Scripture: “Whoever covers an offense seeks love but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.” (Prov 17:9)
Observation: “Psst! Gossip and gossipers.”
Application: Over the past few decades I have often wondered what the key points of gossip are. After all, if I knew how to identify gossip I could avoid being a gossiper.
Let me pull this back to facts: If I knew what are the key points of gossip I could identify that action in other people. That is the truth. I “never” gossip; other people do. Am I deceiving myself or what? Uh, yeah, I am.
No matter how I fool myself the subject of gossip is always there—whether I am an active participant or a passive one, this is a bogey-man hanging in the back of my mind.
It seems to me that the Holy Spirit gives us a couple of clues found in this Proverb reference: there is an offense involved. There is the repeating of a “matter.” There are also consequences referenced: Covering offense equals seeking love; repeating “matters” separates friends.
Great: this is very clear from 5,000 feet. What about on the ground floor where I live daily? How do I deal with it when life muddies the waters? What if I “share” concerns about somebody else in the Church? What if I talk about apprehensions concerning anything? Is this gossip?
Could be; maybe not. For me the fact is I don’t always know. Where does godly concern switch into ungodly gossip?
I think the answer is involved with this: Cultivating discernment. Verse 27 says: “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” If this isn’t a facet of discernment I don’t know what is.
Practicing discernment falls within the learning process of the precepts, doctrine, etc. of the Word of God AND cultivating specific godly relationships to learn how to walk worthy of the Gospel is imperative to the health and maturity of a Believer—and to learn how to properly and accurately avoid gossip based on the Word pulsing in my heart.
Confession: Outside of my wife I don’t currently have this kind of relationship (see Verse 17) and my heart is worse for it. I will bet that this resonates with other folks as well.
Prayer: Father, so many things I want and I want You to provide without me working for them. I am recognizing what a lazy time of life I have fallen into—cruising on the godly pursuit past of my life—substituting intention for actual doing, proving my Faith. Wind me up, O God; help me to stir myself up. Help me to hope again. AMEN.