A juicy tidbit, a bit more information than necessary in a prayer request, a desire to be in the know…
These are all trappings for that ugly beast: GOSSIP.
Christians often feel good about their ability to stand against the BIG sins (sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, murder, theft). But sometimes temptation is sneaky. The sins that affect us in our every day lives, the ones that are more subtle, more insidious, ah, these are the ones that trip us up. But more than that, they are the ones we don’t speak out against. It would hit too close to home, perhaps open us up to greater conviction from the Lord. OUCH!
How do we righteously deal with someone gossiping to us?
Oh, that’s such a hard one. For a variety of reasons…
- We find it intimidating to mention it
- We think perhaps we can defend the person being gossiped about
- We don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings
- We keep thinking we are imagining it
- We just simply don’t know what to say
He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with a gossip. Proverbs 20:19
1. Have a PLAN
It always helps to have a Plan of Attack in situations like this. Think about it beforehand and prepare what to say. On those times that we think, “Oh, I’ll come up with something when it happens,” we never end up saying anything because we are taken off guard and the situation slides before we realize it. Another opportunity is lost, and we are pulled deeper into the pit of gossip.
So plan what you should say in advance. If necessary, write it down and memorize it (I did!). Being prepared is the #1 tool that will help us deal with this hidden sin of gossip.
Lift the HAND
We don’t have to get into a whole confrontation situation. All we have to do is stop someone from passing on their gossip. And the easiest way to do that is to lift your hand and say, “Wait!” Whether it is gossip in the guise of a prayer request or straight up backstabbing, we need to stop the words from flowing by simply saying, “Stop.” Very effective and to the point.
Take a STAND
Now, just saying “Wait” is not enough to deal with the situation. We need to take things a step further. The next words out of our mouths should be:
“Why are you telling me this?”
At this point, people begin to bluster. They know that this is gossip, and that gossip is wrong. But we begin to try to deceive or justify ourselves. You may hear…
- You need to understand the prayer request.
- I’m only saying this because I care.
- It’s not really gossip because it is true!
But here is a motto that has helped me in my own life and in mentoring others:
If I am not part of the problem or part of the solution, then I shouldn’t be part of it at all!
If this is your problem and you are coming to me for counsel on how to handle things in a Godly way, then I’m part of the solution with you and you can tell me only what I need to know to give you counsel.
If this is my problem and I need to be reproved, then I am part of the problem. Other than that, there is no Biblical reason for me to be involved at all. And if it is a prayer request, I can still pray without knowing any of the details. God knows them very well and can work in the situation without me having more information than I need to know.
Gossip isn’t only spreading lies about others; it is telling someone else’s story without their permission.
Whether it is good news or bad news, if it isn’t my story to tell, I should keep my mouth shut unless I have spoken permission from the person in the situation.
So, the next time someone leans in with that hungry gossip look, be ready to nip it in the bud. Do not let the enemy get a foothold in your heart and rob you of your joy and righteousness before the Lord by falling into this sin. Listening to gossip is exactly the same as spreading it… listening is participating.