Oh, Be Careful, Little Ears…

Do you remember the Sunday School song, “Oh, be careful, little ears, what you hear?”  Great.  Sing it a few times, and remind yourself not to listen to gossip, backbiting, and slander, for a whole week.  It’s so easy to zero in on the bad stuff.  

Scripture says…

  • A perverse man sows strife, And a whisperer separates the best of friends. (Proverbs 16:28, NKJV).
  • He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends. (Proverbs 17:9, NKJV).
  • And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. (1 Timothy 5:13, NKJV).
  • Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. (1 Timothy 5:19, NKJV).

And I have personally witnessed all of this, from Christians, in the last couple of weeks.  The people of God are to be a body.  We need to cover for each other (Prov 10:12).  Not in illegal or abusive situations, but in those countless discretionary situations and private matters that truly are nobody’s business but God’s.  I grew up with a definition of gossip:  

Gossip is sharing a problem with someone who is not part of the problem and not part of the solution.  

I like that definition, but it’s not my focus here.  I’m less interested in the sins of speaking right now than the sins of hearing.  (And don’t kid yourself about being part of the solution!)

We need to guard our hearts and that means guarding our ears.  Change the subject. Walk away. Send the gossiper off to repent and pray.  Just don’t triangulate somebody else’s conflict–don’t let yourself get sucked in. God isn’t giving you the grace to solve their problems–you’re on your own.  Quit feeding that nasty character on the back of your soul’s bus who thrives on hearing other people’s dirt.  Don’t even throw it a bone.  Not even one word. How can your soul be a suitable dwelling place for Jesus when you make it an echo-chamber for someone else’s spiritual flatulence?   That is the Word of the Lord to you and me today.  Not pretty, huh.  

Go forth tuned toward grace and refuse to listen to even one syllable that will suck the grace out of you.

Was that preachy?

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3 thoughts on “Oh, Be Careful, Little Ears…

  1. Preach on, Dr. G!!!

    I never have understood why we treat our own body (The Body of Jesus) with so much contempt and criticism, let alone stoop so low to gossip and bite one another so viciously……God help us!!! Down right depressing.

  2. Okay, here’s an ancillary story on the telling end of things:

    Soooo…this summer, I taught a class at my home church about St. Augustine’s Confessions. It’s a really beautiful book from the Christian tradition about how Augustine of Hippo goes from a troublesome youth to hedonist intellectual to faithful christian. The class focused on Augustine’s intellectual and spiritual conversions, as well as the interplay between the intellectual and the spiritual in his story.

    Sounds like me, right? 🙂

    A couple stopped showing up about half-way through. I had asked a fair bit of reading from a difficult text, so I wasn’t surprised that a few folks dropped off as time went on. However, a good friend of mine on the church staff recently told me that this particular couple had complained to our pastoral staff about…whatever. Something in the class offended them. They disagreed w/…something.

    The reason I keep equivocating is because they never came to me with their issue! I still have no idea what the problem was. Not only are they depriving me of the opportunity to perhaps be corrected in my thinking by someone older and wiser, but also themselves of the chance to rethink (or reaffirm) their beliefs in conversation with others. Instead, they complained up the “chain of command” and avoided me.

    But here is the really tragic part: because I’ve grown up in the Church and worked there, both as a volunteer and paid staff, I was not at all surprised that this happened. I wasn’t really upset by it, beyond the missed opportunity for conversation and mutual understanding. I’ve just come to expect church goers, in the name of “niceness” to behave this way.

    It’s not so much that I’m angry with these people. I’m mostly disappointed in myself because of my reaction to their relational misstep. I don’t like that I’ve come to expect that kind of behavior. It means I’ve given up a little. It means I lack some modicum of hope.

    Godspeed.

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