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Biggest Killer of Interpersonal Relationships - Part 2

CONSEQUENCES OF GOSSIP

There was a man who told so many malicious untruths about the local rabbi that, overcome by remorse, he begged the rabbi to forgive him. “And, Rebbe, tell me how I can make amends.”

The rabbi sighed, “Take two pillows, go to the public square and there cut the pillows open. Wave them in the air. Then come back.”

The rumormonger quickly went home, got two pillows and a knife, hastened to the square, cut the pillows open, waved them in the air and hastened back to the rabbi’s chambers. “I did just what you said, Rebbe!”

“Good.” The rabbi smiled. “Now, to realize how much harm is done by gossip, go back to the square...”

“And?”

“And collect all your feathers.”
[1]

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Gossip often reaps irreparable consequences, yet focusing on the weaknesses of other people and gossiping about them has become a disposition of the majority of Christians. In doing so, many relationships are shallow, weak and dismantled. The intriguing thing is that people find great pleasure in gossiping and also listen with great curiosity and delight. It is said, “The words of a gossip are like tasty bits of food. People like to gobble them up” (Pro. 18:8, NCV). Yes, speaking ill of others appeases one’s 'self.' To many, gossip is a kind of great pleasure and quite difficult to avoid. Nevertheless, the Holy Scripture offers few warnings regarding the consequences of gossip which every Christian need to seriously consider:

a) Those who gossip cannot enjoy the holy presence of God in their lives. God hates gossip and His manifesting presence is far from gossipers. It is written, “Lord, who may enter your Holy Tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? Only those who are innocent and who do what is right. Such people speak the truth from their hearts and do not tell lies about others. They do no wrong to their neighbors and do not gossip (Pro. 15:1-3, NCV).

b) A gossiper is an untrustworthy person, lacks confidentiality and is therefore to be avoided. It is written, “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much” (Pro. 20:19).

c) Gossip ruins healthy relationship and wrecks one’s reputation. It is written, “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” (Pro. 16:28).

d) Gossip stirs up anger in interpersonal relationships. It is written, “The north wind brings forth rain, And a backbiting tongue, an angry countenance” (Pro. 25:23, NASB).

e) Entertaining gossips is to invite insurmountable problems in relationships. It is written, “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down” (Pro. 26:20).

f) The one who gossips is a troublemaker, not a peacemaker. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

Let us give thought to the above consequences before we attempt to gossip.

OVERCOMING GOSSIP


Most of us know that gossip is sin, yet most of us gossip. Remember - Gossip is like the fireworks, for it explodes valuable relationships. It is never a solution to the problems; instead it adds misery. As we are called to make every effort to live at peace with all men, we ought to deal with interpersonal problems according to God’s instructions. God knows our every problem and He has revealed in His Word how to deal with problematic situations. We have to approach issues without staining our mouths with gossip - after all, what good it
does to stain ourselves by throwing stones of gossip into the flaws of others. Therefore, to those who are willing to live in obedient to God's word, the following are some of the practical guidelines to overcome the problem of gossip:

a) Determine not to gossip: Make a firm resolution not to gossip about others. It is written about Daniel that he, “resolved not to defile himself” (Dan. 1:8a). Dave Hunt wrote, “Obedience begins with a determination to obey.”[2] Who can help an unwilling heart! There is no transformation without firm determination. To overcome gossip one must seriously resolve not to speak unnecessarily about the weaknesses and affairs of other people. We must not say, "I cannot help myself from gossiping" but "I can overcome gossip through Christ who strengthens me."

b) Discipline to mind one’s own business: People generally mind their own business when it comes to caring others but try to meddle in with other people’s private affairs. It is written in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders....” The admonition “lead a quiet life” is the translation of Greek [hesuchazo], "to refrain from gossip or meddlesomeness."
[3] We must focus on what we have to do and do it than worry about what others are not doing and start gossiping. Discipline yourself to stay focussed on your work and responsibilities without meddling in with superfluous issues. Be hard on yourself to become kind to others.

