Have you ever been in a situation where you are surrounded by people who act as though they are your friends, but they are just waiting to hurt you? My last job felt that way…. there were a few people there who weren’t that way, but those closest to me hurt me deeply …. I can’t explain it, but King David knew how it felt.
“They visit me as if they were my friends, but all the while they gather gossip, and when they leave, they spread it everywhere. All who hate me whisper about me, imagining the worst…. Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me.” – Psalms 41:6-7, 9 NLT
How is it that we become so bent on promoting ourselves that we don’t have a care for those who are with us? I am guilty of many things, including gossip and being judgmental, and in my past I probably tried to use gossip to make myself look better. The truth, though, is that when we attempt to make someone else look bad so that we look better is that the opposite happens. It may not be immediate, but everyone who lies (and gossip is inherently lying) will be caught out. Gossiping is a base kind of betrayal, and will only cause disharmony. Being a gossip is like trying to pet a wild animal. It may be soft and cuddly for the moment, but when it turns on you it is all teeth and claws. I know, because I have been bloodied and bruised. James addresses the issue in a letter to the early church:
“You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it…. Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s Law. But your job is to obey the Law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, Who gave the Law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?” – James 4:2, 11-12 NLT
Even those who got to see Jesus couldn’t resist the urge to scheme and gossip, making trouble for their friends and neighbors! It is imperative that we fight the enemy in this area. James went on to say this:
“In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” – James 3:5-6 NLT
“The tongue is a flame of fire…set on fire by hell itself.” That statement is BRUTAL. When it comes to gossip, we often attempt to disguise it. “We need to pray for so and so, because their spouse cheated…” or some variation. Someone says “please pray for me, I’m going through a difficult time…” and we immediately zoom in with questions for details. We DON’T NEED DETAILS, we just need to lift them up in prayer. If the person asking for themselves wants to provide specifics, then it’s their choice, but it’s not for us to give the details to anyone else. When you hear a rumor, or gossip, go to that person and ask them. Betrayal is painful, and gossip and rumors are the worst kinds of betrayal, especially from Christians. Let’s work on being real friends.