Identifying the root will help us steer away from this damaging habit and focus on effective change.
“Did you see that shirt they were wearing?!”
“Her child was straight up crazy in the store today.”
“Dude needed a spot on 115!”
Any of these sound familiar to you? These are some common phrases just vomited out by people after we see something we feel that we are above. We don’t truly feel that way, though, and we certainly don’t feel good afterward.
As Christians, no, as people, we are called to build one another up. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” For those in the front seats of the church that feel they talk about people as means of “bringing awareness” please be reminded by James 1:26: “Those who consider themselves religious, yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues, deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” As followers of Christ, we should be continuing his good works. We should be multiplying it, not killing it. Gossip kills productivity in our connection with others.
So why do we do it? We know Paul says in Romans 7:17, “So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.” If we look at “sin” in further detail, it is defined as an immoral act against divine law. The law says we should have no other gods before Him and that we should not covet. Those are the closest applicable laws that gossip is tied to. What is the connection here? The connection is that we gossip out of lack, which is a behavior born out of fulfilling law. The law was in place to show us where we lacked and why we needed God. We needed the law to show us how far we actually were from morality.
To define “gossip”, we should know it is simply casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people. So gossiping is simply talking about business that really is not ours to share. Your child’s friend that had an unhealthy doctor checkup is not validation that you are a good parent. Your higher gym endurance doesn’t automatically make you the top choice athlete. If you really stop and think about why you start talking about other people, even with little things, what do you find? Something is missing in us. 2 Corinthians 12:20 says, “For I am afraid that when I come, I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorder.”
When I mentally started to talk about one of the examples above to my son, the spirit stopped me and reminded me that I should not say what I thought. I listened, and then explored. My intention was that by sharing what I was going to share, I would display an outstanding parental role. Titus 2:7 says, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity and dignity.” My friends, though I would have displayed a respectable parent by saying his check up was better than his peer, my heart did not reflect such health. What I found when evaluating my intention in that moment was that I was not really sure how good of a parent I really was, so I was willing to take every chance I can get to prove to myself that I am…even if it means compromising what I believe in my spirit. Integrity was missing in that moment; I wanted to just start talking. Love was missing. Jesus gave us two simple commandments in Matthew 22:37-40: Love God, and love other people. When we talk about other people in a way that doesn’t add value to our lives, we miss that commandment, and we miss the fruit that integrity brings in our lives.
The root of gossip is lack. In some form, we talk about people out of uncertainty in ourselves. We lack security.
In this lack, we must bring our focus away from the lack, and onto God. God is our source. We must remember that when we gossip, we are trying to prove our worth, but the law was already fulfilled by Christ. We don’t have to prove anything in this sense. Matthew 5:17 says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law, or the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” What that leaves us with is focusing on our own place in Jesus’ two commandments. If we talk about other people, it should be to pray for them in the secret place, the place where our heart is purest. Galatians 6:4 says, “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.”
The fruits of the spirit, as found in Galatians 5:22, are:
These are the fruits that help us carry out what Christ called us to do.
Guys, it’s time to be honest with ourselves. It’s time to stop gossiping. It will never produce the fruit we need to connect with our purpose in Christ. I hope that you will join me in the prayer below as we seek to evaluate our true need and come away from this damaging habit. Our interactions with others should consist of nothing but what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. You are loved.
God, your word says I should evaluate my own life, mind my own business, and be helpful to people. I see now that there may be something in me that I don’t feel satisfied with or secure in. Please help me see that, God. Give me wisdom to see it and then inspire my spirit with vision to make the changes I need to make to truly move forward and live more confidently in you.
The Enneagram type 3 song from Sleeping At Last covers seeing ourselves as broken, perhaps for the first time. It reminds us we are loved and is really just a beautiful and peaceful song. Listen here: Sleeping At Last-Three