What is gossip? Is it spreading lies about someone? Am I gossiping if what I'm saying about someone else is true? Sometimes I'm excited to mention something good about someone who isn't part of the conversation. Is that OK? Talking about other people can feel really good, but does it feel good because I'm putting down someone else to build myself up? The thoughts we allow into our mind will show up when we speak. If we think good thoughts, goodness will be present in our words. If we allow judgment and gossip to fill our heads, why are we surprised that they influence our speech?
We often think of friendship as unbounding loyalty and zero animosity, but that unrealistic ideal makes the fall harder when we discover that our friends aren't perfect. Gossip can stir up doubts within us. Doubts about our friendships and ourselves; and we may be left feeling betrayed and all alone. Yet, the great thing about who we are and what we believe is that we're never alone! I know it hurts when friends gossip about us; but God loves us for who we are, and God is always there for us.
In Romans I Paul lists gossip, along with other things, as an indicator of a life without the Spirit. That's serious business. When it comes to gossip, two things are important to consider. One is the way we accept gossip, especially when it is untrue. If we can, we gently and lovingly correct it. If we can't, we make clear where we stand and move on. The second is to ensure that we never initiate or pass on gossip. Some people never recover from what is said about them. Galatians 5:22 reminds us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace - no room for gossip here.
Ask your child...
How far will you go to be cool? Spreading rumors about someone is a sign of being a bully. Do your words build up or tear down others?
Challenge your child...
Before saying anything about anyone, ask yourself three questions:
- Is what I am saying honest and true?
- Is what I am saying worthwhile?
- Will my words build up or tear down others?
Lord, help me to use my words in ways that are pleasing to you, not as weapons of destruction but as seeds of encouragement and peace in hearts of all who hear them. Amen.