“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Today's verse of the day tells us exactly what we're supposed to do when things go wrong. Be kind and compassionate to one another. That's funny... because usually, when things go wrong, and someone does something they shouldn't, or makes a bad choice, we usually do not do those things. For some reason, the church is not kind or compassionate. They decide to send the offender packing, with barely a second glance, and then the talk begins. Let me tell you... living in a small town, sometimes there is nothing better to do than talk, and boy, do people talk.
Disney once did a movie of the week of a man who didn't talk from the time he was a young child, and people simply assumed he was mute. As a result, they never took care about what they said around this man. The whole movie was fun and rather humorous as people would tell him secrets, simply because they thought he would never be able to share them. Of course, at the end, it was revealed that this man could, in fact, speak, and I remember the old bitties gasping and passing out in horror, because they knew what this man had locked inside his head.
It's amazing how ugly a monster gossip is. Look, Romans even compares gossips to murderers!
"They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips" Romans 1:29
"Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to." 1 Timothy 5:13
Do you think, as Jesus lived his day to day and walked around with his dear friends, that he leaned over to them and said "hey, did you hear about Bill?" I think not. I think instead, Jesus would have put a stop to anyone else trying to share gossip with him. And I think if there was cause for concern, Jesus would have gone to that person directly, asked what was going on, and spend time praying with him.
I think one of the problems with gossip is that it is ingrained in us right from the very beginning. There is no better place to learn the art of gossip and "pass it on" than the classroom at school. Yet sadly, Sunday School class has become just as good at "pass it on". It seems that when a few people get together, and there's not much to discuss or talk about, they decide to just talk about other people instead. I'll tell you what, when we were meeting with our small group every week, we knew afterwards, the weeks we spent time gossiping, because we felt yucky. Truly, when our group would leave, we would feel like we'd spent time doing something we shouldn't have, despite the Bible study and prayer time. Our whole group noticed it, and together, we all agreed that we would not gossip at group anymore, and just like that we stopped, and our group grew closer and deeper almost immediately. Because we weren't talking about other people, we were more focused on each other and ourselves, and our relationships with God. It made such a huge difference! And then, once we'd applied the gossip ban to our group, it was easier to apply the gossip ban elsewhere in our lives. I like to think that if the people from our group took nothing else away from our time together, we all learned how to be better at kindness and compassion, and the art of not gossiping.
Gossip is a tool of the devil, plain and simple. When we choose to talk about someone else in an unkind and unloving way, we are not behaving as a Christian and lover of Christ ought to. We're behaving exactly as the devil wants us to, spreading unlove and malicious rumors and hurting those we know- or simply know of.
"A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends." Proverbs 16:28
I don't want to gossip. And I pray that the Holy Spirit will keep that malicious gossip far away from me, and from those I love. May He fill our churches with love and kindness and compassion to bursting, because God knows we need that today.