I’m sure most of us have been at the receiving end of gossip. We may have even had the discomfort of hearing about such gossip ‘Through the Grapevine’ as Marvin Gaye famously sang. We, therefore, know how sharp a dagger gossip is, and how deeply it wounds us.
Yet, we too may yield to gossip to share ‘a juicy story’, or to betray someone’s confidence. We can even make our gossip sound spiritual by sharing it as a ‘prayer request’. The scripture however says, “A gossip betrays a confidence,” and “separates close friends” (Proverbs 11:13, Proverbs 16:28). When tempted to gossip, therefore, let’s ask God to help us to ‘shut the door to our lips’, so that we may not dishonor Him through our words.
Another way we can allow gossip to thrive is by opening our ears to listen to the gossip of others, and by responding, especially when the person being talked about is not present. The Scriptures however warn us against such behavior as Proverbs 17:4 says, “A wicked person listens to deceitful lips ...to a destructive tongue.”
I am reminded of a pastor I knew well who would often speak forcefully against gossip and conclude by saying, “If you must gossip, gossip the Gospel!”
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing.” (Philippians 2:14)
How many times we end up grumbling and accusing God through our words, especially when trials come our way, and when prayers don’t seem to get answered as we would like. It seems so easy to complain at such times, isn’t it?
The history of Israel on their way to the Promised Land, was much the same. It’s amazing that the Israelites could see all the awesome miracles God performed in Egypt and still keep grumbling. It seemed like grumbling was their national pastime! (Refer Numbers 11:1 and Exodus 16:2).
The Israelites grumbled about bread, meat, water, and so many other things. God provided bread from heaven, meat from the skies and water fountains from rocks (Nehemiah 9:15), but they still grumbled. Their clothes didn’t wear out, their feet didn’t swell (Nehemiah 9:21), yet they grumbled.
Because of their grumbling and unbelief, Israel lost out on the best God had for them. May that not be said of you and me. When tempted to grumble, let’s ask the Lord to ‘set a guard (like a sentry) over our words.’
I am always encouraged by the testimony of hymn writer Fanny Crosby. She never allowed her blindness, (apparently due to a medical misadventure), to create a spirit of discontent in her. I once read that she apparently had said, ’to complain…, I cannot and I won’t’. The lyrics of her inspiring songs, seen through the eyes of faith and not through natural sight, spoke about ‘visions of rapture,’ ‘echoes of mercy,’ and ‘whispers of love’ (From the hymn "Blessed Assurance”).
May the Holy Spirit give us strength today to turn our words of grumbling that certainly dishonors God, into words of praise that would bring glory to His name.
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