Tag Archive: gossip


‘I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.”'[vs.1]

strong opening line and one we could all learn from, which James picks up and runs with in chapter 3.1-12 which includes these warnings:

‘With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.’ [James 3.9-12]

as we read the psalm further, we see david can’t stay silent, but the idea of not rushing in with your mouth [yeah, yeah, i can still learn lots here sometimes, i didn’t say these weren’t addressed directly at me] is a good and wise one. the tongue can be such a destructive force and there is no UNDO button to save and make it as if it never happened – trust can be rebuilt [usually S-L-O-W-L-Y] but said things can not be unsaid and have a habit of being brought back to the surface with the littlest encouragement.

another idea behind the need to ‘put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked’ might be because bad talk can be contagious. when someone else starts gossiping or speaking bad about someone who is not around, the huge tendency and temptation is to use that as an opportunity to get all my built up irritation/frustration with that person or their actions out and before you know it the reputation of that person is lying pierced and bleeding on the floor in front of us, with no means of defence…

so i should always watch my tongue, but ESPECIALLY when i am in the company of others who are more likely to speak badly so that i won’t be caught up in it.

there is a lot more in this psalm and i would love to hear a thought that stood out for you in the comments section, but i think with the emphasis that James and others puts on the tongue, that it is worth just stopping for a moment and really letting this sink in, and maybe making a decision to take longer to speak and especially be careful of anything said about someone who is not in the room…

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

my housemate Monkman [aka Aaron Condon] and i are trying to set aside a meal to fast and pray together every week and this week on Thursday we sat on the floor in the office and read through psalm 17 which was the next one i was going to look at. and when we finished we read through psalm 18. and then 19. and it was so refreshing just reading a bunch of psalms together – we didn’t really discuss in depth or anything but just soaked in God’s word… try it.

so psalm 17…

very big one in verse 4: ‘I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.’ – between gossip, and speaking things that break down and don’t build up, as well as below-the-belt across-the-line kind of talk, this one is something that has been in huge focus in my life and community this week. and i think it is so important to note how easily we can justify any of these when we do it [“it’s not gossip, it’s sharing/caring/concern”; “it was just a joke, i didn’t really mean that”; “oh, i’m not as bad as…”] but be able to distinguish how bad it is in others [“he is such a gossip”, “that girl is so negative all the time”, “wo, i can’t believe you went there”]

but the Bible has a lot to say about the tongue and how we can use it for evil as well as for good… ‘With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.’ [James 3.9-10]

proverbs 15 has some more key things to say about the tongue:

‘A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.’

‘The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.’

‘The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.’

‘The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the hearts of fools are not upright.’

‘The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.’

[vs 1, 2, 4, 7, 14]

the psalmist says, ‘I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.’  If we could all live with that same kind of conviction, i believe we would transform the world. Speaking the truth in love, building up, holding people accountable, encouraging people in their gifting, warning those we love when they step close to the edge, speaking the name of Jesus more as an accompaniment to our actions…

psalm 17 has a lot more to offer, for sure, but i think that is enough for now.

i write a weekly email message called ‘Thort for the Week’ and i thort this week’s was an appropriate one to add here:

Dear friends

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” [James 3.9-12]

In light of the online Rob Bell ‘discussions’ that have been raging all over Facebook and Twitter and beyond this week, i would like to add a paraphrasing of this verse for modern times:

‘With our Facebook statuses/discussions we praise our Lord and Father, and with them we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same blog comes praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this can not be!’

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you have to guard your tongue, and your pen/typing finger. This passage from James really nails it on the head and is something a lot of Christ followers are needing to hear right now [all the way from John Piper – who publically tweeted his “Farewell Rob Bell” message linked to the Justin Taylor link on the upcoming Rob Bell book – to the average pleb, like myself, who loves to have his two cents aired on Facebook].

Are you honouring God by the way you speak?
Are you living like Jesus did in the way you write your statuses/blogs and comment on other peoples? In the way you engage with people online and off it?
This is crucial stuff because those outside of the church are watching – is the message they are receiving in line with “you will be known by the love you have for each other” [John 13.35]

Gossip, in general, is such a destructive force. But in the church it can be lethal. It is an area i know i am easily prone to and so i need to watch myself and i do sadly get it wrong a lot still, but hopefully am getting better. It is bad enough when you are sharing a story that is true. But lately i have witnessed people hearing a story that is not true and spreading it around their cell group or church which has resulted in a lot of people believing something that is actually a lie – which results in breakdown of relationship and judgement between them and the people the gossip was about. So at the very least we should ensure that the stories we are hearing and passing on are true. But there are a whole lot of stories that just don’t need to be passed on either way.

Gossip is usually about me. I gain acclaim and fame for sharing the story and so i feel good. And often others suffer because of it. So i really need to start holding my tongue and before sharing news/stories/situations of other people check my motives and ask what the purpose of sharing the story is – to build up or to break down? And then choosing to keep a lot more stuff to myself.

And as a community we need to really start shooting down gossip in love. When someone starts telling you a story about someone else and that person is not there and it is likely to be a negative thing, then jump in and say, “Excuse me, i don’t think it’s cool that i hear that if the person is not here” or something like that. The enemy uses this in a huge way to divide and conquer and we need to start getting on the offensive and fighting to protect those around us.

Consider your tongue this past week? Anything to confess or be ashamed of? Anyone you need to go and apologise to? Look to the week ahead and choose to speak life and love and unity.

In His strength
brett anderson

[if you would like to receive TFTW email brett at brettfish@hotmail.com with your email address and ask to be added]

judge not lest.

so i have decided to try and be less judging of people this year – i think a couple of times this last year it hit me how judgemental i have become – i don’t think i used to be that way but definitely an area i want to work on – i guess this last week nailed it home as i attended a funeral (my best mates mom in law) and a wedding (our wedding photographeress and friends of ours) and heard two people described as humble, non judgemental people… there is just something so attractive about being described that way… and more NBly, being that way and it’s definitely something i want to aim at in 2010 – not so much a resolution as a new years revolution one hopes (and i am that one!)

the preach at the wedding was by a dude who in the past preached one of the dodgiest sermons i ever heard – well maybe bad as opposed to dodgy – not the worst sermon ever which goes to guy-who-preached-on-divorce-at-a-wedding and went on and on about it and how it’s bad for the kids and blah blah blah tragic tragic downer of a sermon – a whole sermon on greet each other with a brotherly kiss – actually just incredibly random and i will never get those minutes of my life back – but yesterday at the wedding he preached one of the best wedding sermons i have heard – just full of life and truth and real and relevant and obviously well prepared as he had little gifts they had to open as he messaged (tbV’s favourite being the red and yellow cards to use in an argument) and so i went to him afterwards and told him and then chatted more to him and his wife at the after party.

there is a tendency to write people off and i think judging people really helps feed that tendency and i don’t think it’s ever (hardly) valid to write people off – i think i know that cos i have seen people write me off along the way and don’t want to feel i am worth writing off – and also i don’t think anyone wakes up in life and decides to be a chop altho some people do seem to graduate to that position along the way

so something about trying to see the absolute good in people and judging less and being a generally nicer person – and also gossiping less (wow, busy year ahead for me) – cos that is something else i have slipped into and i hate it and am not sure where it has come from. freak! there is a lot of horrible in me come to think of it. God, You and i have our work cut out this year. So empowered by being loved by a God who accepts me as i am in terms of loving me, but refuses to allow me to remain in that condition cos He constantly challenges me to be and do better and jump higher – may those all be categorisations of 2010.

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