The following is an excerpt from Lisa Bevere’s book, Strong: Devotions to Live a Powerful & Passionate Life.
“Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” Proverbs 11:12-13
We’ve all had it happen: You’re having a nice conversation when someone in the mix starts gossiping. You look around the group in the hope that someone will put an end to it. But the longer you listen, the more uncomfortable you become with confronting it. You convince yourself that you can handle what you’re hearing; after all, you’re mature and wise… you’ll be able to remain unbiased. What you won’t realize until later is that your vision has been clouded. The next time you see the person who was discussed, it will be awkward. Or the next time you simply hear her name, you will feel the pressure to judge her, not just her actions but her motives. It’s a challenge to avoid gossiping ourselves, but even listening to gossip taints us (Proverbs 17:4). This is a very real daily dynamic we must navigate in social media.
It will serve us well to first understand what a gossip does if we are to avoid being a party to it.
Merriam-Webster defines a gossip as “a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others.” A gossip is in the habit of sharing intimate information with people who are not immediately involved in the situation. Everyone has gossiped at some point in time. But someone who is a gossip does it without even thinking. Experience has taught me that their motive can be as innocent as wanting to feel valid and important or as dark as wanting to destroy someone’s reputation.
Gossip poisons relationships and distorts the truth.
Gossip is always a betrayal of trust. A secret, an incident, a conflict that could have been covered is repeated for someone else’s gain. One person is sold out so the other person can gain security, position, or influence. People gossip to gain status, get attention, entertain, or make themselves feel better. Others gossip to punish or put someone in their place by judging them with their words.
That’s not our place.
The Holy Spirit tenderizes our heart so that if we talk about someone, we feel checked. If the enemy knows you are guarding what you say, he may try to trip you up with what you watch, read, or hear. Don’t let him. Guarding against gossip is such an important part of guarding your heart. As you commit to pull away form these types of conversations, lean into the Spirit for wisdom on how to navigate these situations. Sometimes it is best to just get up and walk away. You don’t want your mouth to take you down that dark path. Don’t allow anyone to speak badly of those close to you. Instead, pray, love, and when necessary, confront them.
Lord, place a watch over my mouth and ears so I don’t taint my heart. Teach me how to gently but firmly hold my ground, edit my life, and respond to the check in my spirit. Amen.
If this prayer spoke to your heart, check out Lisa Bevere’s Strong: Devotions to Live a Powerful & Passionate Life.