Thursday, March 27, 2014

Runaway Tongues - Lenten Journey Day 19 Devotional - March 26, 2014

“And at the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.” - 1 Timothy 5:13
So there’s a serious virus going around and it’s spreading like wildfire.  It’s highly contagious, devastatingly irresistible, but extremely detrimental to all those that come in contact with it.  Today alone, I encountered it at the gym, the grocery store, a restaurant…. Everywhere I went, there it was!  No vaccines available, unfortunately, but the only way to safeguard yourself from it is by doing one little thing….protecting your mouth. 

It’s called the Human Gossip Virus (HGV).

Yes, I just made that term up.  Don’t steal it…. patent pending.   

Yes, we are still on “words”.   After a few interactions today I felt it timely to address this area.

Gossip is one of those “everybody else” problems.  We wag our finger at others, but never think it’s us.

HGV is sneaky like that; most infected are completely unaware.  Fortunately, we have the Word of God to help keep us healthy.

So we’re going to run through a little diagnostic on our mouths. Here are some symptoms....

Words intentionally spoken to damage….
The scripture calls this slander is some places and backbiting in others.  A little negative information may “slip” out as payback to another or because you feel a certain way about an individual.  If others knew what you knew, they’d understand and feel the same way, right?  Well, the bible is very clear.  “Brothers, do not slander one another” (James 4:11).  It also instructs us to “rid [ourselves] of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8).

What makes these types of conversations so heartbreaking is it’s not a fair fight.  You are beating up another individual who isn’t even present to defend what you’re saying.  It’s verbal bullying and God take’s it very seriously.  “Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy” (Psalm 101:5).

Words that betray another’s trust….
If gossip had a baseball team, this one would probably be the MVP.  Why?  Because it comes in innocent forms; even in the form of “prayer request”.
Please pray for her, she’s going through problems with her husband”.  What usually follows is a conversation about a person who is nowhere present.  Did she ask you to disclose that to others?  When we observe, or are entrusted information about another person’s life, that is a place of trust and vulnerability.  They opened up and let YOU peak in (you, not other people).  When you pass that information around, you are ripping their emotional clothes away without warning.  Sharing isn’t always caring and Proverbs 20:19 tells us that “a gossip betrays a confidence.”

Words that spread half-truths or rumors….
There are times when information is spread and never verified.  This happens in Hollywood all the time; paparazzi take a picture of a couple at a coffee shop looking frustrated, next thing you know there is a front page story on their pending divorce.  We do this in our personal lives as well.  We like to take pieces of information and draw conclusions.  “Didn’t they seem a little too comfortable over there in the corner at the party?”  Well, in the process of playing detective, we give life to lies.  Stop putting headlines on other’s lives.  That’s not our place.

“He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin” - Proverbs 13:3
Words that are said in jest, but not really….
Mockery.  Somehow we think if we laugh at the end of what we’re saying it becomes more permissible.
“Maybe if her husband turned off those sports and blah blah blahhahaha
 “You know how she is with that spending of hers. Hahaha!”

Jokes over.  When your quips are at the expense of another, it’s mockery and just another passive way to spread gossip. 
Proverbs 22:10 says, “Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.” 
So should I just walk around with a mask over my mouth like Hannibal Lecter? For some, it may be THAT challenging, but that is not the way.  Instead of muting ourselves, we should strive for a more excellent way
Words that bring life….
There is a cure
First, you must pray.  A couple of years ago I read a book about a woman who was trying to escape the bondage of gossip.  Her friends would still try to come and bring her juicy information about others, which only made it worse.
I found her solution fabulous.  One day a girlfriend called her and told her a acquaintance had said disparaging things about her.  She responded, “No, I did not know she said that, but since you brought her up God must want us to stop right now and pray for her.”  After a while, her friends stopped sharing gossip with her and she was able to get the victory over gossip.
Then you must commit to intentionally guarding what you say and focusing on conversations focused on “glory” and not stories.
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.” - Ephesians 4:29
God wants us healthy, mind, body, spirit, and MOUTH.  Toxic words were never meant to pour out of holy vessels, and that’s exactly what you are.  You are the dwelling place of God.  Let’s keep our conversations fit for the King.
For those needing a little more help in this area, check out “Stop the Runaway Conversation: Take Control Over Gossip and Criticism” by Dr. Michael D. Sedler.

Let’s pray:  Lord God, the Most Holy One.  How righteous and pure are You.  Your Words only reflect truth and I desire to be a reflection of You.  May the words I speak respect others and bring life.  I put an end to gossip in my life right now.  Thank you for the conviction you have placed in my heart to extinguish these urges when I see them in myself or others.  Control my tongue and let it be used to bring glory to your name.  In Jesus powerful name I pray.  Amen.  

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