Entering Dangerous Territory | Part Three

Standard

Last week I began unpacking my journey through “Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue,” by Matthew Mitchell. We looked at the first part of his one-sentence summary of the Bible’s teaching on gossip:

“Sinful gossip is bearing bad news behind someone’s back out of a bad heart.”

Today we pick up where we left off…


behind-your-back-oranges-300x224

(Photo Cred)

What does “behind someone’s back” mean?

We all know gossip happens when you are talking (or listening) about someone who is not there. We find it much easier to talk about someone else when they aren’t around don’t we? Not only is it easier, it’s more intriguing. This is the first red flag we should look for. This is the first sign that we are entering dangerous territory. This is our first check point.

Mitchell urges us to ask ourselves some questions before we talk or continue to talk about someone who is not present.

-Would I say this if he were here?

-Would I receive this bad news about her in the same way if she were present?

-Am I hiding this conversation from someone? (If you use the phrases “I shouldn’t be telling you this”, or “I know you won’t tell anyone else about this”, or “don’t tell anybody else I’m telling you this” to start off your conversation about another person, that is a good indicator that you shouldn’t be telling it, and if you hear those phrases you probably shouldn’t be listening to it).

-Would I want someone else to talk this way about me if I were out of the room?

Pretty convicting questions huh? But they are so practical. Such great weapons to keep close at hand as we engage in battle with gossip. I encourage you to write these down, or memorize them and try to apply them to your life this week. They will reveal your tendency to gossip and make you more aware of how much you engage in gossip (whether on the talking or listening side).

There is one more thing to be said here though, something that gets misunderstood. The Bible does not teach that we should never talk about people who are not present, rather it warns us to be careful what we say. Of course we should praise other people when they are not with us, we should turn gossip around and spread good news about people instead! Another time it is appropriate is under “the biblical principle of warning others…parents, teachers, elders and pastors, even friends, teammates, coworkers and neighbors all have to do that sometimes.” The biblical principle of warning others is also touched on later in the book, so once I get there I will unpack that a little more on the blog as well.

Finally, sometimes when we are seeking wise counsel from people about our conflicts, struggles, and problems we may need to share shameful things that someone else has done without them being present. This is not sinful gossip if you are truly seeking out help. But there is a fine line here. Often times we are tempted to mask our desire to gossip by labeling it “seeking counsel.” This is the area in which I have felt the most confused about gossip.

Since I was in elementary school I have found that people gravitate towards me to confide in and seek out wisdom and counsel, a gift I know is from the Lord. I so enjoy being that for people, but I can remember countless times when I have felt as though I know information about someone that I shouldn’t know, information that has tainted my view of someone because of what was shared by someone else. I know many times I have felt like “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with this information.” Most of it over the years I have held it inside because I haven’t wanted to share it, because people don’t confide in you so you can go tell other people. But it wears on you at times, it’s something you really have to ask The Lord to help with, to help you see people through grace-filled eyes. We must remember that we are only hearing one side of the story at times. I’ve come to find the antidote to this is finding and focusing on one good thing about the person you’ve heard shameful things about. And of course, we must remember that there are shameful things about us too. The ground is even at the cross.

As I seek counsel, as I struggle in my relationships with others, I have always tried to make an effort to talk more about what I am struggling with and my wrongs in the situation than focusing on the wrongs of the other person. Sometimes I fail, I fall into gossip disguised as “seeking counsel.” But the more I make a conscious effort to seek out what I need to work on in my relationships, the sin in my heart, the reasons why I feel hurt or angry or jealous toward someone else, the easier it is to seek wise counsel in a healthy way, a way that leads away from gossip instead of close to the line.

When I got married (and even when I was dating my husband), one thing I vowed to myself was I would always strive to only talk positively about my husband in public. I never want to be the reason someone’s view of my husband is tainted. But the thing is, I struggle in my relationship with my husband. There are conflicts, there are hard things, there are things that annoy me and things that hurt me, there are things that breed tension, there are things that I need to seek wise counsel on. And in these moments I make a sincere effort to focus on the struggle at hand more than the one I struggle with, I make a conscious effort to paint my husband in a positive light, even when I am sitting across from a friend or mentor seeking wise counsel. It’s not easy to keep that vow to only talk positively about my husband all the time, but that doesn’t mean I stop striving towards it. So should it be with any person.

