Perhaps it seems like a strange topic to post about, but don’t stop reading now. Undoubtedly, many of you will know what I’m getting at after you’ve read a few more lines.
I’ve been especially aware of a certain conversation topic these days. It goes a little something like this (and of course, varies – I am making up the specifics as I go):
First woman: “Oh, your children are so well-behaved. Mine are just crazy. You know, I’m so high-strung and I have a really hard time being calm. Unfortunately, they’re pretty insane, too! Things are never calm at my house!”
Second woman: “My kids aren’t that well-behaved. Daughter is so hard-headed, and Son is so lazy. You just never get to see them act like that!”
Third woman: “Oh, I totally know what you guys mean. Oldest Teen Son is so rude – yet you’d never know it unless you’re me. He’s so ungrateful and just acts like I’m supposed to serve him without his thanks. The worst part is that he’s always respectful to his dad! What about me??”
First woman: “Ahh, yeah. Boys. What can you do?”
Can anyone tell what I’m getting at yet?
While most of us are aware that gossiping is not only rude and hurtful, yet also immoral (biblically speaking), we often think of it in terms of our friends. We try to be careful what we say, yet most of the time, we’re doing it for self-preservation instead of respect for our friends.
Here’s another situation:
First woman: “Ugh, my husband never listens to me. I told him to put the bread away after he made a sandwich – now look at it! It’s stale. I guess we need more bread. I’ll call him on his way home from work and tell him that he can pick it up. Ha! That’ll teach him.”
Second woman: “My husband does things like that all the time. I mean seriously, is he deaf or something? I can’t believe how difficult it is to get him to do things around the house. It’s like pulling teeth. I’m not asking for much, you know?”
I’ve been so saddened by these types of conversations. Not only are we stripping our children and husbands of their respectability, but we are proving ourselves untrustworthy. We are meant to protect them and uphold them – to respect them (yes, even our children!).
I’ve listened to wives talk sarcastically (or even seriously) about how “stupid” their husbands are, or how their children are just “too difficult” and are behaving so “typically.”
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29
How does gossip benefit anyone? How does it build others up? Like I said, I know we are familiar with gossip as it relates to our friends (and perhaps on the larger, more extended-family scale), but have we considered how it relates to our husbands and children?
The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts. Proverbs 18:8
When we gossip, the information sticks. If someone talks to me about her husband and the way he disrespects her, I may find it difficult to think of him otherwise. She, however, may speak with him, clear things up, and fully forgive him. And yet I’m left with the contaminating effects of gossip. I do not want to hear about her husband’s flaws – that information is between her, him, and the Lord!
In Romans, chapter 1, Paul speaks of the Romans and the way God gave them over to their depravity when they continued to demand their own way. When explaining what they were like, this is what Paul said (verses 29-31):
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
Notice the way “gossips” is included in the list of offenses, along with things like murder and God-haters! And, by the way, he does not specify that gossip is only offensive when it has to do with family or relatives. It applies to everyone – it is hurtful and does major damage – even when it involves our husbands and children.
Whether you feel like you struggle with this or not, I’d like to encourage you to be extra-sensitive to the way you speak of others to others. Consider the effects of your words. Are you bringing someone down? Are you inviting negative thoughts about others? Are you disclosing unnecessary information? We are called to something higher.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. Galatians 5:13-15
Now, to take a slightly different direction, let me say that I find it monumentally difficult to change myself sometimes. I read passages like the ones above, and I think, Okay, now I know what I’m doing wrong. But how do I change my behavior? I wish it would happen overnight, but my flesh always seems to take over.
While reading Galatians last week, I saw the passage about the fruits of the Spirit with new eyes, so to speak. I finally understood, and strangely enough, it was even simpler than I thought.
Give it to the Lord. Don’t just think of living by the Spirit. Do it. Study the Word. Surround myself with things – music, books, movies, even – that glorify the Lord instead of compromising my spiritual calling. It’s simple, really, when compared with other things. How do we become learned people? We read on the subject we’re interested in, we research, we talk with people who know about it, perhaps we take some classes, and we think about it – a lot. Why should this be any different?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:22-26
I really don’t want to sound preachy – the truth is, I have not mastered these things myself. I do, however, find it of utmost importance to always be aware of how we come off. We must guard our words and tame our tongues, though it may be greatly difficult. What we say can have a huge impact on others. Our husbands deserve our respect, and willingness to work through issues. Our children deserve our loving discipline, not our criticism when they’re not around. If they’re misbehaving, it’s likely that we are to blame!
We must be willing to push through this. We cannot pass off the responsibility. We’re called to rise above it – plain and simple. The Lord made an example of himself by showing us the greatest act of love there is – to lay one’s life down for the sake of another. Each time we choose to refrain from gossiping, we put another’s life, feelings, and heart before our own.
Thanks for reading!