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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Gossip Test

Did you ever watch the show "Hee Haw"?  When I was a young girl, my parents would watch it.  One of the scenes in each episode showed the actors in a corn field.  They would sing, "We're not ones to go 'round spreading rumors, so you'd better be sure and listen close the first time."  Then the actors would proceed to tell all sorts of tales for their friends to hear.  It was just for laughs on the show, but true gossip is no laughing matter.  Proverbs 16:28  says, "A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends."

Recently I was going through a file that said, "Bible Class Keepers".  I found lots of neat stories, poems, and lesson ideas that came from all sorts of places. I'm not sure where this one came from, but it's great and it makes me think about the words I say and the conversations I have with others.

Many times we talk without thinking....or at least I do.  What we fail to realize is the effect our words can have on others.  We also sometimes wrongly think that if something is "true", that it's okay to say.  Many of the things we say would most likely be better left unsaid.

Years ago an older Christian sister mentioned how prayer requests can sometimes lead to gossip.  For example:  A friend calls and tells you to pray for....lets call her "Ann".  You say that of course you will pray for Ann, but then ask what you need to pray for so that you can be specific in your if God needs you to relay the message to Him (He doesn't!  He knows all about Ann and about her "problem".).  Although it may have started out innocent enough, the conversation may turn to gossip.  And then, you may tell another friend about Ann....relay the "prayer need"....and then on and on it goes.  Pretty soon Ann's got all sorts of problems that may or may not be true.

So, let's strive to rid our lives of gossip.  This "Gossip Test" will help. My own thoughts are in parentheses.


Here's the gossip test - regarding the words that proceed from my lips:
1.  Does it edify? 
(Edify means "to instruct especially so as to encourage intellectual, moral, or spiritual improvement.")
2. Do I have permission to share what I know?
(Ouch!  That may hurt my toes and your toes, too!)
3. Is it necessary to speak about this? 
(Women are known for their "gift of gab"....much of which may be unnecessary.)  4.  Will someone be hurt by it?
(Surely none of us would knowingly hurt another person, yet the words we say may hurt someone deeply.)
5. Will it glorify God?
(Let's just make sure our "gab" is glorifying to God.)

And, here's another part of the test.  Something we should consider when in conversation with others.

When should I suspect a person gossiping?

1.  Is this "talk" about someone who is not there?

2. Does it sound like this person has avoided the Matthew 18:15-20 step of going on on one first? 
 And am I ready to stop them and ask them if they have discussed this first with the person of whom they're speaking?

3. Did they have permission to tell me what they're telling me?

4. Would this person be saying this if that person of whom they are speaking were there?

What to do if someone gossips to you:
Stop him or her BEFORE they give details and ask them,

1. "Do you have permission from ___________________ to tell what you are about to share?
2.  Did you speak directly to ___________ first?  And if so, what did he/she say in response?

At this point, if things were done appropriately and according to the scripture referenced above and the person didn't listen, plus it was determined that there was a real offense/sin involved, you will need to be willing to go with that person and follow through on Jesus' instructions in that passage in Matthew.

If the person hasn't spoken to the person they are talking about, then it's best to stop the conversation and encourage them to talk to the person directly.

A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.
Proverbs 11:13

1 comment:

Wa Wa Waughs said...

Funny, I just read a fictional story about this! In my Thursday morning Bible study we actually send around a prayer request sheet for people to write on during class. At the top, it says, "Please mention family or close friends only" This is because we are a large group and our prayer time at the end is short (we are primarily a Bible study, not a prayer group). But I believe it also cuts down on those kind of "prayer requests."

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