Before I start this blog, I want to share a quick true story. You see, the blog this week was not going to be this topic. In fact, I had a GREAT (at least I thought so) blog almost finished when my computer froze. No big deal, right? Computers freeze all the time. Well, I won’t bore you with the details, but basically my computer crashed, and I lost everything I had written. Later, when I tried to start over, I couldn’t recall many details at all. To be honest, I was a little surprised. I had just written it the day before. I prayed about it, and for whatever reason, I felt as if God just nixed that blog. So, I prayed for insight.
Since I was traveling and had no computer, I had to wait until I got home to get started, which turned out to be a blessing. I received a text from one of my prayer partners. She shared a couple of texts she had received from fellow Christian educators. One in particular caught my eye. Her friend’s prayer was that gossip would be shut down in the workrooms of our schools and replaced with encouragement, love and respect.
This got me to thinking. I had prayed and asked God for insight, and that very night I received this text. It may have just been a coincidence, but in God’s economy I don’t put much stock in coincidences. I am choosing to believe that this is a topic where we all need encouragement. Hence the title of my blog…Grace NOT Gossip.
Every time I hear the word “gossip”, I am transported back to junior high school. Gossip was a way of life then, and I probably could have been crowned the gossip queen. I shudder at how much drama defined my daily life. Whispers of “he said, she said” permeated the hallways, and emotions always ran high. I’m sure it had something to do with hormones; however, most early teenage years are characterized with insecurity, selfishness, establishing social status, and searching for identity. Gossip becomes a way of navigating the turbulent waters of adolescence. Unfortunately, some individuals never grow up.
In his book to the believers in Ephesus, Paul urged the believers to let go of their old, younger selves. We have been created to be holy, not haughty—to be imitators of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not spread rumors about people. He did not engage in idle talk. He did not repeat untruths about others. Jesus did not gossip. Do you think Pauls’ directive is relevant today?
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth but only such a word as is good for edification (building up others) according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
Paul knew—and all of us know as well—how powerful the spoken word can be. In fact, James calls the tongue a fire that can corrupt our entire body.
But no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil and full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely my brothers and sisters, this is not right! James 3:8-10
Conversation is such an integral part of our daily lives. It is easy to become desensitized to and unaware of what we are actually communicating. These two verses provide tremendous guidance for us. If we are to mature in the faith and be imitators of Christ, our speech should be consistently pure, full of grace and edifying to those around us. We all want this; yet, it can be so difficult at times. We’ve all heard the phrase “old habits die hard.” Some may need to break the habit of gossip while others may need to start a new habit of building up others. Some may need to do both! Take steps to live a life of grace, not gossip.
1. Assess. Examine your heart. Much of what comes out of our mouths is an overflow of our heart. In Matthew 15:18, Jesus said, “But the words you speak come from the heart.” The only way to change your heart is to be in God’s Word, seeking Him and growing in the grace that He gives. It is a daily commitment.
2. Pray. Copy Ephesians 4:29 on an index card and post it where you can see it. Pray that your speech will build others up, not tear them down.
3. Seek. Purposefully look for opportunities to bless others with your speech.
4. Disengage. Remove yourself from situations where the conversations are bordering on gossip. If others ask you about your actions, tell them the truth. Tell them you are choosing to put on the new self and live a life that imitates Jesus the very best you can.
5. Reflect. Journal your thoughts about your speech and how you were able to be a blessing to others.
Each day that we purposefully extend grace to others is a day we bring honor and glory to God and allow others to see a glimpse of who Jesus is. Pledge to make this a year where your speech is laced with grace, not gossip.