Category Archives: gossip

Victim Lawyers

Proverbs 24:28-29

28 Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause; and deceive not with thy lips.
29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.

Perhaps you remember my last entry from a few days ago, Pray for Your Enemies and the few since then. There is a common theme that is continued here, a theme dealing with envy and revenge and, ultimately, pride.

Perhaps you have heard of those so-called “victim lawyers” who look for ways to sue people and/or businesses for supposed infractions on freedoms or services received. Even though there is rarely solid cause for these lawsuits, there are enough times when the “victims” win their cases. This causes fear and confusion for many, causing pushed up prices, changes to things (often for the worse), or closing good businesses.

Some of these lawyers do it for fun, while others do it because they have been wronged before and wish to help others no matter the social cost.

The Great Accuser

There is one who does this against each and every person, but with much greater consequences and cost to the individuals.

Sadly, much of his accusations are true.

Thankfully, we have a better lawyer … if we are Christians. The Devil, the one full of pride and envy of the love we give God, accuses us of our sins straight to God, yet he does not have the ultimate victory over us who believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior from our sins.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.

11 They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.

12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.”
Revelation 12:10-12, NIV

Our Father, help us to live like the father of lies. Remove all envy and malice, hatred and pride from our hearts. Create in us hearts that do not want to bring shame to our neighbor and lead to our destruction, but hearts that are full of love and may help lead others to everlasting life, in Jesus name.

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Trouble’s Not My Friend

Proverbs 22:24-25

Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.

Just Mad

At first glance it might seem like “angry” would be self-explanatory. We’ve all seen someone throw a tantrum. We’ve all gotten furious over something. There’s nothing unusual about losing one’s temper once in a while. But when Solomon advises us to stay away from an angry or furious man, he is not referring to a man who throws his popcorn when his favorite team loses the championship in the last second of the game. We’ve all done that…right?

No, this proverb is talking about people who are always angry, always furious, always upset over something. It’s a warning to stay away from people like that, unless, of course, you want to start acting just like them.

Contagious Anger

  • Women-haters. Hang around these guys very long and you’ll never find love. However, you could start a club.
  • Disgruntled employees. Talk about angry! They make the water in the water cooler boil. Unfortunately, those who listen to them too long tend to overlook the blessing of being employed and end up out of work.
  • Bitter wives and jilted lovers. Talk about furious! Hide all sharp objects and weapons of any kind when you’re in their presence unless you want to get hurt. Better yet, don’t listen to them for too long or you might end up being  recruited to exact their revenge.
  • Political conspiracy theorists. They mean well, but they’re not well. They see grander schemes than actually exist and draw others into their paranoia.
  • Church gossips. They’re typically angry because things aren’t going their way. They look for ways to tear down others while they sap the joy and faith out of you. Before long you become one of them.

Why be like the angry and furious man? Is not God in control? Prolonged anger signifies a heart problem fueled by selfish demands, so is it worth a snare to the soul?

Avoid Trouble

The next time Mr. Trouble comes around looking for a companion, politely excuse yourself; he’s not your friend.

Rather, make Jesus your friend; He is gentle and lowly of heart. Instead of a snare, He will give rest to your soul (Matthew 11:29).


The Gossip

Proverbs 20:19.

“He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.” (KJV). 

Gossip Described:

The Book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the dangers of gossip:

  • “A gossip goes around revealing secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.” (11:13, NLT).
  • “A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.” (16:28, NLT).
  • “A gossip tells secrets, so don’t hang around with someone who talks too much.” (20:19, NLT).

To sum up, a gossip tells secrets, stirs up strife and separates friends. And how does the Bible tell us to deal with gossips? Don’t hang around with them! It should go without saying, but if someone will gossip to you, they will also gossip about you.

Gossip Illustrated:

I read this poem once that best illustrates the destructive nature of gossip:

My Name Is Gossip. I have no respect for justice.
I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives.
I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.
The more I am quoted the more I am believed.
 
I flourish at every level of society. My victims are helpless.
They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face.
I am nobody’s friend. Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.
I topple governments and ruin marriages.
 
I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartache and indigestion.
I spawn suspicion and generate grief.
I make innocent people cry in their pillows.

Even my name hisses. I AM CALLED GOSSIP.

Gossip Experienced:

I hate gossip. I have seen firsthand how it can destroy friendships, break hearts, and ruin lives. I know of someone who gossiped about their pastor, and how it caused other people to leave that church as a result of their malicious lies and slander. It caused the pastor no small amount of sleepless nights, heartache, many tears and overwhelming stress. It was so hurtful that it almost caused him to want to give up and quit the ministry! Thankfully, the pastor leaned on the Lord for strength and he is still in the ministry today.