c) Deny those who gossip: One reason why people gossip more is because of eager listeners. Gossip must be firmly avoided, or else it will inevitably influence and entrap those who listen. We must not fear of hurting the people who gossip to us (when the hurt is actually for good) by firmly refusing them to gossip. If gossiping is dumping garbage on others then listening to gossip is to become a garbage can. So don't become a trash can but a vase of flowers. Listen to Paul’s counsel, “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Cor. 15:33). Warn a gossip gently to cease gossiping and if needed, firmly rebuke. If no change, avoid a person who gossips. God's word exhorts, "A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much" (Pro. 20:19).

d) Directly confront in love: Some people try to justify gossip by claiming what they speak is really the truth. Whether truth or false - gossip is harmful. If any problem occur in interpersonal relationships there is a way for restoration and must be dealt according to the set pattern given in the Holy Bible. In Matthew 18:15, Jesus taught, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault just between the two of you.” This is the most significant and appropriate method for restoration (
Of course there is room to share with confidential people who can help in counseling or solving the interpersonal problems. Matt. 18:16). If others sin against us, we must take initiation to correct them personally in love than gossip about them publicly.

It is always good and healthy to speak to the person regarding the problem rather than speak about the person before others. But some give excuses, “This doesn’t work; people won’t accept correction.” Our goal is to do all that we can, make every effort possible, to be in good relationship with others. It is not good to come to conclusions before facing the results. God always expects us to do our best and leave the rest to Him.

It’s true that all do not have the attitude to change but there is a great possibility of building sound relationships through this kind of approach. Though correcting others may not work all the time but there is all possibility for resolving conflicts and to build healthy relationships. Never forget this wise counsel, “If there are problems that need to be addressed, it is better to confront in love than to gossip.”
[4] If we do not have boldness and respect to confront the person directly it is better to shut our mouth rather than gossip.

e) Do know yourself: I have learned that when I don’t examine myself and recognize my own weaknesses I am easily prone to gossip about others. He who does not examine himself will always sneak to criticize others’ faults! If I know my own weaknesses and failures I will fear to speak ill about others. He who knows himself well will not be hasty to speak ill about others. When I truly understand how much God is gracious towards me I will refuse to be unkind toward others. I have observed that if I unkindly gossip about others the Lord will not shower His grace upon me, however desperately I cry, to overcome my own weaknesses.

I believe it is quite important that we always examine ourselves and know ourselves well, for doing this will help us to abstain from gossip. The more we understand our struggles with our own imperfections the more we would learn to speak kindly about others.
Very rarely do people speak about others' weaknesses with a concerned heart. Gossip usually comes out of a ruthless heart. Let us never forget the words of our Lord, “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Gossip is a sign of merciless heart, so let us learn to be merciful.

f) Dominate your tongue:
I think most of the sins that we commit are with our tongue. We have to learn to dominate or tame our tongue. No wonder it is written, "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise" (Pro. 10:19). Charles Swindoll was right when he said, “More than any slanderous event, any immoral act, any unwise financial dealings, that which breaks up a church quickest is an unchecked tongue.”
[5] Not only the church, an uncontrolled and unchecked tongue wrecks any relationship. Therefore, let us consider carefully before we speak. Alan Redpath suggested that before we speak - THINK:

T—Is it true?
H—Is it helpful?
I—Is it inspiring?
N—Is it necessary?
K—Is it kind?


If what I am about to say does not pass those tests, I will keep my mouth shut!
[6]


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[1] http://net.bible.org/illustration.php?topic=664
[2] Dave Hunt, Loving God (Bend Oregon: The Berean Call, Novermeber, 2004), pg. 4.
[3] International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Electronic text and markup copyright 1998 by Epiphany Software.
[4] Life Application Study Bible, New International Version (Co-published by, Wheaton, IL: Tyndale Hous Publishers, Inc. & Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991), pg. 2124.
[5] Charles R. Swindoll, Three Steps Forward Two Steps Back (New York: Bantam Books, 1982), pg. 166.
[6] Alan Redpath, Daily Christian Quote (March, 2005).

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