In a recent fellowship gathering, we talked about the topic of gossip and slander and it got me thinking. To my surprise, I learnt that both gossip and slander are no less than murder or theft or any other evil thing that we shun as a society. So it got me thinking, why is it that we tolerate gossip? Why are tabloids almost always the highest selling print material in our nation? I have tried to understand the motive of slanderers, gossips and sharp-tongued people but had failed up until this fellowship I attend.
Months ago, I bought an audio sermon of Joyce Meyer’s titled, “Me and My Big Mouth” and it changed my whole perspective on the power of the tongue. The Bible says itself that there is life and death in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). God spoke this whole earth into existence (Genesis 1), it was only His breath that gave life to Adam and that in itself ought to show how esteemed we humans are in the Lord’s courts.There are several places in the Bible where we are warned of the techniques of the devil but yet again, we do not take heed. Take for example in Romans 1:28-32
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” Romans 1:28-32
In watching our nation today, I can’t help but recognize the face of our people in the verses above. We have not found it useful to use and store God’s knowledge and as in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans I believe that to a certain extent, we have been handed over to depraved minds. My definition of a depraved mind is one that is starved of purpose.A lot of idle mindedness leads to evil acts most of the time. When we surrender ourselves to boredom, the devil attacks and fills our minds with every kind of wickedness. I couldn’t agree more with the verse that says that reprobates invent ways of doing evil. I might be young but I have never seen or heard or read of such wickedness than is in our land this day. When children are taken from their parents and sacrificed for money’s sake. Or the cruel house helps or even parents performing unspeakable, heinous acts to innocent children.
Note that gossips and slanderers are put in the same category as murderers and thieves. They are just the same as God-haters, people who absolutely hate God and show it. The very thought of it puts me on edge. Paul calls them arrogant and boastful. This made real what the Bible says about all sin being the same whether it is a theft, a murder, or adultery. What really drove the point home is verse 32. There is not a living person who doesn’t know that these acts are sinful. We know God’s decree on murder, envy, strife, deceit, greed, insolence, gossip, slander, and all other evils. Even the person that has not accepted Christ as their Savior knows the difference between good and evil. Yet we continue to do evil and even tolerate it.
The perfect example that comes to mind right now is little Kakama’s (RIP) case. He was kidnapped, held at ransom; the ransom was paid, and then he was brutally murdered. Talk around town in the media after the culprits were apprehended was sad to say the least. Even on social networks, people boldly declared their detest for the murderer and even went on to say that the perpetrators must be hanged or killed. The blame game started and shifted all over the place. First the police didn’t do enough, then the maids became untrustworthy altogether, then the parents… it did not end. There was no point at which we united as a nation and took responsibility for our mistake of allowing the issue of child neglect, abuse and sacrifice to get to the level it has. Less than a month later, Kakama’s soul rests with the Lord and we have continued on to the next thing like heartless beasts that do not have offspring of our own. Instead we indulge in useless banter of blame here and suggestions there but never a finger moving in the direction of peace. Everyone somehow knew of the intimate details of the case and therefore had authority over what must be done in the event that the murderer was caught.
Gossip and slander bear judgment. The tongue will always cause us to be tied to our word. That saying that word is bond is one that I take very seriously. What you speak over your life, your household, your friends has great potential of happening. Once we speak something, then it is out there in the world and like a bullet, words do not stop until they hit (and enter) something. So imagine the strife that comes when lies are construed against someone. Well, the Bible tells us that it can happen.
“With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor” Proverbs 11:9.
I don’t think I need to give an example of how rumors and gossip have ruined many peoples’ lives. Families are torn apart, credibility lost, and character shattered with the start of a vicious lie that spreads like a wild fire until the defamed person is utterly broken. Gossip is like a cancer, it spreads fast and kills cells (mindsets, attitudes etc) of the people that receive and believe it and this causes judgment on a particular topic or in most cases a person. As Christians, being a gossip means that you are an enemy to God and everything holy. By being God’s enemy and remaining in the church, you become a poison to the body of Christ i.e. other Christians. I am not saying that once you discover that you are gossip you ought to be kicked out of the Church. You ought to thank God for showing you the areas in your life that you need to surrender to Him so that you may be made whole through Jesus Christ.
What makes gossip and slander especially useful to the devil is that it is hardly recognizable as such. There are however a few ways to find out if you are entertaining gossip.
• When people talk about someone else in a than favorable way
• When a piece of information is treated as a secret
• Gossip stems from negativity, judgmental attitudes, slander, jealousy, and other such emotions
• Gossip often is masqueraded as concern but it is never expressed directly to the person whom it concerns e.g. “I hate to say anything about this to you, but I’m concerned about so and so”
• The gossiper might present their problems to you as a confidante only to use your feedback as endorsements to their spread of information
“A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” Proverbs 16:28
This brings me to two questions that were asked here a few weeks ago. One wondered how to deal with information about a mutual friend’s husband cheating and possibly having a child out of wedlock. See question below.
I’m having tea with two of my very favorite girls and we get talking(don’t we always?) and one of them tells us about someone we know so well….
