Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My Daily Summit with the Living God: my tongue

Today in my daily devotions I came to Proverbs 25. There are many great pieces of wisdom in this chapter, but a few in particular caught my attention, with a common theme centering around the tongue and how I use my own.

As always, I found myself asking, "How does this apply to me in my daily summit with the Living, Triune God.

Here's what I came up with.

Gossip, rumors, slander, lies and self-control

Proverbs 25:9-10, 18, 23, 28
9 When arguing with your neighbor,
don’t betray another person’s secret.
10 Others may accuse you of gossip,
and you will never regain your good reputation.

18 Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax,

wounding them with a sword,

or shooting them with a sharp arrow.

23 As surely as a north wind brings rain,
so a gossiping tongue causes anger!

28 A person without self-control
is like a city with broken-down walls.

I was thinking about how easy it is for me to join in with others as they talk about people who are not present; talking about them behind their back. I can easily get caught up in this type of conversation.

"Oh, did you hear about what happened to so and so?" That's how it starts. So and so is not present, and others, either out of concern, or simply to pass along information others may or may not know, feel it is their obligation to inform others.

Gossip is simply sharing information about another person, without their knowledge or consent, usually when that person is not present.

The Bible is very specific about the sin of gossip and the harm it can cause others as we share their secrets and personal lives with others. At times we may think we are doing someone a favor by sharing their news, good or bad, with other people who may be concerned.

Example: someone shares with me a personal struggle or problem they are having and they have asked me to pray for them. Without asking if I may share this with others, I go and tell others, "Oh, pray for so and so, he's having family and financial problems." The next Sunday in church, half a dozen concerned people approach so and so and tell him,"We prayed for you this week. How are your family and financial problems working out?"

I could have avoided embarrassing this man by either asking if I can share his personal stuff with others who might also like to pray for him. Sometimes people don't want others knowing everything they're going through. He may say,"Yes, but not all of the details, " or "No, keep it between you and me."

Then there are rumors, which is a form of gossip that may or may not be true. The conversation may start as simple gossip but progresses as tid-bits are added to the conversation. Sometimes we may talk just to talk, and listen in as people are gossiping about others, and then it's our turn to add something to the conversation; something we might know about the person everyone is talking about. It is so easy to get pulled into such a conversation. Often we don't even think about it until we're in the middle of the conversation.

Slander is a form of gossip, but with malicious intent. The person who starts the gossip may be venting their anger against another person, so they start a juicy rumor that soon spreads. Other things get added, such as outright lies.

Proverbs 25:23 says that ...so a gossiping tongue causes anger."

As I was reading through this verse a question came to mind, "How would you like it if you were the subject of someone else's gossiping?"

It is probable that at some point in my life I have been talked about behind my back. I don't like it and neither do most people. So, as the Bible also says in what we know as the Golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," so I must refrain from gossiping about others. As tempting as it may be, I must bow out of such conversations. The next time someone asks for my input in such a conversation, what will my response be?

How about you?