An Interactive Application of Scripture
August 13, 2022 |
Gossip and Sin-No-More
It is clear that gossip is everywhere in American culture, and it is so commonly practiced that most of us probably think of it as just another form of conversation. That is, we don’t see it as particularly corrosive or harmful. Yet, the Bible doesn’t treat it as such. In Romans 1:29-31, for example, gossip is in a list of detestable sins between “murder” and “haters of God.”
Gossip is corrupting talk, damaging people and relationships (Ephesians 4:29). And, if it is practiced in the church, then the crucial relationships that we need to form for spiritual growth will end up powerless – relationships characterized by words like superficial and pretending, rather than transparent and nurturing.
What are we to do, and how is this pattern changed? Gossip is cleansed in our lives just like any other sin, where we face change by relying upon God and others. On Sunday, August 7, the members of The Orchard had a brain-storming session to identify how we might make changes to address gossip.
As a reference, I introduced the “4+ Actions of Sin-No-More”. What’s this? Well, God does all the work in purifying us from sin, but this purification happens as we are willingly cooperating with him in 4 ways ... "plus" whatever healing and restoration that might take place. If we fight God and hold onto sin, then we sabotage the process.
If you want to pull up my Bible infographic on this, click on the image below to see a PDF that I created to help us navigate through these questions.
This is a summary of the ideas that were shared:
- When we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, we are freed from sin that holds us captive. But, we are still subject to temptation. So, as Mark 14:38 suggests, we should be prayerful and watching for those temptations that come our way.
- At the beginning of the day, in your morning prayer time, ask God to make you aware of gossip and to convict you when you might be gossiping.
- The Bible describes confession both to God and to people. Some will feel more comfortable talking just with God, and some might feel it is more effective if they also confess with a trusted person.
- Confession to another person is really powerful, but you should have absolute confidence that the other person is not going to “gossip” about your “gossip confession”.
- If you want to confess to a person, but are concerned about it “getting out” … then just so you know, Virginia law considers conversation with an ordained pastor to be a protected conversation. People do sometimes make confession to Pastor Doug. Joe Mettimano is also ordained.
- Journaling sin with prayer to God can be an effective form of confession.
- If you feel comfortable with your relationship partners that we’ve recently started, this might be a relationship where you can confess gossip.
- When you confess gossip, don’t just do a quick “I gossiped”, but reflect on the harm of the gossip. How did it hurt God? How did it hurt the person, or the person’s reputation? How is it corrupting?
- Confess each time that you are gossiping, and articulate it. Don’t just make a blanket statement.
- Avoid the news. The news these days is mostly gossip, with constant condemnation and negativity. You can go for months and months avoiding the news, and you will miss next to nothing … aside from the weather, 99.9% of news stories do not impact your life. But, constant listening, reading, and watching news will train you up in ways of gossip.
- It takes two to gossip – the talker and the listener. Even when you don’t initiate the gossip, you will often find yourself as a hearer of gossip. You could go all churchy and judgmental on the talker, condemning them, but there is a better way. Don’t “feed the bear” by going back and forth with the gossip, such as asking questions or adding to the conversation. Shut it down, politely, by saying “That’s too bad.” You might soon find that this person no longer comes to you because you aren’t engaging in the gossip.
- Lots of gossip happens at work, and typically in groups of people. If you hear gossip happening within a group, just walk away and get back to work.
- Don’t watch TMZ … don’t read the tabloids … don’t read the magazines in waiting rooms, like People. These train you up in gossip.
- Since gossip tends to put others down, so that one might feel superior to someone else, then seek humility. If tempted to gossip, serve that person instead. Pray for them. Try to understand how their situation needs mercy, forgiveness, understanding, etc.
- Philippians 2:3-4
Restoration (this is the “+”) … maybe:
- We pretty much agreed that once gossip happens, it is hard to “put the toothpaste back in the tube” because reputation and relationship damage is hard to heal. Sin destroys, and not all destruction can be healed.
- Maybe apologize and confess to the person?