Smoke But No Fire

SmkFireA person is never more like Satan then when they lie (Which includes gossip and slander). Few things hurt people than what others say about them that are embellishments, half truths, or outright lies (Gossip). You know because it has happened to you hasn’t it?

From Bobby Gilstrap: “A gossip is a person who creates the smoke in which other people assume there’s a fire.” Just because someone says something does not make it true, and… just because something is true does not mean you have to or need to repeat it. So keep in mind, if someone will talk to you about someone else, they WILL talk to someone else about you! And don’t forget that everyone you tell something to has a best friend who they talk to who also has a best friend they talk to… and on and on…

To know what is in a person’s heart (Including our own), listen to what is said. It will either build up or tear down, be good or evil. After making that determination you will have discerned what is in the heart (Lk 6:45). Only fools engage in gossip and slander. Yet know as a Christian, you will be subjected to words set on the fires of hell (2 Cor 6:8; 1 Pet 4:4, Ja 3:6).

I agree with Mr. Gilstrap, “A gossip is a person who creates the smoke in which other people assume there’s a fire.” So the best way to deal with a gossip is… 1) Turn the other cheek, 2) Live a holy life, 3) Pray for those who persecute you {Those who slander you and gossip about you}, 4) Do good to those who put a knife in your back. Why? Because of who you are… a child of God. “Whatever happens, conduct YOURSELF in a manner that glorifies God” (Philippians 1:27).  Here are a few more passages to consider…

Ro 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Lev 19:16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.

Pr 11:13 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.

Pr 20:19 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.

Did You Hear? Gossip And Christianity

As I wrote earlier, I read several blogs each week.  This week I read this one and found it worthy of posting here.  It is by Ray Ortlund and can be found HERE.

Q:  What are the duties required in the ninth commandment… “Thou shall not bear false witness.”

A:  The duties required in the ninth commandment are the preserving and promoting of truth between man and man and the good name of our neighbor, . . . loving, desiring and rejoicing in their good name; . . . a ready receiving of a good report and unwillingness to admit of an evil report concerning them.

The Bible itself is so clear against gossip, probably because we are so inclined toward gossip:

O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who does not take up a reproach against his friend.  Psalm 15:1, 3

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: . . . one who sows discord among brothers.  Proverbs 6:16, 19

Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people.  Leviticus 19:16, AV

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.  James 4:11

Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret.  Proverbs 25:9

God gave them up to a debased mind . . . . They are gossips.  Romans 1:28-29

There are many biblical passages confronting gossip.  The witness of God against this sin is overwhelming.

What is gossip?  It is not necessarily false information.  Slander is false.  Gossip might include true information, and maybe that’s why gossip doesn’t always feel sinful.  What makes it sin is, first and foremost, that God says it’s sin.  But gossip spreads what can include accurate information to diminish another person.  That is not how people behave when they are living in the power of the grace of God.

Gossip is our dark moral fervor eagerly seeking gratification.  Gossip makes us feel important and needed as we declare our judgments.  It makes us feel included to know the inside scoop.  It makes us feel powerful to cut someone else down to size, especially someone we are jealous of.  It makes us feel righteous, even responsible, to pronounce someone else guilty.  Gossip can feel good in multiple ways.  But it is of the flesh, not of the Spirit.

Adultery too is a serious sin, and one likely to be disciplined in a church.  But I have never seen a church split over the sin of adultery.  Gossip is a sin rarely disciplined but often more socially destructive than the sensational sins.

Gossip leaves a wide trail of devastation wherever and however it goes – word of mouth, email, blogging, YouTube.  It erodes trust and destroys morale.  It creates a social environment of suspicion where everyone must wonder what is being said behind their backs and whether appearances of friendship are sincere.  It ruins hard-won reputations with cowardly but effective weapons of misrepresentation.  It manipulates people into taking sides when no such action is necessary or beneficial.  It unleashes the dark powers of psychological transference, doing violence to the gossiper, to the one receiving the gossip and to the person being spoken against.  It makes the Body of Christ look like the Body of Antichrist – destroyers rather than healers.  It exhausts the energies we would otherwise devote to positive witness.  It robs our Lord of the Church he deserves.  It exposes the hostility in our hearts and discredits the gospel in the eyes of the world.  Then we wonder why we don’t see more conversions, why “the ground is so hard.”

What should we do when a conversation starts slipping into gossip?  We should immediately challenge the sin: “Hey friend, sorry to interrupt, but this is gossip.  So here’s the deal.  This conversation is now on hold until you go get _____________, and then you can start over and say whatever you feel you must say right to his face.  I am willing to be a witness to that conversation, but I will not participate in gossip.  What do you choose to do?”  Amy Carmichael established this rule at her mission station: “Never about, always to.”

