Gossip :: You’ve Got Hate Mail

May 04, 2015

Gossip | gos・sip | gäsәp | noun

Definition: casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.

Synonyms: Tittle-tattle. Rumors. Scandal. Dish the dirt.

Have you ever heard the adage “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”? That is a false statement, as I’m sure you are aware, because words are often more hurtful than physical wounds. While words spoken in anger, out of spite or without forethought are often the result of bitterness, hate and rejection, the one to whom those words are spoken rarely forgets the sting that accompanies the accusation.

As Christian women, we ought to be conscious of the words we speak to those around us — to our family, friends, acquaintances and strangers alike. I have been the recipient of false accusations, hurtful lies and gossip. I am aware of the distress false judgment brings upon the soul and the sting of jealous criticism that lingers for much longer than it really should. I have been on the defensive end of word-wars much like the fencing duals of the eighteenth century. I have looked in horror at ugly replies posted on various social media platforms in response to pictures I’ve posted or status updates intended to be utilized as positive affirmation.

Let’s be honest here with each other: gossip hurts. The maliciousness in which those words are covered cut, bleed and deeply damage the most delicate part of our hearts. The very synonyms of the word “gossip” sound soiled and contaminated.

Scandal? Only un-tasteful, inappropriate actions ever result in scandal.

Rumors? Speculation is rarely accurate or based on whole truths.

Dishing the dirt? What would be appealing about digging up dirt filled with disease, grime and filth and then serving it on a beautiful china platter?

Do you want to be the one to create the scandal, spread rumors or serve the dirt at your next tea party? I would sincerely hope not.

Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. {Matthew 7:1, amplified version}

In Matthew 7 and Luke 6, Jesus admonished his disciples and followers to consider their own faults before pointing out others’ shortcomings. We desire perfection out of all people around us, we want life to be perfect within our own eyes, within our boundaries and expectations. Yet within our own humanity there is no perfection because of the entrance of sin into the world with Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. Still we desire for this beautiful utopia — all while continuing to be imperfect in our own selves and expecting perfection from others.

Jesus also noted in Matthew 7:2 that “with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.” In other words, how/when/why you judge others, place faults upon them, gossip about them or “dish the dirt,” you will be judged by Christ according to those same standards.

Whether knowingly or unknowingly, gossip destroys even the strongest of women; sadly, the spread of lies, untrue rumors and partial truths mixed with enough truth to make the tittle-tattle sound believable goes directly against what the Gospel of Christ is: “For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” {Luke 9:56}.

Judge not [neither pronouncing judgment nor subjecting to censure] and you will not be judged; do not condemn and pronounce guilty, and you will not be condemned and pronounced guilty; acquit and forgive and release (give up resentment, let it drop), and you will be acquitted and forgiven and released. {Luke 6:37}

In a world with instant access to nearly every kind of information about the majority of people you will ever come into contact with, it is insanely easy to fall into the temptation of gossip. It takes just a few seconds to take a screenshot of a non-clique member on social media and iMessage it off to a group of friends and within seconds start a hate-bash that could put even a Hollywood gossip rag to shame. We see another woman with more money/a husband/a boyfriend/a prettier house/a bigger closet/more Instagram followers/[fill in the blank of something you want that she has] and all of a sudden she becomes the target of the daggers we shoot from our eyes.

An acquaintance ungracefully babbles about something she heard from so-and-so that another so-and-so heard from a friend. How much truth can really be packed into a statement handed down from so many people? Who are we to think that we know the details of a situation pertaining to the sanctity of another human being’s life? What are we that we have the right to condemn and cast down God’s judgement upon another soul? You are not privy to the personal goings-on in the privacy of individuals homes, their hearts, their minds.

Neither longevity of faith in God or generations of church-going family members gives us the right to meddle and violate the body of Christ. Sermons, counseling, office sessions, private conversations between church members and pastoral staff are meant to be just that: personal and private, not discussed, dissected and made public for the whole of Christendom to converse about.

The Church is meant to be a safe place; a haven of rest for the weary, a refuge for the burdened. Yet somewhere along the way many people have turned it into a name-bashing, hate-mail-sending party. But oh darlings! If we could just grasp the Love of Jesus and share it as often as the latest gossip is shared. If we could represent Christ in the fullest form of light, purity and grace — what could we accomplish together?

For in essence we are the Church — you and I together embody what the Church represents! Together we make up the shoulders, arms, fingers, eyes, ears, mouth and nose. We are each equally important to the Church’s success and functioning: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many…Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” {I Corinthians 12:12-14, 27}

The Lord sees the hardships of the one who is despise and rejected — for He too was once rejected of men, beaten with no mercy and crucified with all His dignity defiled. Jesus has compassion upon those who are gossiped about, the ones on whom false accusations are laid: “Blessed (happy — with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, apart from your outward condition — and to be envied) are you when people despise (hate) you, and when they exclude and excommunicate you [as disreputable] and revile and denounce you and defame and cast out and spurn your name as evil (wicked) on account of the Son of Man.” {Luke 6:22}

Women of God, daughters of the King, ladies striving to pursue excellence within the Kingdom, will you join me in being intentional about your conversations?

Are you above reproach? Are you without sin that you may cast the first stone upon one whose flaws may be more noticeable and evident than your own? Consider the words of Jesus: “Be merciful (sympathetic, tender, responsive, and compassionate) even as your Father is [all these].” {Luke 6:36}

Consider your words, your social media comments, the allegations you place upon another woman’s character before you speak them.

Look to Jesus, for He alone is perfect — yet in our own imperfections He loves us and desires for us to return that love.