He is married and they have a baby, basically a newly wed couple starting out. And now, he got another girl pregnant. He asked her to abort and she refused. I’d like to explore this question at all angles… the wife- What do you do when you find out about this?
The husband i wonder…
The other woman …?
Let’s enlighten each other please……
What precedent does it give to the friends of this couple especially the married friends… so many things puzzle me.
I can’t go too much into details that I do not know but there are few things about infidelity that I mentioned in a previous post. It is wrong and is not considered right in the eyes of God or most societies. What happens after that is between the couple. The ideal situation would be for the couple to face each other and be transparent and repentant. Where there is forgiveness, there can be reconciliation. As the onlooker (concerned fried) that has found out this information, if it is indeed true and there is honest concern, then by all means meet the friend that is in the wrong and counsel him in love. Do not be judgmental, or chastise them because that will not help the situation. Explain to them that the path they have chosen might not be a good one and their marriage might not survive unless they are willing to take responsibility for their actions and above all to find forgiveness in Christ.
Some people when confronted often take the defense and that is expected. Especially when the person doing the confronting is not caring in their way of delivering their advice. However, patience, articulation, and preparation can help a good friend or even a stranger lead a lost person back to the right track. None of this can be done if a) the person trying to help is a gossip and b) they do not seek first God’s counsel on how to intervene. Sometimes it just isn’t any of our business but we believe that we must be involved and must do something. If you do not know the parties involved or feel you are outside of the situation then speak with the pastor in confidence and pray for the person you are concerned about. It is a tricky world we live in now because even the Church is filled with rumormongers, gossips, and slanderers. The key is to remain alert and to always watch your own tongue. When you begin to listen to yourself, then you are more aware of what you let into your mind. Do not settle for idle information that will only stir up strife. Do not be an agent of separation of close friends and betrayal of confidences.
For the people that have been hurt by gossip and slander, there is a long road back to trust and recovery but I tell you, it is possible for you to feel great about yourself again and to go on with your life. This is especially important for the person that wrote in with the following question:
I have a question. How do you move on from a broken friendship? I’m the type of person that believes in long-lasting friendships, although I know that there are reason, season and lifetime people. I had a good friend a fw years ago with whom I shared many interests, topmost of which was our love for God and our passion for making a difference. However, we made some bad choices and allowed too many people into our business, and our friendship seemed like it was broken beyond repair. Both she and I have faced abuse, rejection, confusion, fear, and regret, caused by each other and also the external forces that I have mentioned above that laid a wonderful foundation of gossip and malice.
I have since moved on, but occasionally will see or hear something that washes me over with a “What if…?” and a feeling that something incomplete and God-given was immaturely and forcefully ended. Like we allowed the enemy to win. like someone died but the pain is not buried because the person is still very much alive.
How would you advise that I deal with that? What should I do if I run into this person?
When your character has been shot down to a level where even you don’t feel valuable, do not despair. Do not allow yourself to get depressed and do not allow the words spoken affect you. Find solace in the fact that there is One who knows your heart. Believe that you are valuable in His eyes and your works are as important to Him as the next person. Indeed remember that we are commanded to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Constant reminders of that simple commandment will help you to avoid getting yourself involved in the same habit that brought you such negative feelings. Each one of us has had to deal with situations where unfavorable, false things were spoken about us. I believe strongly that how we handle those situations allows for us to grow to another level.
“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
So my advice to the person that has been torn from a friendship because of the strife of gossips and slanderers is this. Allow time for healing for the both of you. And praise God that you were brought together by your interest and love for God because that sets you on a level of love that is not well understood in secular life. If you feel in your heart you have a word for your friend, go on and give it in love. Remember not to let the strife suck you in so that you end up being the gossip who does not realize that they are gossiping.
If your paths have parted, then be reminded that God is God and He will do what He wills to do. His will shall be done on earth as it is in Heaven… There ought to be no regret in your heart because the friend is no longer as close as they once were. In some cases, forgiveness and love are received over time. There is no reason to harbor grudges and also I find that it is important to train yourself back into love with that person. It is never easy because when terrible things happen between friends, they cannot help but reserve a certain part of their memory for doubts. You will know you have moved on when you think about this person as God’s child and someone who is as close to you as your sister. If you are able to fulfill the scripture that asks you to do unto others as you would yourself, then you are in a place to handle your situation well. Only you know what you would do to yourself so go ahead and do it for this friend as well.
If you do bump into her, remember first of all that she is your neighbor and you are required to love her, just as you are required to love the people who separated you. I would give him or her a hug! That is what is required. Forgiveness comes when there is openness of mind. Reconciliation comes with change in attitude and success comes with resolve to continue on the path of righteousness.
I pray that this spoke to someone somewhere that needed to hear it. Please continue sending your questions in and I will do my best to help you with them. By God’s grace, we are able to give good counsel to each other as His children. When we speak freely and with love, we build each other. And remember that sometimes we all need a friend in the Lord in whom to confide. Respect the confidence of your brethren and keep their secrets as you pray and stand with them in that situation.
“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” Proverbs 11:13