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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Whisperer, Gossip, Blabbermouth....Not So Pretty!

Please Welcome Estermay Bentley-Goossen back to the Cafe!!

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of a life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men [and women], who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers [and sisters], this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?
- James 3:6-11 (NIV)

For a long as I can remember I have avoided deep relationships with other women. Women can be the cruelest of creatures. Really I think it dates back to Genesis Chapter 3. There is something in us that broke that day. Something we continually have to struggle against. It seems to be in the very core of our being to pit one another against each other. And what is so very sad is that we see it in churches as readily as the secular workplace.

Women have always been the most deadly critics of other women. They know how to wound with precision. They know how to judge. They know how to look another woman over from head to toe, inside and out, and then make a diagnosis of all the ills they have found. Why do we do that? Is it so that we don’t have to look at ourselves? Is it because we are jealous creatures? Is it because we have not learned how to love one another?

Proverbs 18:8 (NIV) says that

The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.”

In essence this means that it’s just part of our sinful nature to have an appetite for gossip. In a lot of ways gossip can be the single most destructive force in the Body of Christ. It is the most uncomplicated way Satan can use people already in the church to destroy the Church.

Why is it that women so often spearhead this type of slander? Men don’t seem to have the same capacity for gossip as women. Without even meaning to sometimes it seems we start talking innocently enough, and then we notice a look or a raised eyebrow and we find ourselves discussing someone that we simply shouldn’t be. So often it is done with a cloak of concern. “Did you hear about so-and-so, isn’t it a shame.” And the sad thing is that we often fool ourselves into believing that we are simply talking out of concern, not gossip! But, gossip masquerading as “concern” can and does turn into a far more decisive tool. . . a tool that Satan very much enjoys to see used in God’s Church.

We are all guilty to some degree. I am ashamed to admit I like to know what is going on. I tend to cloak my concern under the “so I can pray for it” attitude instead of leaving well enough alone! But,

“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a [wo]man who talks too much.”

~ Proverbs 20:19 NIV

I like how the Message depicts it:

“Gossips can't keep secrets, so never confide in blabbermouths.”

Wow! The scorn in that illustration: “blabbermouths!” The images that come to mind are so not pretty. Are you picturing anyone in particular?

. . . Are you picturing yourself?

One of the hardest things to do as women is to not to listen to gossip. Really. When someone starts talking about someone else we really need to simply shut our ears and tell that person to change the subject. But how hard is that?! In doing so, we are opening ourselves up to ridicule from the gossiper. After all, we already know that person is more than willing to discuss other people with whomever!

People want desperately for others to think the same way they do…to have the same opinions about people and situations. And as the relational creatures we are, it is so easy to simply listen, telling ourselves that we won’t pass along the information, therefore what harm is it doing? But like it or not we are letting the dirt into our minds and hearts and allowing someone else’s opinions to shape what we are thinking. As women we are susceptible to this sin. As Christians, we must guard our hearts in this matter.

One of the areas I’ve never really been sure how to handle is gossip among a group of unbelievers. With a group of Christian women, they at least know this is something they should not be doing and you have the inerrancy of Scripture as a foundation.
But, non-Christians are not guided by the same principles. Gossip in the secular world is common and it’s acceptable. Is it enough in these situations to lead by example, not participating, not gossiping and changing the subject quickly? Or should we be bolder?

And what do you do if you sense that unbelievers are among a group of believers and that their chit-chat is more malicious than it appears? Do you simply remove yourself or do you do more? (You answer.)

Here’s a call to all women hurt by and affected by gossip:

Find your joy in Christ, not other women.

Female companionship is certainly a blessing. Imagine your life without it for an instant. (Okay, time’s up.)

We’d go loopy!

But we will fail one another. Believe me. We will say hurtful things. We will be thoughtless and inconsiderate and selfish and tactless and unkind. We will make judgments; and we will be neglectful. We will not love and cherish one another as we should.

But we are – and will always be -- loved and cherished nevertheless. By Another. Jesus, our Savior!

I’ve been in church my entire life. I’ve served in some capacity of ministry for over 40 years.
I grew up a preacher’s kid. Today, I am the preacher’s wife. I can say with absolute certainly -- and alongside many others I am sure – that Christians will be the people who will most let you down in this world.

As Christians, we expect more from each other. We expect better. We should – however -- know better.

It is Christ alone that we must look to for affirmation. Only HE can fulfill us.

Jesus: I confess that -- by my very nature -- I have been gripped by gossip. I pray that Your Spirit would convict me of this and teach me when to keep my mouth quiet. I pray that Your Spirit would nudge me when I need to stop listening to chit-chat. And help me to understand -- in a way more overpowering than ever before – that only YOUR companionship can truly satisfy the deepest needs of my heart.


Esthermay Bentley-Goossen

The Heart of a Pastor’s Wife

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Blogger Denise said...

Let me add a huge amen to this dear, bless you.

April 18, 2009 at 1:40 AM  
Blogger LauraLee Shaw said...

Love your admonishment here. I'm definitely one of the guilty here. Praising God for continued sanctification and hoping we can all make a difference in this world by speaking words of love and encouragement to others.

"Here’s a call to all women hurt by and affected by gossip: Find your joy in Christ, not other women."

Amen, sister.

April 18, 2009 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger Angela Fehr said...

I know how susceptible I am to participating in gossip and there are certain women I try to avoid simply because I know how easily we fall into gossip when we are together.
My mom once commented about a friend that she had never heard her say anything negative - about anyone. I think that is sometimes the most gracious way to shut down a gossip session. Especially if it involves unbelievers.

April 18, 2009 at 3:13 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...

Find your joy in Christ!

Love that phrase and how very true. In Him I can find true joy, the joy that I know is unconditional and a joy that isn't dependent on my stage in life or station in life.

Like most women, I struggle with wanting to stay connected and 'in the know.' I also know that this can and does turn to gossip and I'm praying that I will turn away from this and look to Him.

Thanks for a great post.

April 18, 2009 at 7:57 PM  
Blogger Laurie Ann said...

A kindred spirit! The weight of our words truly matters. Excellent devotion, Esthermay!

April 20, 2009 at 4:27 PM  

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