“Will You Accept the Challenge?”
I recently read this story on the internet and it hit home. It reminded me a bit of my teen years…and our youth group today. See if this seems familiar to you…
I remember it like it was yesterday. The queasy stomach, the tears I fought to hold back, the incredible hurt I felt in my heart.
“You know, Anne,” my friend Heather said, “Lisa and Andrea were just talking about you.” I immediately got tense.
“They said you’re a kiss-up; that the only reason you start on the volleyball team is because the coach likes you. It’s not because you’re good.”
I thought I might be sick.
“They said they’re tired of you always getting what you want. You don’t deserve it.”
It was all I could do to hold back the tears as I sank to my knees on the cold, concrete floor. As Heather continued to tell me everything my supposed friends said about me, I was crushed. My mind raced. I knew I didn’t deserve this. But that didn’t make it any easier.
Lisa and Andrea came in from lunch break acting like nothing had happened. Lisa was still my locker mate, Andrea my partner on a history project. I was amazed at their ability to pretend we had the perfect friendship. Especially since they’d said such hurtful things.
I was a freshman in high school—and I felt like I didn’t have a friend in the world. All because of gossip.
Gossip is such a nasty and hurtful thing and yet despite it’s hurtfulness, it a major part of our youth group.
The Bible tells us the tongue is our worst enemy. “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.“ James 3:6 says.
In the book of Romans, Paul includes gossip among the sins of murder, envy, greed, deceit and malice and said those who do such things deserve death!
Why does God despise gossip? Proverbs offers several verses on the subject.
- Gossip betrays confidence. Proverbs 11:13 “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.”
- Gossip separates close friends. Proverbs 16:28 “A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.”
- Gossip is hurtful. Proverbs 18:8 “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”
When we say mean things about others, we’re inflicting emotional pain on them. Instead of punching them in the nose, we’re shooting daggers into their heart!
As Christians, we’re supposed to honor God in all areas of our lives. Talking negatively about friends or other people in general (including those in authority) does not show Christ’s unconditional love.
What should you do when you encounter gossip?
Stop, drop, and…
1. Speak out. Kindly but firmly tell your friends gossip is hurtful and that no one benefits from it.
2. Be positive. Turn the conversation around by saying something nice about the person being talked about.
3. Walk away. Don’t be part of the problem by sticking around to listen.
Gossip is everywhere—at school, at home, on the Internet and even on Sunday. We must be vigilant and not become privy to this sin.
What do you do when YOU are tempted to gossip?
Stop, drop and…
1. Resist the urge. 1 Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
2. Pray. Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
What do you do when YOU are guilty of gossip?
Stop, drop and …
- 1. Go to God. Ask the Lord to forgive you of the sin of gossip.
- Confess it to your friends. Ask those you gossiped to for forgiveness.
- Seek reconciliation. Ask the one you gossiped about for forgiveness.
What do you do when YOU are the victim of gossip?
Stop, drop and …
- Go to God. Talk, cry, scream—whatever it takes to resolve your hurt. Just hand it over to him.
- Forgive. You can only do this by the grace of God. No matter how difficult it is, pray for God to forgive them and have mercy on them. Matthew 6:14 “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
- Confront. When your emotions are under control, tell the person or people who hurt you how their words made you feel. Then tell them you forgive them.
So what happened with Lisa and Andrea? Here’s the conclusion to the story…
When they pretended our friendship hadn’t changed, I was tempted to lash out. But I took a step back. I talked to God. And through my tears I found a true friend in Jesus—one who would never betray me.
He gave me the strength to tell my friends they had hurt me. Lisa started crying; Andrea didn’t know what to say. I knew they were both sorry for what they had said. They apologized, and through the grace of God I was able to forgive them. Sure, things were a little tense at first, but after a while everything was back to the way it was before.
I still deal with gossip, whether it is as a recipient or a participant. But the more I learn about God’s love, the more I realize the importance of encouraging others—and that never includes gossip.
Wow! That took a lot of guts! But who had the victory? Who was the strong one? Who pleased the Lord? You see, when we do things God’s way he always rewards us. He will give us peace and joy despite the nasty attitudes of others. He will bless us with the approval of authority – parents, pastors, teachers, etc. You will experience spiritual growth like never before. You will understand the tender, loving hand of Jesus upon your life and how pleasing Him is so much better than striving to please others.
The close of 2013 is just around the corner. A new year is upon us. Will you take the challenge to forsake gossip and slander? Gossip destroys others but it destroys you more. It turns your heart from God to the lust of your flesh and pride. Will you deny your flesh and purpose to grow in grace in 2014?
“Let it not be once named among you… foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love…” (Ephesians 5:1,3)