Elsewhere in Proverbs, Solomon tells us: “Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.” (26:20). If we want to guard against strife, we need to take a stand against gossip. Make a commitment to never speak a negative word about someone else – whether what you are saying is true or not. The power of life and death is in your tongue: speak life only!


Tasty Gossip

Proverbs 18:8

“The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”
“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (NIV)

Choice Morsels

I love good food, and considering I couldn’t fit into my new suit coat, maybe a little too much. As a matter of fact, Thanksgiving was months ago, but I’m still suffering the effects of that meal. It was just sooooo good!

pinto beans with cornbread

Pinto beans with cornbread.

However, the best tasting kind of food is what many call “comfort food.” It’s the kind of food that makes one feel good. It’s the kind of food for which a person longs. Comfort food is choice food, and every morsel is an experience worth savoring.

For many people, gossip is like comfort food; it satisfies a hunger and desire to feel better, if only about one’s self. Gossip is tasty.

Hidden Dangers

The problem with comfort food, however, is that it goes down easy, but it never wants to leave; it sticks around in the belly, the liver, the arteries, and the heart. A constant desire for it can lead to irreversible health problems.

A few years ago I saw a documentary about a man who weighed nearly 1,000 pounds. He ate all the food he wanted, but the weight he gained left him immobile. Unbelievably, when help finally came to take him to a hospital, caretakers actually found a discarded chicken bone embedded in his his leg. His choice morsels left him wounded.

Gossip Chef

Today’s proverb addresses the words of a talebearer, or gossip. Interestingly, the Authorized Version describes the words of a gossip as wounds, while other translations render the word wounds as choice morsels. Either way, the words of a talebearer have a way of sinking down deep, eventually affecting the hearer in a negative way.

One commentary says,

The juicy tidbits of gossip are eagerly devoured by persons disposed to listen to them, as a glutton helps himself freely to tempting food. The slanderous words do not make a superficial impression, but penetrate into the innermost recesses of the listener where they are thoroughly digested.*

But unlike the great chefs of the world who prepare choice delicacies for many people at a time, the gossip partakes in every meal served. Not only is the belly of the customer fattened, but also the gossip chef. Eventually both will die of heart disease.

*James E. Smith, The Wisdom Literature and Psalms, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 1996), Pr 18:1–8.


Lying Lips

Proverbs 10:18

“He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.”

In this proverb of Solomon (10:1), he joins together two actions related to the tongue which at first blush appear to be opposites, and yet paradoxically, the two actions produce the same outcome!  Let’s look more closely.

A PARADOX

In the first instance, he draws to our attention the one who “hideth hatred with lying lips.”  In other words, his lips are moving, but the words pouring forth from his mouth conceal the hatred and loathing in the heart.

Perhaps you’ve caught yourself exchanging Monday-morning pleasantries with a co-worker, chatting harmlessly about the activities of the recent weekend… on the outside you present the image of the nicest guy in the office, but on the inside, you hate the co-worker’s guts!  You are speaking, but your speech is not consistent with your heart.

In the second instance, he speaks of a different sort of person entirely – one whose mouth spews venomous slander.  To return to the example of Monday morning in the office, this is the co-worker who verbally “runs down” everyone and everything, especially attacking the actions and motivations of others, casting others into a negative light.

The polite person with the hateful heart, and the hateful person gushing poisonous slander – they’re entirely different, right?  No, says Solomon, they are surprisingly similar.  Both are morally deficient – fools, in fact.

THE POINT OF THE PROVERB

Listen up, because this is key.  The “jab” of this proverb lies in the first half.  It speaks to those of us who have been trained to “be polite,” when our outer friendliness is a mask of hypocrisy.  Jesus reserves his harshest condemnation for people who pretend to be something on the outside, but have murder within (and yes, according to Jesus, hatred is the moral equivalent of murder – Matthew 5:21-22).  It is so easy to identify – and condemn – the slanderer.

As a pastor, I can say without question that slander is one of the most destructive sins that can strike a congregation.  But at least with the slanderer, you know what you’ve got. How much more deceptive, subtle, and evil is the Pharisaic hypocrisy of hiding hatred with lying lips.

SIMPLICITY OF SPEECH

The proverb calls us to simplicity of speech.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.  As the Master said, “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no,’ ‘no’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 6:37).  And no, that’s not a free pass to tell people off!  As Jesus-Followers, we “speak the truth in love” to one another (Ephesians 4:15).