One final note on this: It is important to choose wisely who we seek wise counsel from. Honestly, there are people in my life that I will never talk to about my struggles with my husband or other relationships I have. There are people of mine that I will never talk to about certain relational sin struggles I have. Why? Because I have found that with certain people it is easier for me to veer off the “seeking counsel” road and end up on the gossip trail. Or if someone has shared gossip to me, I know they will share it about me. Also we can get counsel from anyone, but not everyone will give wise counsel. As a rule of thumb, when a situation arises that we need wise counsel in, there are three things the person should posses: a fear of God (for the fear of God is the begging of wisdom and God is the giver of wisdom), the view that Scripture is supreme, and in most cases (if not all) you should seek wisdom from someone who has experience in the same situation you are seeking counsel on. As much as your single friend would like to give you marriage advice, there are just some situations they cannot speak into like a seasoned married person can. As much as they would love to seek wise counsel on how to handle a conflict with your boss, your atheist friend from high school cannot speak into your life about the Biblical principles of confronting conflict.

“They key to sharing circumstances with people in a right way is to keep loving others even when we have to talk about them and even if they are our enemies…simply put, we just need to apply Jesus’ Golden Rule to any difficult situation. If you have to talk about someone when they are not present, make sure that you are treating them as you would want to be treated.”


Join me next time as we touch on the final part of the definition of gossip… “out of a bad heart” and sift through why we gossip.

And as you go through this week, here’s some questions to reflect on:

-Why do you think it’s easier to talk about someone behind their back?

-How are you going to implement the questions Mitchell gives in your conversations to help you fight against gossip?

-Are you masking your want to gossip by labeling it “seeking wise counsel?” Who can you seek out when you need wise counsel who will keep you from veering to the gossip trail?

-Do you believe Jesus is better than gossip?

-Do you believe God is powerful enough to overcome gossip in your life?

A Thought for Your Thursday | When You Want Something Other

Standard

You want to go out to dinner. They wish they had food in the fridge.

You want a house. They wish they could afford an apartment.

You want to retire. They want a raise.

You want a better job. They want a job, any job.

You don’t have enough money for vacation. They don’t have enough money to pay their bills.

You want to have children. They want to be married.

You don’t want children. They can’t have children.

You want what they have. They want what you have.

Have you ever stopped to think about how privileged you really are?

When you are caught up in the wanting, focused on the lacking rather than the having, have you ever stopped to think that someone else would GLADLY live the life you lead? They would love to swap seasons?

When you are caught up in jealousy, do you realize that you may be the object of someone else’s jealousy?

We all want something else, something other, something more. We feel the pull. We feel the discontentment swell.

So how do you fight it?

When comparison costs us joy let thankfulness drown discontentment.

Give thanks today for the things in your life. Name them out loud, big and small. Trump jealously by verbally giving thanks for the blessings in other people’s lives, even your “enemies” (how often do you do that?). Engulf envy before it has a chance to plant its roots in your heart.

Anchor yourself in the truth that Jesus is enough. He knows your needs. Where the ideal is lacking, His grace abounds. Cry out in your discontentment. He will stir your wanting for Him. For only He satisfies.

A Thought for Your Thursday | Hurt Heals

Standard

All of us have more going on beyond the surface of our hearts. Different things will prick us in different ways depending on our certain season, when our senses are heightened in certain parts of our hearts.

How can we be sensitive to others sensitivity without taking responsibility for their sensitivity? How do we respond to those we have hurt when we never meant to hurt them? How do we balance saying “I’m sorry it hurt you,” when there was nothing inherently wrong with our act? When we aren’t sorry for our actions, but sorry of the result? How do we handle someone’s hurt which was not caused by but simply stirred, surfaced, by our actions?

God uses all types of situations in our lives to bring forth the junk in our hearts. Most of the times, He uses other people. And most of the times when we feel hurt we focus more on the anger or bitterness we have toward the person who hurt us, rather than focusing on the reason why we hurt. We say “look at what they did to me!” when God is trying to say “look at the condition of your heart.” We play the victim. The truth hurts, maybe that’s why we lie. We don’t want to deal with our mess so instead we try to blame someone else for causing it, when really it’s been there all along.

So to you who are hurting, would you be open to admitting you are hurt? Would you focus more on why you hurt than who hurt you? Would you be willing to let God illuminate something in your heart that He wants to change? Would you be sensitive to the fact that God hurts us to heal us?

To you who hurt another unintentionally, and are now hurting because they hurt, may false guilt not consume you. May you sift through the rubble and have great discernment as you replay the scene, when you examine your heart, when you seek where you might have done wrong. May you apologize when convicted. May you admit your wrongs if there are any. May you be kind and show compassion to the person, knowing there is a deeper issue at hand. But may you not shy away from firmly speaking the truth in love. May you stay to comfort when the truth hurts. Because sometimes hurting someone just might be the most loving thing you can do.

