Saturday, August 5, 2017

How Not to Gossip

In this final installment in the series, we’ll consider how we can refrain from either initiating, or participating, in gossip.

Our first duty is to ensure that gossip does not originate with us. Our second duty is to ensure that we do not participate in gossip initiated by another.

If we find, as a follower of those precepts, that we suddenly have nothing to say, then that, I’m afraid, indicates the rather deplorable state of our heart!

I mean, if gossiping about other people or situations is all one has ever conversed about, then it’s time to do some heavy lifting of Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

If we find ourselves at a loss as to how to correct a critical spirit, and thus, stop gossiping, we can begin here. defines the word “dwell” as such:

“to live or continue in a given condition or state,” “to linger over, emphasize, or ponder in thought, speech, or writing.”

It’s no surprise that we call the places in which we live, “dwellings.” We are to dwell, live within, the teaching of Philippians 4:8. 

It is the antidote to every impulse to say self-centered, slanderous, meddling, thunder-stealing or mean-spirited words.

Using the Philippians model, if we are tempted to knock someone’s choice of a restaurant for dinner, for instance, we can instead look for something—anything—good about the restaurant (perhaps the waiter is super nice; maybe the fresh flowers adorning the tables are lovely).

If we are tempted to pass on information that is not ours to tell, we can focus on "whatever is true" and remind ourselves that our habit of taking the wind out of other people's sails, bursting their bubbles or breaking a confidence is stealing. We can instead begin to rely on God alone to meet our need for attention and affirmation.

If someone in our family or place of work consistently rubs us the wrong way, we can force ourselves to find in them at least one likeable trait, and focus on that alone.

Nipping negativity and a low self-confidence in the bud has the purpose of preventing us from carrying it with us out into the larger world as gossip spoken behind someone's back. 

Now, as much as this sounds like positive thinking, it isn’t. It is replacement thinking in which the ultimate goal is to see people as Christ sees them.

When we remember that Christ sees us as we really are—the laudable and the lousy—we can pray that He will allow us to not just see other people’s low points, but their stellar features as well (again, we wouldn’t want other people to only focus on our downside all of the time, would we? And other people don’t want us to do that to them, either).

While we won’t forget or be blind to the things about people that bother us (or at least that bothered us in the past), when we truly seek to love others as Christ commands, He will add to our vision people's charming, kind, endearing, and helpful aspects as well.

This is the discipline of obedience.

If we go back to the previous posts on gossip—and to Scripture for even more teaching on the topic—we are convicted that, as followers of Christ, we must bring our words under His authority

And when we are in agreement with Christ and His Word on His definition—and condemnation of—gossip, and ask Him to remove it, He will, because having control over our tongues is what He wills for us.

Do we ever get to where it is no longer a difficult, constraining discipline to control our tongue? To where Philippians 4:8 supernaturally lives out in us, with ease and our not seeming even to try?


That is the whole meaning of sanctification: when the Christ-likeness we practice through obedience morphs into integrity of our person. It simply becomes who we are, all glory to Christ.

As we practice, we pray to God that our hearts catch up with our compliance to Christ, making Philippians 4:8 the norm.

This usually involves some heart surgery.

And the surgery is what we do one on one with God through Christ and His Holy Spirit.

While practice in Christian living is one part of adjusting the heart, we must be dedicated also to personal time with God in His Word.

This is where we get honest with God and receive His impartial estimation of our condition.

This time with God is spent working out with Him all of the offenses we have imagined or actually experienced in life, letting Him pry those sticky burrs from our grip.

This is the pilgrimage of Christ’s sanctification that shifts our hearts from embittered to enlivened; from resentful to reconciled; from anguished to affirmed.

This is the road to maturity in Christ—adopting His attitudes and worldview and acquiring, finally, His love for others and our selves, and our love for Him. It is a love entirely removed from how the world loves and gives permission to love.

Christ’s love is taught in His Word, and it is through His Word and His Spirit only that we ever learn how to love. 

And only when we can love as He loves will we win the battle, once and for all, with the nemesis that is gossip.

copyright by Barb Harwood

“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:3-10

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