“Let all things be done for building up” (1 Corinthians 14:26).  Therefore, let’s always ask ourselves, “These words about to rise up out of my mouth or go out through my keyboard – do they build up?  Am I being constructive?  If the person I feel like discussing were here with me right now, how would his presence change what I feel like saying?”

“Do not be deceived: . . . revilers will not inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Church Wolves (Same Topic, Different Post)

It is interesting to me what Paul wrote and was concerned about in Acts 20:28-33…

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.  29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Not everyone who is a member of the church is a sheep nor are they wheat.  Some are wolves and/or tares.  Which means they are not genuine believers, but rather individuals who are used by the Adversary (Satan) to attempt to disrupt God’s people’s fellowship.  In fact, there are wolves… fierce wolves… in EVERY congregation/church.  The way to identify these individuals is actually very easy… what is the effect of their activity in the church?

It is written in 1 Corinthians 14:33, “God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”

Ask this question… does a person bring healing, peace, and unity in a congregation by what they say and do?  If the answer is yes, then they are people who are “Sons of God.”  Along with that, their actions will be consistent with Scripture and honoring unto God.  If they are always causing disharmony, strife, and or division… then they are not of God.  If their actions are inconsistent with the mandates of Scripture… they are not of God.  It is clear in Scripture how those who stir things up in church are to be treated.  Consider Titus 3:10

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him…

That sounds harsh, but remember that God is serious about protecting His bride… the Church.  In fact, God is so serious about it that He put this passage in Proverbs 6:16, 19…

There are six things that the Lord hatesseven that are an abomination to Him:…  19 A false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Notice it ISN’T written that God hates the discord someone causes… but the person who causes the discord.  If God has that view of people who divide human families… how much more is it true of those who cause division among brothers and sisters in Christ… in HIS family?!

Sad thing is… those who cause dissension in the church are so blind they actually believe they are doing what they should!  I know, I’ve observed them first hand at two churches I’ve served.

The Antidote is simple.  So simple in fact that I’m going to end this post with Scripture.  Read it and note the emphasis placed within the text.  It is found in Ephesians 4:27, 29-32…

Give no opportunity to the devil. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Be Careful What You Say, It Could Ricochet!

Watch this video of a bullet shot ricocheting and hitting the shooter in the head (Don’t worry… he’s okay… no blood or gore).  Watch for the bullet hitting the dirt in front of him at about :19 into the video.

“What goes around comes around,” or as it is put in Scripture, “A man will reap what he sows.  If he sows to the wind, he will reap the whirlwind.”

I’ve tried as best I could to teach my children to be careful of what they say… because it can… and probably will… come back on you!  I know that from experience.  I’ve told them, “If you take a shot at someone you’d better duck because it could ricochet and hit you in the head” (Thus the video).  It’s better to just “FIMO” (Forget It, Move On).

I’ve since had the opportunity to point out to my kids things people said or did to them or someone close that ended up biting the person on the rear end.  In those teachable moments I hope they got it… I hope they learned.  That way maybe they’ve learned something without having to get knocked in the head like I have…

I Wish I Hadn’t (Fill In The Blank)…

   You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mt 12:34-37)

Who hasn’t said or thought at one time… “Why did I say that?!”  or “I wish I hadn’t done that!” or “I wish I had that to do over again.”

tame-tongue95% of what we say and do is done without consciously thinking about it… it just flows out of us.  When we talk, rarely do we think hard about our choice of words… sentence construction… grammar and syntax.  Not only that, most of what we do is also “on the fly” with at best a general plan, thought, or idea about what will transpire.  Our words and actions come from what I’m going to call spillover.

Spillover is what is in us…  What is in our heart.  The Scripture above reveals that we will be judged on our spillover because that is what is in our heart… it is who we really are.  (Pause)  I don’t know about you, but that is a tad bit scarey for me…

God knows that what spills over from the heart is who we are and the basis for how we will be judged by God.  For that reason He caused to be written in His Word the following…

   Psalm 119:11 I have stored up Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

   2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Life is spontaneous… it just flows… it happens with little conscious thought in regards to words and actions.  In fact, we don’t have the ability in ourselves to reign in the evil/sin impulses within us.  And that is the reason for the admonition of the above passages to immerse ourselves in Scripture!

The mind of Christ and being able to discern God’s will happens as a direct result of immersing ourselves in God’s Word so as to discern the will of God as we live each day.

When I examine the “spillover” of my life I realize how much I need God to control me so that my spillover glorifies Him rather than causing others to stumble.

What does your spillover say about you and the condition of your heart?

Why Do We Listen To Gossip?

gossip

  Notice the title includes “we.”  This post is as much an examination of myself as anything else.

  Why do we listen to (And tend to believe) gossip… rumors… and things like that?  Why do we assume (It’s dangerous to “assume!”) that what we hear is always reliable and true?  Consider the Scripture…

   Proverbs 18:18 & 26:22 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.

