Faith & Insight: Take steps to help overcome gossip
For the Nevada Appeal
Gossip, gossip, gossip. Don’t you just get tired of hearing all the negative gossip? The Bible tells us the tongue is our worst enemy. “The tongue is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person,” James 3:6 says.
In the book of Romans, Paul includes gossip among the sins of murder, envy, greed, deceit and malice. He said “those who do such things deserve death.” So why does God despise gossip? Proverbs offers several verses on the subject. A gossip “betrays a confidence” (11:13) and “separates close friends” (16:28). When we say negative remarks about other people, we are inflicting emotional pain on them. Instead of a physical punch, we are shooting daggers into their heart. As Christians, we are supposed to honor God in all areas of our lives, right?
So, what should we do when we encounter gossip, or any negative remark? There are three basic responses. They are:
• Speak Out: Kindly, but firmly, tell your friends gossip is hurtful and inappropriate, and no one benefits from it.
• Be Positive: Turn the conversation around by saying something nice about the person being talked about.
• Walk Away: If they persist in being negative, do not become a part of the problem by sticking around to listen.
Gossip is everywhere: at school, in the mall, on the Net, and yes, even at church. You would think stuff like this would not happen in church sanctuaries or church-sponsored functions, right? Wrong. Unfortunately gossip disguises itself in many forms, and before you realize, it shows its ugly face.
So I guess the next question is how do you control the urge to gossip and how do you deal with the situation of being talked about in a negative way? We all get caught in this difficult situation. I know I have, and the worst experience is when you walk into a place and have people run to you with the latest gossip. This is what works for me and keeps me focused in the right, positive direction:
• Resist the Urge: If you hear something negative about something or someone and you are not sure if it is fact, break the cycle – let it end right there.
• Pray: Get on your knees and pray. Pray for the people being talked about, pray for your family and pray for your enemies. (I know that one is hard, however God says so. So Pray!) Pray for courage if it is you they are gossiping about.
• Go to God: Talk, cry, scream or do whatever it takes to resolve your hurt. Just hand it over to him.
• Forgive: You can only do this by the grace of God. And you need to no matter how difficult it is.
• Confront: When your emotions are under control, tell the person or people who hurt you how their words made you feel. Then tell them you forgive them. Hopefully, this will help you move on with your friendship.
I still deal with gossip almost on a daily basis, whether it is as a recipient or a participant. But the more I learn about God’s love, the more I realize the importance of encouraging others – and that never includes gossip.
I love receiving your e-mails, letters and phone calls. Please send them in. You may write to Doug Stewart, Director of Youth and Family Ministry, St Teresa of Avila Catholic Community, 3000 N Lompa Ln., Carson City, NV 89706, you may call 775 882-1968 ext 111.