We’ve all been hurt by other’s words, speculations, and talk. We’ve all said things that were not grace-filled and we wish we could take back. We’ve all spoken too quickly and were faced with the consequences of hasty words or unjustified attitudes.
I recently shared with Doug that I wanted to be more gracious in the way that I think and talk about others.
He shared with me a few practical questions he asks himself (or someone sharing with him) to see if something is worth sharing. I added a few as well that have helped me avoid gossip.
5 Practical Questions to Avoid Gossip
1) Are you sharing something because you want the person that you are sharing it with to try to remedy/help the situation?
Ex: I’ve never had an experience of miscarriage, but you have and I wanted to see if you might talk to this person to encourage them.
2) Are you sharing something because you want the person that you are sharing it with to help you try to decide what to do in a particular situation?
Ex. I had a conflict with a coworker and I said some things that I shouldn’t have. I am really embarrassed and grieved. I am not sure how to approach the situation.
3) Are you sharing it because you know someone should act to help the situation and you are trying to figure out who should do so?
Ex: A friend shared with me that she was in an abusive relationship. I feel that the situation is out of her hands and mine, and I wanted to see what steps that I should take to get her help.
4) If you are sharing with someone, can details be left out, so that you can still ask for prayer without compromising or sharing about another person’s behavior in a way that would demean or undermine them?
Ex: I have been having some relational conflict with a close friend. I want to pray that I can quickly forgive her and do my part to restore the relationship.
5) Am I sharing this piece of information because I am genuinely concerned, worried or grieved about my own sin in a situation or am I simply trying to point to other’s mistakes?
Ex. We’ve both sinned in very serious ways against each other and have talked about those, but I am still unsure how to change my anger issues. I want to change, but I am not sure how to treat that person and esteem them.
Chances are if you are more concerned with the other person’s actions, but do not feel that there is something that needs to be acted on, then you should not share the news. If you are sharing news and you don’t want the person that you are sharing the news with to act, then you shouldn’t share the news. If you go into explicit detail when few details would suffice, you are most likely trying to maximize the fault of someone else or highlight the other person’s sin. The Bible calls this slander and says that this is very divisive.
Here are some scripture verses that have been particularly convicting and challenging in this regard.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your[a]life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:[b] sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.[c] 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[d] with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,[e] free; but Christ is all, and in all.
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”