We like to listen to gossip (AKA rumors, AKA slander) because it is “sweet” to us.  We like thinking… even if only for a moment… that someone else is having some kind of trouble and we’re not.  We like it when we get affirmation, even if it is untrue, that someone else is not as good as we are.  Those are some of the reasons we like to hear gossip.

   Truth: If someone will gossip to you about someone else, they will gossip to someone else about you!

The funny thing about gossip and rumors is that once you hear it, you tend to believe what you’re told and it is difficult to get that impression out of your head… thus “they go down into the inner parts of the body.”  First impressions are lasting impressions.

Now consider…

   Proverbs 11:13 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.

   Proverbs 20:19 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.

  Proverbs 18:17 The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.

What is sad is that when people hear a rumor or some kind of gossip, rarely do they give the person it is about a chance for rebuttal or an opportunity to set the record straight.  That might take their joy away if they learned the real truth!

   Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

A Little Bird Told Me…

little-bird-windowDo you remember your parents finding out about something you did that you were sure they’d never know?  Then they’d say, “A little bird told me!”

Well… that is in the Bible!  It’s found in Ecclesiastes 10:20 where it is written, “Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king, nor in your bedroom curse the rich, for a bird of the air will carry your voice, or some winged creature tell the matter.”

Sooner or later… the truth comes out.  Eventually, people who lie get caught.  People who embellish… add to the story… and give it their own spin with commentary… all one day are found out and exposed.

If you tell your best friend, remember they have other friends who have other friends who have other friends… and they all tell one another, “Don’t tell anyone!”  Aside: If people will gossip to you about someone else, they will gossip to someone else about you!

You would be surprised who tells others about who said what.  That’s why I’ve always told my kids, “If you don’t want anyone to know, then either don’t do it to begin with or don’t be bothered when everyone knows!”  I’ve also tried to teach them that if they don’t want everyone knowing something, do NOT put it in an email… a text message… or on Facebook.

   Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Still, that little bird stays pretty busy flying around doesn’t he?

Sarah Palin And Church Gossip

Sarah Palin is right in what she said about anonymous comments… “It’s mean-spirited, it’s immature, it’s unprofessional, and those guys are jerks.”  It was while reading Ray Pritchard’s blog about this as related to church that I reflected some…

Since I’m a pastor and think often about church, here are my 2 cents worth.  As everyone else who has been in the ministry any length of time can say, I’ve been the object of anonymous gossip… lies… rumors… half truths… and deceit at church.

Let me say quickly… I LOVE THE CHURCH!  I love church people!  I’ve devoted my life to serving, helping, encouraging, and supporting the Bride of Christ.  Nothing I write in this blog has caused me today to be even close to walking away from her or turning my back on my call!  Sometimes only those who love us the most know us the best and are able to speak the truth in love about us.  That is my point in this post…

church-lady  The #1 source of problems in church is gossip, and most of it is from anonymous sources.  People hear something… twist and turn it to their liking… and then tell others.  Then that person tells another… whether or not what they’ve heard is true... and then another… and another… and before long the church is in chaos.  Satan has a foothold… and the health of the congregation is in deep trouble… Christians, ministers, and ministries are wounded.

  TRUTHS: If you didn’t SEE it yourself, you don’t know!  Just because something is true doesn’t mean it should be told.  If someone will gossip to you about someone else, they will gossip to someone else about you!

  You have no idea how many times church members and deacons say: “I’ve had a number of phone calls…”   I’m hearing rumblings…” “Quite a few people have said…” “There are people who are unhappy…” “I don’t know if this is true, BUT…”  “You need to be praying about…” (Sometimes this is just a form of Christian Gossip!) “From what I hear it doesn’t look good…” “I can’t tell you who told me, but…”  {That one is especially evil}  All those quotes, and similar ones, are improper… divisive… and used by Satan to sow seeds of discord and disharmony within the church.  From my experience and observation some church staff are as guilty as anyone else.

If a person won’t put their name to what they’ve said, then they and their comment should be ignored.

I admire those who are willing to take a black eye in order to protect the reputation of others (Pr 10:12Pr 11:13, Pr 17:9).  I saw people and a committee do that in the church I served in Oxford, AL regarding a staff member I served with.  Yet there is a difference between protecting someone’s reputation and passing along gossip.  I’ve always told people where I served, if you know something about me, I don’t care who you tell as long as you tell the whole story and what you KNOW to be true.

In other words, rumors and hearsay does not count as something a person KNOWS!

God commands His people to be different from the world.  God commands His people to speak the truth in love.  God commands that His people are to be reconcilers.  God commands that His people are to work things out privately.  God commands that His people are to say only what is good for building people up. God commands that His people are to love one anotherforgive one another… and be of one mind.

Can that last paragraph be true of an entire church?  Yes.  Can that last paragraph be true of us… me and you?  Yes!  What it takes is simply making a conscious choice to honor God and conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ… no matter what anyone else does!

Let’s try it… just you and me… and see what God does!