Have You Prayed About it? (As Much As You’ve Talked About It?)
This is an emotional appeal to my brothers and sisters in Christ. There is nothing more damaging to the body of Christ than gossip. I believe that gossip from within is far more dangerous than even persecution from without. Persecution can strengthen, gossip always destroys. Destruction from within is next to impossible to guard against. Those who you are yoked with, turning their backs on you, and defaming you, slandering, tearing families apart…how can you fight against that? It must not begin, and if it has, if you are gossiping about your brethren, please stop.
To all those who think they know what is going on in any particular situation, or if you have second, third, fourth or fifth hand information…stop speculating, stop listening, and rebuke those who talk about it! Unless you are directly involved you do not know all the details. Perhaps there was public sin, or sin that has come to light, yes there are consequences for sin, but we are overlooking that there may have been repentance, and forgiveness and restoration. So please…
Stop judging; before you toss that stone…have you never sinned?
Stop condemning; are you greater than Jesus who took all of our sins upon himself?
Stop taking pleasure in that which displeases our Heavenly Father.
Go, stand next to them, pray for and with them, be hands and feet to each other…stop being itchy ears and salivating tongues!!!!!
I got that out.
Now, as I compose myself. Let’s turn to the Bible. In Luke 18:9, we read of the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. It begins as follows:
“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.”
Now, perhaps it seems unimportant, but notice that it says that Jesus told this parable to some people who were sinning, namely the Pharisees. Jesus was looking at the Pharisees and telling them a parable that was directed at their own sin. He was not talking about them but to them!
This parable contains a lesson for the well-being of our church. Brothers and sisters, please, let’s be like Jesus in this. Let’s not talk to others about people’s sins. Let’s talk to them about their sins. Oh I know that it is so easy to talk about people and their sins. It is so juicy isn’t it? It makes us feel better about our own shortcomings if we can point at someone else and essentially say…”look at how depraved they are! I am not that bad…” It is so much harder to talk to the one who sinned isn’t it? When you are talking about someone, they can’t defend themselves against wrong, and they can’t turn it around on you and make you the sinner – because, well it is YOU that is gossiping after all. But if you talk to them about their sin, yes, it can be agonizing, but God can use us to win our brother or sister back, if we follow Matthew 18.
And if, in a particular situation, the sin has been already been dealt with and repented of and is only coming to light now…why would we even talk about it with the people who committed it? The sin is dealt with, repented of and forgiven. So instead of gossiping, or admonishing them, perhaps we should go visit them, see how they are doing, offer support to all the people involved. Be a hand and foot to each other. I mean, if you care enough to talk about it under the guise of Christian love, why not actually show some Christian love to those who are hurting?
Let’s be more like Jesus in this case and not talk about people, but talk to them! If repentance is evident, then speak with words of encouragement, because of the grace we see in their lives, and if repentance is not evident then speak with words of admonition or rebuke. In 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Paul tells us to:
“Admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
He does not say, “pretend to care about them and talk behind their backs.” He does not say talk about them! Regardless of where they are, who they are, what they have done, we are to stand beside our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Perhaps I am an idealist…No…Scratch that. I AM an idealist. But they are not my ideals, they are HIS ideals. My desire for my church family is that we be free from gossip. Let’s be honest with each other. Let’s be courageous and humble in the face of sin. Jesus was so very blunt with the Pharisee’s sin, he attacked sin with reckless abandon, but he did not gossip. Love sometimes can be blunt, sometimes it must be blunt. Love can be hard, but it is too a person, for a person, NEVER about a person. Brothers, we know that Jesus was hard on sin, he hated it, but he was the most loving person who ever walked this earth – he gave his life for you and me by BECOMING our sin on the cross. So let’s follow Jesus when we are tempted to talk about the things that are happening in our church. Jesus died for all of us. He died and rose again so that all the logs and specks in our eyes may be forgiven, yours, theirs, and mine. That should give us all courage and care in dealing with others. Especially when we realize that the sins of our brothers and sisters have also been forgiven by Jesus.
What a blessing we have as God’s Covenant people. What better place than here, the communion of the Saints, to engage in relationships? We are a forgiven and justified community of people who have the Holy Spirit living in us, growing in grace together as sons and daughters of the most high GOD!
So let me thank you in advance.
Thank you for following Jesus in talking to each other rather than about each other.