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Biggest Killer of Interpersonal Relationships - Part 1

Four preachers met for a friendly gathering. During the conversation one preacher said, “Our people come to us and pour out their hears, confess certain sins and needs. Let’s do the same. Confession is good for the soul.” In due time all agreed. One confessed he liked to go to movies and would sneak off when away from his church. The second confessed to liking to smoke cigars and the third one confessed to liking to play cards. When it came to the fourth one, he wouldn’t confess. The others pressed him saying, “Come now, we confessed ours. What is your secret or vice?” Finally he answered, “It is gossiping and I can hardly wait to get out of here.”[1]

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Look at the people when they come together and what do you notice? Gossip is the heart of conversation; it adds spice to the talk. You can hardly find a gathering of two or three people without wallowing in gossip. These days almost everyone looks like a newspaper with a gossip column. Well, what is bad about gossip? “To gossip means,” wrote Lawrence G. Lovasik, “to talk needlessly about the faults and failings of others….To gossip means to watch closely the conduct of one’s neighbor and to indulge in unwarranted criticism of his motives and in rash judgment as to the nature of his sins.”[2]

Who doesn’t relish talking about the weaknesses of others? Quite few, right? "The only time people don't like gossip is when the gossip is about them", said Will Rogers.[3] Like a hungry person desperate to stuff his stomach with food the one who gossips is always desperate to talk about other people’s affairs. Gossip gives incessant pleasure to its instrument and insurmountable pain to its object. It is, no wonder, the major killer of interpersonal relationships. Heaven knows how many relationships have been broken, causing irreparable damage, because of this ill-mannered conversation.

When it comes to gossip what saddens is that many Christians manifest no different attitude from the worldly people. It has become almost impossible for them to meet together without speaking ill of others. Where two are gathered there is the devil usually present to tempt them to talk evil about the third person. In my experience I’d seldom witnessed people who do not gossip. I am ashamed to admit that at times I myself fell victim to this wicked conversation.

How many enjoy gossip under the mask of Christian fellowship! How lovingly people act when face to face and later speak evil behind each other! At worst, this is one area where people become too defensive to accept their sin. They have become so desensitized to this sin that they no longer consider it as something detestable in the sight of the Holy One. If we honestly examine ourselves in the light of the Holy Spirit, many of us may be found guilty of this wretched sin–gossip.

In these last days, the devil is using this as his mighty weapon, for he is aware that gossip has disruptive influence upon the unity of the Spirit. In his first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul wrote, "I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder" (1Cor 12:20). I fear it is the same with many Christians today. As it only takes a spark to destroy the whole forest, so it takes just a gossip to wreck wonderful relationships.

Remember, relationships perish when people relish to gossip!


REASONS FOR GOSSIP

There are reasons why people love to gossip. These reasons do not justify the sin of gossip but should rather caution us to avoid gossip when we find ourselves in such situations. Some of them are:

a) Problems: People generally gossip when they confront problems with others. Gossip is often the reaction of an offended heart. No problems, no gossip. At times problems may not necessarily be with others but with themselves, for there are times the real problem doesn’t exist in a situation but in perception. Of course, there are rare situations when people gossip even when there are no problems, only to create problems.

b) To seek comfort and attention from others: When people are hurt by someone what they often do is to try to seek comfort from others by gossiping about the offensive one. They want others to feel sorry for them.

c) To release bitterness: Gossip is a release of bitterness from one’s heart against someone. This release isn’t about “freeing from bitterness” but “spreading of bitterness”. In most cases, people gossip, not to get the right counsel in order to approach the problem, but to spread their bitterness to others.

d) To justify themselves: Those who gossip do so to justify themselves before others. When their ‘ego’ is under disrepute or under threat, people gossip to prove that they are right and good by defaming others.

e) To idle away the time: Some gossip to idle away their time. They are sluggards and idle talkers who relish gossiping about the affairs of other people—after all, gossiping is the best way to pass time. About such people the Holy Bible says, “Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to” (1 Timothy 5:13).

Those who know how to use their time wisely do not get into superfluous talk.

(To be continued.....)
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Notes:

[1] Taken from: http://net.bible.org/illustration.php?topic=664
[2] Lawrence G. Lovasik, Kindness (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1962), pg. 205.
[3] Taken from: http://www.kentcrockett.com/cgi-bin/illustrations/index.cgi?topic=Gossip

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Contact: friendsofchrist@gmail.com

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