We have all been the subject of gossip at one point or another. We find out people have been talking about us for a prolonged period of time. Having heard what they we saying about us, we walk away dejected. We feel hurt and dejected knowing that our “friends” would talk about in that way and benefit at our expense. Our friendship is strained and love that we shared with our friends seems weakened. What is worse is that, more than likely, we have gossiped about someone else. A story of something someone did is too great to pass on even though the story only serves to embarrass that person. Regardless of the consequences or how it would make our friend feel, we gossiped.
Gossip is deadly for our relationships with one another. If we truly believe that words have the power to create life, as they did at the beginning of time, then we know the destructive potential they hold. We know that we can stir up a person or people to love or hate based on how we speak. When we gossip, we are setting ourselves up as being better than others, or avoiding a conflict with the person we are taking with.
A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends. – Proverbs 16:28, NIV
I have found that we do not need help in destroying relationships. At our core, without the redemption of Christ, we are highly skilled at destroying unity and loving relationships, even friendships. The temptation to laugh at the misfortune of others is too high for us. Words may be powerful and unable to be tamed by man, but we can submit our words to Christ and seek to build our relationships with one another. Gossip does not have the be the source of our conversation with other people.
Exalting Other Over Ourselves
Where Gossip seeks to exalt ourselves at the expense of others, a Christ centered life exalts other over ourselves. Jesus is the prime example of putting the needs of others above his own personal needs.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. — Philippians 2:5-7, NIV
Jesus could have very well came in condemned everyone according to their actions. Instead, Jesus chose to take the consequences that we rightfully earned and placed them on himself. Furthermore, Christ could have come into this world with the authority of a King, but for our sake, Christ came as a servant, seeking to ensure our eternal destiny with Him. Our mindset should be the same. In the way that Christ put others before himself, we should put others before ourselves. When we demonstrate love for others, we seek to lift them up in conversation, not to parade their faults in front of others.
Handle Conflict Directly
In other instances, we are gossiping as the result of a conflict with someone. Rather than handling the conflict directly, we gossip. The conflict only intensifies as we continually stir up the feelings driving the conflict but without any of the resolution. We talk about others, why we have hatred for someone else, the things they do that bugs us, but never actually confront the idea. Choosing to gossip the issue instead of handling the issue directly does not restore relationships, it tears them apart. When we have an issue with someone, we should bring it to the person to work it out. Sometimes, even a strong friendship needs to fight and work through the issue in order to go back to being friends. It takes love and care for a person to confront them with your true honest feelings. It takes ambivalence to talk about them behind their back.
Words have power to either speak life or destroy relationships. Gossip may seem like a valid option to advance ourselves or passive aggressively handle a conflict, but it does not display the nature of God. Where Gossip disrupts love and relationships, God brings restoration and redemption. When we talk with others, it is important to watch our words in regard to how we speak of others. We refuse to Gossip because of the grace that God has shown us by wiping us clean of our sins and bringing us to wholeness.
Questions for Thought
What was a time that you were the victim of gossip? How do you think that it feels for others when people gossip about them? Leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.