“Stop” I wanted to say to the two ladies I regularly come in contact with. Oh, how I longed to have the words and diplomacy to tell them that the more they gossip and complain, the worse their situation was getting. Yet, I was left in this conundrum. I could do three things:
- Turn a blind eye and pretend their situation didn’t matter to me
- Engage in the gossip and complaints
- Listen, encourage, and bring positivity into conversations as skillfully as possible.
Honestly, I think I’ve done all three (oh, Jesus help me ha ha ha ha). The counselor in me loves to listen to people’s hearts and stories. I have all the time in the world for people. Yet, my conscience would be pricked as I found myself often taking their side and unintentionally slipping into the gossip. My conscience was further agitated because I don’t like gossip at all. The conviction of my heart is this: gossip robs me of my spiritual authority because it compromises the purity of my heart. So, I had to run into Jesus’ arms for a heart examination. Seeking the Lord’s insight and help is the best way to test your heart and protect it from gossip, negativity, criticism, and more.
It always starts in the heart
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:45 (NIV)
Over the days, I would sit with the Lord examining my heart. It is imperative to test your heart as it will propel you deeper in your relationship with God.
At first, I couldn’t quite pinpoint the “heart” reason behind my entertaining this gossip. God in his loving mercy allowed me to have a conversation with a trusted friend. In this discussion, I realized I was partnering with a spirit of gossip because I was afraid of being ostracised. You see, it came down to the desire to be accepted and approved of by people. I was trying to be a round peg in a round hole when in fact I’m a diamond.
With a contrite heart, I ran to the Lord in repentance. It didn’t matter what people thought about me. They only give a biased opinion of us based on an itty-bitty experience they have with us. God, on the other hand, sees every dynamic and facet of our life. His opinion is the only unbiased one we can get about who we are.
You and I both have the approval and acceptance of the magnificent, Creator God. The only way to realize this is to test your heart against the Scriptures and God’s perspective.
That took care of my struggle to stop entertaining gossip and start being the atmosphere shifter God has asked me to be. However, the gossip continued.
What is the source of gossip and negative talking?
Our words create worlds (read here for Part 1) and gossip falls largely into this reality. Sadly gossip creates a world of negativity, division, strife, and pain. Even worse, without us realizing it, we are prophesying death and destruction over people’s lives, jobs, families, and destiny every time we say a harsh word, judgment, etc. Am I being extreme? Yes, and honest – perhaps more to myself than to you.
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be arrogant, and [as a result] be in defiance of the truth. This [superficial] wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly (secular), natural (unspiritual), even demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder [unrest, rebellion] and every evil thing and morally degrading practice. James 3:14-16 (AMP)
If we look at the above Scripture and the nature of gossip, you’ll see that gossip, criticism, cynicism, and negativity all step from selfish ambition, jealousy, bitterness, and anger. None of these are the fruit of the spirit or the heart of God. Thus whenever we participate in these actions we are partnering with the kingdom of darkness. No wonder we begin to experience unrest, disunity, rebellion, disorder, and toxicity. The spiritual atmosphere becomes suffocating and the walls begin to feel like they’re closing in on us.
Bottom line, the condition of your heart is going to drive the words flowing from your mouth. You need to test your heart.
How do we deal with our heart?
Here are some ways to test your heart which God led me through as I dealt with my heart before him:
- I asked God to forgive me for partnering with a spirit of gossip
- Find the root – I asked God to show me what was causing me to keep being pulled into this behavior? In other words, what was the hook or wound that needed to be dealt with and healed
- Forgive the people who had hurt me – I asked God to show me all the people who had made me feel ostracized and insignificant (or rejected for being unique).
- God, what is the truth?
- Meditate on the truth God showed me
- Intentionally keep quiet until I had something positive or constructive to say (without correcting).
- Keep myself fixed on the Lord by listening to some of my favorite worship music, sermons on YouTube or read my Bible.
- When all else fails, pray.
I’m still working through some of these processes. Some days, I make a mistake and slip up. Mostly, God has helped me to either keep quiet, say something helpful or protect me from the conversations.
I’m going to leave you with this weighty Scripture:
If you belonged to the world, the world would love [you as] its own and would treat you with affection. But you are not of the world [you no longer belong to it], but I have chosen you out of the world. And because of this the world hates you. John 15:19 (AMP)