by Caitlin Meadows
Gossip. It is to modern Christianity what speeding is to modern society. An infraction at worst. Not even a misdemeanor. We know we’re not supposed to do it and will face consequences if caught, but we comfort ourselves with the reality that everyone does it. It’s convenient. And it’s not as bad as other sins like adultery or theft. Right…?
Deep down in our hearts, we know our logic is flawed.
Scripture is clear on the subject. Don’t do it. But, we do.
From a young age, at least in my life, gossip became a habit.
For those of us who love Christ and desire to follow Him in every aspect of our lives, “infractions” like gossip should make us entirely uncomfortable. We should squirm when we hear it and become convicted when we do it. Because we are Christ’s representatives here on Earth. We’ve been re-created by Him to lead those who don’t know Him to encounter Him. Gossip gets in the way of that.
Authentic Jesus-followers don’t settle by allowing any infraction to remain commonplace in their lives. They recognize the call on their lives to be reflections of their King to their circles of influence. So, they buckle down in prayer and, empowered by the Holy Spirit, they develop new, better habits to rid their lives of gossip. They commit to making “Christian gossip” what it should be – an oxymoron.
Here are 5 habits of Jesus-followers who make the term “Christian gossip” an oxymoron:
1. Jesus-followers recognize gossip’s disguises.
In Christian Gossip: 5 Common Disguises of What Should be an Oxymoron, I called attention to our sin nature’s attempts to justify our sin of gossip by calling it something more palatable. We disguise gossip as “venting”, “praise”, “concern”, “clarification”, or “defense” in an attempt to make ourselves feel better about speaking poorly of others. These disguises, of course, don’t fool God and don’t further His Kingdom. By recognizing these gossip disguises, Christians can be on guard, preventing these disguises from having a place in our conversations.
2. Jesus-followers remember their need for the gospel every day.
Romans 3:23-24 makes our need for the good news of Jesus Christ abundantly clear:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
All of us are sinners so all of us need Christ so that we may turn away from our lives enslaved to sin and live as His new creations, holy as He is. While it is harmful to our sanctification to cling to the shame and guilt of our previous sins, it is necessary to remember our former sinful state in order to remain humbly grateful for our salvation. Remembering that our salvation is an unmerited gift destroys our pride, which is usually the culprit motivating our gossip. This prevents us from giving into gossip because it humbles us each day, making us thankful for the freedom we now have from sin and the inevitable pain it causes. Further, daily remembering our gift of salvation compels us to offer that same gift to others. Simply put, gospel sharing and gossip sharing are counterproductive; the two cannot co-exist. Thus, a daily reminder of our personal need for our Savior will keep us gracious in the way we speak of others.
3. Jesus-followers consider others better than themselves.
Philippians 2:3-4 gives practical application for living out the gospel, instructing Christians to,
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
When we are thinking more highly of others than ourselves, we are not going to speak harmfully of them. Even in candid moments when we are sure the subject of our potential gossip will never hear of it, we will have the desire to protect them from the pain that our words could cause. Thus, we choose to only speak well of them, as we would desire they only speak well of us.
4. Jesus-followers provide each other with encouragement and accountability.
Therefore, encourage one another and build up one another.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11a
Throughout the Bible, God reminds us to be unified in our faith as we encourage one another. He purposely designed us to need one another. When I use my words to speak well of my sister in Christ, it is unlikely that she is going to take offense and speak negatively of me. Kindness is contagious.
Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” – Galatians 6:1a
To eliminate the sin of gossip from our lives, accountability is necessary. Just like with any bad habit, the tendency to continue it will arise. At these times, we are to lovingly remind each other that gossip is not welcome in our circles. Through mutual encouragement and accountability, gossip will be kept where it belongs – out.
5. Jesus-followers serve others.
If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.” – John 13:14-15
Who has time to be tempted by gossip when they’re busy following Christ’s example of selflessly serving others? When we’re “devoted to one another in brotherly love” as Paul speaks of in Romans 12:10, we don’t have it in our hearts to speak negatively of others because we’re too filled with love and honor for those who would otherwise be the subjects of our gossip. Instead of participating in idle conversation, the Jesus-follower who makes “Christian gossip” an oxymoron spends time serving others.
These are five simple biblical principles that all point in the same direction – toward our Savior King. When these principles become our habits – our way of life, we accomplish more than a gossip free life. We accomplish gospel living and get to watch in grateful wonder as the Lord leads others to Himself through us. There is no better reason to make “Christian gossip” an oxymoron in your life than this!