Open your Bibles to Proverbs 17 and let's dig!
I gave you three verses to read today; so after you have read them to yourselves, I would like to focus on verse 9. Do you know what the verse is talking about? Read it again if not. Uh oh! Gossip and slander. A favorite topic among us women, I know!
I think all of us have been hurt by gossip at one time or another. We probably have even hurt someone. Sometimes entire nations get out of control about their gossip.
An example: President Lincoln's grave has been re-opened twice...just because of rumors spreading across the nation that he wasn't really dead. The first time was in 1887--twenty two years after he was killed. Fourteen years later...same reason. Rumors spreading the nation that he wasn't really in there. Couldn't even believe it the first time! Of course, Lincoln isn't the only. I mean--Elvis sightings have gone on as long as I can remember practically. And we live in Jesse James territory. Guess what? Yep...he had to be dug up too because people rumored that he wasn't there.
Oh these are just silly little rumors that didn't hurt a soul, but we all know there are rumors that have very badly hurt others. I was trying to think of a rumor that has hurt me; and here is the most recent that I can think of: When my ex husband and I separated, my deacon took it upon himself to write me a very hurtful letter accusing me of having an affair, among other things. He did not check with our Pastor first (who I'd been in counseling with through the entire process). This deacon I had known for years. His wife and I had a quilting group at the church. But he started a rumor weed...and it grew and I had to leave the church. Incidentally, I even showed the letter to my then estranged husband and he was very angry as well. He knew that the things written about me were not true. So, yes, I was deeply, deeply hurt. But God had plans for me, and I found an even better church, so it was all good in the end. For me at least. I don't know about that deacon. We've not spoken since.
On the subject of gossip, Bill Gothard gives us 5 questions to ask before listening to a negative report from someone. These would be good to jot into your journal to remember.
1. What is your reason for telling me? Widening the circle of gossip only compounds the problem.
2. Where did you get your information? Refusal to identify the source of information is a sure sign of an evil report.
3. Have you gone to those directly involved? Spirituality is not measured by how well we expose an offender but by how effectively we restore an offender (Gal. 6:1). Satan will sift you like wheat.
4. Have you personally checked out all of the facts? Even facts become distorted when not balanced with other facts or when given with negative motives.
5. Can I quote you if I check this out?