Wednesday, September 12, 2007

gossip

What is gossip? Some Christians think it's okay to talk about others if what is being said is "true". But does this practice meet the standard of the "Jesus Creed" of loving God with are all and loving our neighbor as ourselves? We know better.

I'm amazed at how the flaws and foibles of people are consistently pointed out by Christians who themselves have flaws and foibles. And don't we all?

It's said that in a business context or workplace there is a time to talk about the weaknesses or downside of others. I suppose that's true, though I grudgingly give it that much.

When someone is not doing well in something why can't we as a friend take them aside and first listen to them, while sharing with them our concern? Why do we have to bat it around with others?

The tongue has the power of life and death (Proverbs). Let's be careful what we say, and what we hear. Let's not countenance any form of gossip. We'd better look at ourselves in the mirror first and pick on ourselves before we say a disparaging word about another.

Any thoughts here? Where might I be off, a little (or more)?

17 comments:

joe said...

ted,
i my small community, this might be our most powerful sin. it has destroyed relationships and trust. yet, it is still so widely accepted. they want me to get on my young people about smoking and drinking, when the tongue flies out of control. my struggle is ted, what i just told you, is that gossip?

i struggle to know what gossip is. is me telling you about all the gossipers in town gossipping? lol. i dont know. i just know that the tongue is powerful yet we use it so loosely. i think you're on to something.

Kim said...

For me - gossip is talking about anyone to another person in a less-than-positive light when they are not present. If you're going to talk behind someone's back - make it edifying. Anything off or critical needs to be spoken to them personally...or not at all. My mother taught me this when I was little. If you can't say something nice...don't say it at all.

Of course now we have the internet! I can blog about them and call it journaling! (this is me rolling my eyes and pointing 3 fingers back at me)

My purple bracelet has been a great help in reminding me of this. LOL

http://kimaliczi.blogspot.com/2007/07/breaking-bad-habits.html

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

No, I think you're right on. One of the "rules" we try to use around here is that, if you're not part of the problem or the solution, you probably don't need to know about it.

Sometimes people just like to feel included and gossip has a unifying theme for those that are "in the know". I think that, at other times, sometimes people are so scripturally weak that they know something is wrong but don't know how to correct it. They not only don't know Gal 6:1 is in the bible, they are "you who are spiritual".

People do need, just as you say, to be quietly taken aside and corrected, but the qualification for a "corrector" is also that of those who teach - they must be wise, steeped in the knowledge and practical application of scripture, and make sure that they are taking an even harder look at themselves than they are others.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

PS - sorry you're having trouble sleeping. I can fall asleep if I've had too much caffeine - I just sleep fitfully.

Thanks for the book recommendations.

Jim Martin said...

Ted,
I think you are touching on one of the most accepted and destructive sins that exist in churches.

Very good thoughts.

L.L. Barkat said...

I'm in agreement with Susan. Gossip can, oddly, be a form of bonding. Yet if I bond that way with someone, I realize that this person who accepts such bonding activity is probably going to go bond with someone else using me as a little glue. :) Sometimes that helps me keep myself in better check.

NaNcY said...

there are some interesting bible verses about gossip. also, the etymology of the word is also very informative, i like using the etymonline...http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=gossip&searchmode=none

it is wise to bite the little flappy thing behind the teeth before saying anything about anyone.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Joe, I think it's a matter of respecting others. When we're talking about someone, even when this hinges on an issue that concerns us, and this talk is negative against them, I think we and others can tell.

If it's saying something like, "They're really struggling and just can't seem to get ______ done," maybe that's not gossip.

Of course in the context of friendships and relationships what might be gossip in other cases may not be such in those.

For example, "Bob is always late; you know that's Bob." This may be perturbing, but it can be told in good, jovial-like spirit, and with much appreciation for who Bob is. I've seen this.

General rule for me: If I wouldn't say it in front of someone, I'd better not say it behind their back. But also not in front of others if there would be possible embarrassment.

A great thing: confession to God and to each other.

Anyhow, Joe, yeah- tongues are meant for blessing and if they don't bless, or withhold blessing, I wonder if in a sense it is a cursing.

Much more to say on this; I'd better stop the rambling!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Kim, Yes, I remember reading about your purple bracelet. We need whatever and all the whatevers we can get sometimes to break some habits, I know firsthand.

Good to be taught the truth about this by parents, especially when they model it.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Susan, I like that rule.

So true, most all of us have succumbed to going along with something in weakness.

I really think that to go along and laugh along, especially over time is to share in the person's sin to a serious extent.

I think of those in charge over others in a work situation. But your description of those who can and should do this when needed is a very apt adn good one.

I like the TNIV rendering of Galatians 6:1, something like, "You who are led by the Spirit" etc. And I like Bonhoeffer's point that only those who live under the cross themselves can help others to forgiveness (in "Life Together").

I can drink coffee and sleep right afterwards normally as well. But if I'm drinking alot of it due to lack of sleep then over time I can have this problem. I drank mostly decaf today. Thanks.

Yes, I think Volf is more than worth the read and effort it takes in doing so. And I know we can't read them all.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Jim, Thanks much.

Accepted and destructive. Wow. That is devastating. And no wonder it is talked about quite a bit in scripture.

Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L., Excellent point and so very true! It turns my stomach to hear someone being roasted, even if in a supposedly Christian matter. I know I'm on the menu sooner or later as well, or could be!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy, Thanks! I added that link to my favorites.

Yes, biting our tongue. When in doubt, don't. And before that it's good to pray the psalmist's prayer that the Lord would put a watch over our tongue. Good all the way around.

Allan R. Bevere said...

Ted:

Thanks for your post. Some people do not realize the damaging effects gossip can have on the community of faith; least of all the gossips themselves. Of course, I have been guilty myself from time to time. May God forgive me.

The Walk said...

I've started to see gossip as "would I want them saying this about me if our roles were switched?" Gossip can be so destructive--especially in churches. On the other hand, there are certainly times and situations when it's alright, or even important, to speak up, even behind someone's back. Having this rule for myself has helped and humbled me (as it has also forced me to become more open about my own struggles).

Is it always gossip, though, if you're complaining about someone behind his back, but not for the purpose of helping the situation? Sometimes in difficult family or ministry situations--like if someone in your household is a drug addict--just having a few close supportive listeners to vent to means so much!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Allan, Again, so true. And you bring up a most important point which I thought about and almost added here, the point that none of us are squeaky clean on this issue (or it would be a rare bird, indeed). Yes, Lord have mercy on us.

Ted M. Gossard said...

the walk,

You make an important point that breaks the general rule, I believe. And your thought: "would I want them saying this about me if our roles were switched?" is key. Loving our neighbor as ourselves.

But most of what I see does not fit this category, but instead is destructive both to the one being talked about as well as the people engaged in the gossip.