dangerous. Bad morals does corrupt good company. More so, these relationships tend to be toxic, leaving us drained or torn down after a meeting. If I am going to meet with a gossiping girlfriend, I ask my husband to pray for protection for me, and I pray the same for myself - as well as my words would be honoring to God. Sin is always exposed eventually, so no need to take revenge yourself. We serve a just God.
If we have been talking badly about someone behind their backs, it is a good idea to go and apologize to the person you spoke to (not about). For example, if I spoke badly about my husband to a girlfriend, I would tell my friend I am sorry for speaking in a way that was disrespectful to God. This will work to restore trust between you and your friend. Also, if your friend is a Christian, you can get accountability out of it as well. We often think of gossip hurting the person who is not present, but it hurts the person you tell as well - whether they are aware of it or not.
Thanks to Catherine, Hope and Sara, who are friends who always leave me feeling encouraged! Thank God for all the kindred spirits and those who belong to the race that knows Joseph! If you get what book series this reference is to, comment your answer.
The painting above is titled "The Gossips" and is by Norman Rockwell.