June 2, 2010
No More Backbiting
"Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:31-32 (MSG)
We heard a screech from my three year-old granddaughter. Bawling like a newborn calf quickly followed. My daughter-in-law and I rushed to Emily and found a purplish-red oval on her back. Ouch! It seemed her younger sister bit her on her back as they struggled for possession of a toy.
This childish episode caused me to imagine God gazing down on our behavior, shaking His holy head and saying, "Stop talking badly about one another. You're hurting her. Stop backbiting over such silly things."
Unfortunately, backbiting comes easily for us, doesn't it? We become put out over a co-worker, a neighbor, or even a sister in Christ, and begin to spew negative words. Our tongues wag and we injure people—sometimes the ones we love the most.
Remember the childhood rhyme, "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me"? Ha! That is a false statement. Hurtful words can damage and leave bite-marks for a lifetime.
So why do we do this? We backbite because our words are the most difficult thing for us to control. The Bible states in James 3:2, "Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way" (NLT). We need to pray that the Holy Spirit will nudge us each time we are ready to fling a few disparaging words.
In addition, if we are the recipient of a bite on the back, we must learn to forgive quickly. Our key verse advises us to, "Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you." This isn't as hard as it may seem. Realize that things are said that may be misspoken and not meant to hurt as much as they do. Understand that if you hold bitterness in your heart about the unkind words, the bitterness affects you, not the other person.
I witnessed this forgiveness in action with my granddaughters. The younger one, the backbiter, looked defiant, then confused, then sad. She said, "Sworry." They hugged.
Later in the day Emily, the granddaughter who had been bitten, said, "It hurt real bad, but now it's not." Yes, there are two lessons to be learned from our key verse and these two toddlers: don't backbite—and forgive.
Dear Holy Spirit, I ask You to nudge me the next time I begin to backbite. Give me the sense and control to shut my mouth before anything hurtful hurls itself off my tongue. Also, help me to forgive those who hurt me with their words. Mold me into Your image of grace and forgiveness. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Embraced by the Father: Finding Grace in the Names of God by Susanne Scheppmann
30 Days to Taming Your Tongue and accompanying Workbook
Birds in My Mustard Tree: How to Grow Your Faith by Susanne Scheppmann
Visit Susanne's blog
Read James 3:1-12. Ponder what James compares the tongue to in these verses. Consider if your tongue is a "restless evil, full of deadly poison." Determine today not to backbite anyone—no matter how aggravating. Decide to use your tongue for the encouragement of others and to praise our God.
In what situations do I most like to use my tongue in a negative manner?
Why do I backbite? Is it jealousy, bitterness, or a power struggle?
Proverbs 21:23, "Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble." (NLT)
1 Peter 3:10, "For, 'Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.'" (NIV)
James 3:5, "Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark." (NIV)
© 2010 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105