Featured Friday

Standard

For your Friday, here’s a photo and a few words from my friend Breanna…

bre

“I’ve been thinking a lot on sobriety; not physical sobriety, but spiritual. Physical drunkenness causes a person to lose their judgement, self-control, alertness, understanding of consequences, and usually leads them to only pay attention to personal desire. Alcohol is not the only means by which a person can be intoxicated and act this way. Many things can intoxicate our minds and distort our perception of reality. Whether it’s anxiety, lust, anger, idolatry, or fear; sin is toxic to our hearts and minds. We as the consumer become the consumed. BUT we have the gospel and grace of Jesus Christ, which like a cold shower or a hearty meal sobers us and brings us to our senses. And the Lord will NEVER grow tired of bringing us back to the reality of His unconditional love for us. IT WAKES US UP. He is faithful when we aren’t. If that doesn’t cause you to boast in your weaknesses all the more, I don’t know what will. Make much of Him today.

In Over My Head

Standard

The printing of music, the clicking of a mouse, the ding of a new email, the crunch of hole punching, the muffled laughter from the preschool which shares the building, the snaps of binder rings. These are the sounds of my new job.

As I go about my daily tasks, the music of Pandora Online Radio has been the current which I move to. Some songs I know and sing with, others unknown fade into the background, yet still carrying me.

And once in awhile a lyric pops out at me, makes me listen a little closer. Today was one of those days.

“Would You come and tear down the boxes that I have tried to put You in.” And I’m drawn in. The video found on YouTube, put on repeat, and I soak in the rest of the lyrics. And just like that, a song put into words what my heart has been fumbling to say lately.

“I have come to this place in my life
I’m full but I’ve not satisfied
This longing to have more of You
I can feel it my heart is convinced
I’m thirsty my soul can’t be quenched
You already know this but still
Come and do whatever You want to”

[I feel as though I’ve moved from season to season, believing that the next season would satisfy the longings in my heart. And each time I’m engulfed with disappointment when it doesn’t, but I’m not surprised. I constantly come to the place in my life when I realize that only Jesus satisfies. So no matter how full I am this side of Heaven, no matter how great the experiences here, I will still long for more, for other, for Him, for He in Him is fulness of all things].

“I’m standing knee deep but I’m out where I’ve never been
I feel You coming and I hear Your voice on the wind.”

[I have a desire to go deeper with the Lord].

“Would You come and tear down the boxes

That I have tried to put You in.”

[God is limitless, yet my mindsets try to limit Him. I try to limit Him by trying to be God in my own life, grasping for control, my way, my timing. I try to limit God when I try to make life perfect, the way I think it should be.]

“Let love come teach me who You are again

Take me back to the place where my heart was only about You
And all I wanted was just to be with You
Come and do whatever You want to”

[There was a time in my walk with the Lord where our relationship was so deep and intimate, it was fresh, growing, dedicated. But distractions have swarmed in, competing with my heart. These distractions have fogged my view of God, and when our view of God is off, our view of ourselves and the way we live our life is off too. My time, attention, and thoughts go elsewhere so easily. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Oh how my heart needs to be purified from the distracting idols. But I can’t do it on my own. I want to want Jesus. I want to want Him more than I want perfection, purpose, to use my gifts, to feel known, to be understood, friendships, acceptance, money, a house, a child, the love and attention of my husband, the approval of my parents. But I need Jesus to help me want Jesus. Jesus makes our hearts pure, Jesus makes us want Jesus, Jesus makes our hearts only about Jesus].

“Further and further my heart moves away from the shore
Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am Yours
Further and further my heart moves away from the shore
Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am Yours”

[No matter what it takes, no matter what I have to let go of, I want more of Him, I want to obey Him, I want to be with Him].

“Then You crash over me and I’ve lost control but I’m free
I’m going under, I’m in over my head
And You crash over me, I’m where You want me to be
I’m going under, I’m in over my head”

[Surrender is fearful, but surrender is where freedom is found.]

“Whether I sink, whether I swim
It makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head
Whether I sink, whether I swim
It makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head
I’m beautifully in over my head
I’m beautifully in over my head”

[ “I’m in over my head” typically means we are too deeply involved with something that we cannot deal with it any longer, that we have too many difficulties than we can manage. But, with Jesus, things are opposite. There is beauty in His crashing over us, being in over our heads, fully under His control, engulfed in who He is, so deeply involved with Him that nothing else in our lives matters].

As a New Week Dawns…

Standard

Indeed He is risen. May hope rise like our Risen Lord. May the dead, broken parts in our hearts bloom afresh as they experience His resurrected life. Jesus defeated sin and death, so we can be assured He can triumph over our struggles. May the grace that flowed from His side wash over us day after day, and motivate us. May we look to the ol’ rugged cross when we don’t feel loved and remember Love died for us. May the words “it is finished” cover our strivings for the cross was enough. May we look to Him as an example, dying to self and carrying our cross daily. Compelled by His love and empowered by His Spirit, may we share the Good News of Easter all our days, keeping our eyes toward the Heavens for soon and very soon our King is coming again. And we who are alive in Him shall rise with Him.