Father God, grant us simplicity of speech coming from hearts full of the love of Christ.  Forgive us our sins of the tongue, we ask, for the sake of Thy dear Son, Christ our Lord, in whose Name we pray:  Amen. 


The Stinky House Connection

Proverbs 30:10

“Accuse not a servant unto his master, lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty.”

My Story

The following story is not a perfect example of Proverbs 30:10, but it is close. Let me tell it to you, after which I will try to make a connection.

A little more than a decade ago I was an insurance agent for a large, well-known life and health insurance company. My primary job was selling life insurance, which sometimes required I simply knock on doors in search of new clients.

One day, as I was canvassing a neighborhood, I came to a house and immediately smelled a very strong, nauseous odor, accompanied by the loud barking of dogs inside. The odor coming from inside the house was so bad it made me worry something was terribly wrong.

I left the house, continued to knock on doors close by, but inquired of neighbors if they had recently seen the home owner coming or going. None had, which led one neighbor to tell me he’d ask another neighbor, a policeman, to go check things out. I did not stay, but went on my way, returning to my office a few hours later.

Upon arriving at my office in Nashville, Tennessee, I was immediately called into a meeting. My sales manager was very angry and began berating me for “sticking my nose where it didn’t belong.” Come to find out, the one living in the house that stunk was alive and well and very upset that the police had paid him a visit. The resident demanded that I be reprimanded for invading his privacy and causing him trouble.

After several minutes of being yelled at, I was told to go to my desk and stay out of other people’s business.

The Rescue

I went back to my cubicle feeling completely defeated. I had only tried to be a good citizen, but now I was about to lose my job! Just then I received a phone call…it was the father of the man living in the house…the father of the man who wanted me to be fired.

“Are you the one who visited the house on _______ Street?” asked the man on the phone. “Yessir,” I answered. “And did my son call your boss and get you in trouble?” he asked. “Yes, sir, he did,” I replied.

“Son, my boy has been nothing but trouble for me, and I have threatened to throw him out,” said the father. “He stays there rent-free, but he’s nearly destroyed my house, and I’m tire of those stinking dogs!” The man on the phone then told me not to worry about my job, or my manager, or about getting into trouble. “I’ll take care of it for you…you did the right thing…don’t worry,” he said.

The old man on the phone then told me, “Young man, I am a federal judge. Give me your boss’s phone number and I promise he will not give you any more problems. That’s my house, and I overrule my son.”

Ten minutes later I was called to my sales manager’s office once again. He was very nice to me, to say the least.

The Connection

Honestly, I don’t know what that powerful federal judge told my sales manager, but it was enough to make him act like a whipped pup. And I don’t know whatever happened to the son who lived in the house that smelled horrible, but my guess is he was made to move.

Were my actions appropriate? Was it right to report that house? I don’t really know.  All I do know is that when I was accused to my “master,” somebody besides me was found “guilty.”


The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Proverbs 26:24-26

24 He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him;
25 When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart.
26 Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation.

24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips,
    but in their hearts they harbor deceit.
25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them,
    for seven abominations fill their hearts.
26 Their malice may be concealed by deception,
    but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. (NIV)

The Big Shots

Yesterday, David looked at verse 23 dealing with those who cover up their wickedness to look good. These verses come out of that.

He mentioned the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Today we tend to think about politicians or corporate bigwigs that put up a front to look good for their employees or their constituents. In truth, they are only out for their own gain.

The really bad ones are those who will stop at nothing, hurt anyone to get what they want or to be entertained.

The Church Enemy

The scariest ones are those in the Church.

Who are they? They are the church-goers who:

  • Gossip (sometimes through “prayer requests”)
  • Complain about everything at the church
  • Complain about everything in life
  • Live two separate lives: one at church and one everywhere else
  • Purposefully disobey the pastor or church teachings
  • Cause divisions (start fights, spread malicious rumors, etc.)
  • Give the minimum effort (and usually have excuses)
  • Never give any effort at church (and always have excuses, if they talk about it)
  • Those who justify every action they take (usually with “But you have to understand …”)
  • Who start debates with “I am a Christian, so …” and then attempt to defend non-Christian behaviors and actions.

I could go on for a very long time. They act like they love others, but they really hate.

The question is …

Did you see yourself in that list?

The scariest enemy is the one who acts like your friend. Read Galatians 5:19-21 for Paul’s list of who they are.

Heavenly Father, help us to remove all the falseness and pretense from our lives. Create in us a clean heart free of all malice, deceit, and wickedness. Help us to be followers of You and not the father of lies.