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.
- 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?