Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out
(‘Words’ by Hawk Nelson)
Let me ask you a question. Do your words speak life or death? In Luke 6:45, it says from the heart, the mouth speaks. Often times, we don’t realize the destructive effect of gossip. It starts from negative thoughts in one’s mind into spoken words, whether they are true or not. As believers of Christ, we don’t realize or admit how sinful it is to engage in gossip.
How many times have your relationships been destroyed through gossip? In Proverbs 16:28, it says, “A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.” In fact, there are some relationships that are still broken today because of gossip. It wounds hearts and it is difficult to reconcile or reverse its damaging effects.
Jesus had a number of encounters with “loose” women, who were well known in the community as prostitutes. In the book of John, we come across a woman who needed to be stoned because she was guilty of adultery, a capital crime. People would have gossiped about her for a while, and now finally it is known to the scribes and Pharisees and they challenge Jesus to come to a solution. The gossip that was said about her was in fact true, so she deserves it, right?
Wrong! Jesus looked at the accusers and said “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7). Jesus did not condemn her, but instead He spoke life over her soul. He encouraged her not to sin again (John 8:11). There was never a moment where Jesus “gossiped” or spoke ill about any of these ‘sinners’ with his disciples.
Do you want to be a friend that encourages others or destroys them? Women are emotional beings, and God created us that way, but we need to be careful to guard our mouths because it preserves life (Proverbs 13:3). God hates gossip (Proverbs 6:16-19) yet people of the church, especially women, are constantly guilty of it. I’ve experienced this countless times even in the church, especially by other women. It not only bruised me and destroyed those relationships, but I began to question my self-worth. I felt excluded and worthless. I was battling feelings of worthlessness for so long because people talked about my past mistakes to my new friends or even my family members. I felt condemned, not convicted.
Yet the Lord intervened. He started doing a new thing in my life, and I no longer allowed their words to destroy my calling. It was my mission to reach out to the broken, the unnoticed, and encourage people to the unique calling God had for them. But still, every time I find out someone has gossiped about me, it hurts me deeply. We can’t allow the world, even other believers, to define our worth; instead, we must look to Christ daily.
I know I am not perfect either and that is why everything we say and do need to measure up to Jesus’ standard. Speak life not death over your friends, acquaintances, strangers, ‘sinners’, and even your enemies. Do not let gossip destroy you or the people around you. Speak the truth in love and don’t speak harsh words against others. Paul encouraged Titus “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2).
We don’t know everyone’s story or what’s going on, and that’s why we need to be careful not to judge what we see and be part of gossip. I, myself, have been guilty of making assumptions or being a by-stander when others have spoken badly about someone. In Ephesians 4:29, Paul warns us to “not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
If you’re reading this blog, and feel that your words don’t (always) speak life, it is about time they do! Jesus only spoke life, while the enemy constantly speaks death over our lives.
Your words can stop someone from ending their life, or your words can push someone away from the Lord.
Who do you want to be?
If you have been a victim of gossip, do not worry, Jesus will make all things work out for good in your life (Romans 8:28). Let the pain and hurt be replaced with His love, and allow him to use you to be His ambassador that lifts the broken out of the pit.
Search your heart today, and allow the Lord to create in you a new heart, in which only life and goodness are poured out.
Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You
(‘Words’ by Hawk Nelson)