With very few exceptions, we women love to talk. We talk about our children, our husbands, our homes, our jobs, our ministries, and a million other things. I have a couple of sister-friends with whom I’ve been known to spend several hours talking, sharing our lives, offering one another counsel, laughing, and generally just enjoying our friendship. These are precious times, and I never consider them unproductive. This is time well spent, because it facilitates the tightening of that “cord of three strands” of which Solomon speaks in Ecclesiastes 4:12:
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated,but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.
Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (NLT)
That third person in the cord is the Spirit of God, and when He is honored in our conversations, they are indeed a blessing. As we share and talk together, we strengthen the bond that God has made in our friendship. Yes, these times are a valued investment because they produce a treasured result.
But what about those times when God is not honored in our conversation? To my shame, I must confess that I have been involved in some conversations that were not edifying to either of us, and certainly not honoring to the Lord. Have you? I have left these conversations feeling guilty, defeated, and a little bit fearful of what the ramifications might be. Almost universally, these conversations involved one thing: Gossip.
Now, before I go on about this, I want us to think about the definition of gossip. I believe gossip is defined by the intent of the person speaking. As always, it is the heart that determines what comes out of the mouth.
A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. (Mt. 6:45, NLT)
Did you catch that last phrase? That means that every single word out of your mouth came from something that is in your heart. Now, think back to the last time that you participated in gossip. Who were you talking about? I promise that you were trying to do one of two things as you were gossiping about this person: Build yourself up, or tear the other person down. Since these two things usually go hand in hand, it was probably both. Take a moment right now and examine your heart in this matter.
What is the reason you needed to build yourself up? Upon what do you base your image of yourself? Is it comparisons to others? If so, your heart is deceived. Jeremiah 17:9 says that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. In fact, you can’t even know how wicked it is! Only God knows that, and when he hears these things coming from our hearts, it grieves him. He wants us to base our view of ourselves on how HE sees us! If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, when God looks at you, He sees Christ!
Colossians 3:3 says that you have died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. The old you is dead, and the new you has been given life (2 Corinthians 5:17). You have been made perfect in Christ. Hebrews 10:14 tells us that “…by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” In Christ, you have been perfected for all time! If you are a perfect, holy image bearer of God, why would you need to tear someone else down to make yourself “feel better?” My dear sister-friend, this should not be! If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know the danger of living by your feelings. That practice will almost always lead you away from God, and gossiping in response to feelings is no exception.
I want to challenge you to examine your conversations this week. Are they edifying and encouraging, reflecting a heart that loves your friends (and even your enemies!) and desires the best for them? Or are they sprinkled with gossip and thinly-veiled “prayer requests” about others? Remember, every word out of your mouth comes from your heart, and you will have to give account one day for every careless one of them (Matthew 12:36). Personally, I’d like that to be a short list. How about you?