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Choose To Not Gossip

Without wood, fire goes out; without a gossip, conflict dies down.
-Prov. 26:20

I love to talk, share, catch up, and hear all the news about people that I know.  But, I don't want hear gossip, nor do I want to spread gossip.  I don't want to sin, myself; nor do I want to lead others to sin.

Gossip can be destructive, which is why God says not to do it.  Is what comes out of my mouth life-building or not?  Sharing and news is fine, but I don't want to stir the pot of a destructive quarrel.

I want reconciliation,  God's viewpoint, and forgiveness.  I want love and grace and truth and mercy.  I want the fruit of the Spirit.

"What is gossip?'  Gossip is a loaded word.  It might just mean "news".  Or it might mean telling someone else's secrets or violating their confidentiality.  It is malicious when we bash, judge, and condemn another person.

If there is a quarrel involved, does telling about it make it better or worse?  How can we talk about a conflict, especially if we are in the conflict, with grace towards the other person?  But, you might hurt because of what they did, said, did not do, or did not say.

When we share about the other, it is very easy to render judgement and violate Jesus' command, "Judge not"(Matt. 7:1 & Luke 6:37), because in our hurt, we are condemning.  Instead we need to talk about our hurt, our disappointment, our disillusionment, and our loss.  You can heal from all these, but talking about the other person only makes you feel hurt, because that is not and never is the path to healing, but protracted pain.

To clarify that the gossip is more than news, we call it malicious gossip.  Some Bible translations say "talebearer".  That is different from someone who just gives you news about what someone is up to or how their endeavor is going.

Some people are "non-malicious talebearers", or "town crier's".  It is very common to bring in a distant (not in the room) third party, in a conversation, which is called "triangling".  We talk about or ask about the third party, when we are uncomfortable with the "I and thou" intimacy of the one-to-one conversation.

The words "fire" and "conflict" give us a clue as to what the proverb above is teaching us.  If you are in a conflict with someone, gossip fuels the conflict.  As Christians, in Christ, we want reconciliation.  But gossiping has the opposite affect.

If Tim and Joe are in a conflict and they talk about the other person, to a third party, in any manner that is not loving, gracious, merciful, and forgiving; then they are probably adding sticks to their fire of conflict.  Venting or raging is not in the Christian life.  We "talk down" other people and then say, "Thanks for letting me vent."

But, anger is in the Christian's life.  In the Bible, it says, "In your anger do not sin.  Don not let the sun go down on your anger." (Prov. 4:4 & Eph. 4:26).  We get angry.  We need to release our anger.  Many Christians are angry people because the do not know how to release their anger and let the sun set on it.

When we are tempted to gossip and it is not just the neurotic need to triangle, because of fear of intimacy (being truly known); it is often because we are angry.  We say that we hurt or the other hurt us or we are just pained by what the other said or did, so we need to tell the tale to the third party.

This kind of 'sharing' makes things worse.  We need to own our anger and get beneath it, rather than gossiping, which is destructive.  We end up saying (or thinking), "Well, I guess relationships are just too hard and it's no use", or we are perpetually involved in conflict ridden, broken relationships; marked more by our suffering in them, than mutual edification.

When we are in conflict with another person and feel angry at them, we need to get underneath that anger to feel the hurt, fear, or loss.  "Tell me how you hurt", "Tell me what you fear", or "Tell me about your loss".  That is where the conversation needs to go, rather than "venting".  When the person wants to talk about the other, we continually need to bring the conversation back to the "I and thou" or me and you and as "How do you feel?" or "How is that for you."

A better way is to pray for that person.  Maybe you do need to share your feelings, but after you share your feelings, then pray.  You are moving in the opposite spirit of conflict, division, bitterness and so forth, when you pray.  Pray for the one you are in conflict with.  Discipline your self to live Jesus way, following him.

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