Being on the Receiving End of Gossip

We’ve all been there.

And it hurts.

People love to gossip. It’s hard wired into fallen human nature.

Someone once said. “A lie can make it halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on.” And we all know the joke (containing a great deal of truth): “Christians don’t gossip; they share ‘prayer requests.”

Years ago, I was on the receiving end of a “gossip mill”. It was demoralizing. None of it was true. But trying to address it was futile.

A friend told me that attempting to address every slanderous word said about you is like releasing a huge bag of feathers into a strong West Texas wind and hoping to catch each one. It simply can’t be done.

It brings us a degree of comfort knowing that King David, described in the New Testament as a “man after God’s own heart”, spent much of his adult life dealing with people who maliciously slandered him. David knew all too well the sting of betrayal. He laments, “It is not an enemy who taunts me— I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me— I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you—my equal, my companion and close friend.” (Psalm 55:12-13)

Understand this: gossip is, at its root, bullying. Except gossip is different than overt bullying in that it’s the “coward’s form of bullying.” They’re not even brave enough to bully you to your face. :)) The one and only hope a gossip has to hurt you is their malicious and hateful words, motivated by childish pettiness, immaturity and insecurity. In short, gossip is about them, not you.

Do not allow their words to have power over you. Do not take the bait to react. Consider the source: someone’s pathetic attempt to hurt you and bring you down to their level of personal misery. Misery really does love company.

In the Proverbs, Solomon listed consequence for those who are hell-bent on hurting others. And it’s not good. Paul reminded the believers in Rome that vengeance belongs to God alone. The risen Christ is fully capable of handling hateful, hurtful people.

Certainly, there are situations where we are able to track down the source of the lies and confront them. No doubt, we’ve all, at one time or another, been saddled with that awkward task. But, that is the exception; not the rule. Because, most often, the “source” from which the gossip originated is ghost-like and efforts to find them is a complete waste of time, not to mention emotionally exhausting.

Solomon, although far from a perfect man, was, at one time the Bible tells us, the wisest person on planet earth. Having authored most of a biblical book of poetry called Proverbs, he warns the reader over and over again to be careful about what words come out of our mouths. This particular topic is one of the meta-narratives of the book’s 31 chapters. For example, Proverbs 6:16-19 lists “seven things that are an abomination to the Lord.”Five of the seven are directly related to gossip.

But Solomon offers this sage advice in response to gossip: “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” (26:20) When you stoke a fire it strengthens. When you ignore it – it dies out. The meaning here is clear. Don’t waste your physical and emotional energy trying to “set things straight.” Leave it alone.

And never forget: a person who gossips to you will gossip about you.

Below is a poem I heard a preacher recite a long time ago. It is powerful.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

“My Name is Gossip”

I have no respect for justice, I maim without killing;

I break hearts and I ruin lives; I am cunning and malicious and I gather strength with age;

The more I am quoted the more I am believed; My victims are helpless;
They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name or face;

Tracking me down is impossible; The harder you try the more elusive I become;

I am nobody’s friend; Once I tarnish a reputation it is never the same;

I wreck marriages and I topple governments; I ruin careers and I cause sleepless nights, heartaches, and indigestion; I make innocent people cry on their pillows;

I make headlines….and headaches;

Even my name hisses….my name is Gossip.

You’re a Star! The Movie is “Facebook”. Your role is the Loser.

EVERY PARENT should read this. And then have your teenaged child read it. Although, most teens will say, “It’s not that bad,” I side with the author. It is that bad, writes psychiatrist, Dr. Keith Ablow. (Just ask the teen to give up all social media for an extended period of time and watch their reaction.) Here’s an excerpt, followed by the link:

“A young woman saying “no” to the prom used to be a disappointment you shared with your best buddies. If you lacked self-control or decency, you might call her a name. A young woman saying “no” these days is a social media event that your whole school or several schools might know about. It is an injury not to your healthy ego, but to the thin-walled, explosive blimp of an ego you developed by posting hundreds of photos of yourself on Facebook and Tweeting out your whereabouts to “followers” and thinking you were an incredible combatant—a virtual knight with supernatural powers—on Wartune.”

“Being turned down doesn’t just mean seeing the girl you like at the dance with some other guy; it means getting her Tweets about how happy she supposedly is, seeing her posts about the big night she had and hearing how she Snapchatted all her friends a picture of her corsage. You aren’t just the boy who she turned down; you’re the actor she unwittingly cast in the feature film called Facebook—and you got the role of loser.”

“I have said it before and will say it, again, here: Cocaine is nothing as a toxic force, compared to Facebook and other techno-teen drugs. It isn’t even a contest.”

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/04/26/new-drama-adolescence-and-connecticut-teen-senseless-death/

My Name is Gossip

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” “With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor….” (Matthew 12:36; Prov. 11:9)

We live in a society – both Christian and non-Christian – obsessed with a desire “to know the inside scoop.” Pastor, Greg Laurie, once said in a sermon, “The old saying goes, ‘Good news travels fast.’ I submit to you that bad news travels faster….[in fact], ‘A lie is half-way around the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on.”

The running joke among churches is that Christians don’t gossip – they share “prayer requests.”

Read Romans 1:28-31, and you’ll find “gossip” included in a list of sins that includes murder.

So, although it may not show up in our “bad sin list,” it shows up in God’s.

In addition, in the somewhat-familiar “Six things the Lord hates” passage in Proverb 6:16-19, four of the six, by implication, are related to the sin of gossip.

In the late 1980’s, the Gaither Vocal Band sang a song called, “The Rumormill.” Here’s an excerpt:

“The people that work there are all volunteers; The only qualification is a mouth and two big ears. If a story’s not clear enough, that’s okay! They’ll just doctor it up and then send it on its way. It doesn’t matter who’s involved or who it’s gonna hurt, As long as folks are listenin’ they’ll keep shovelin’ dirt at…The Rumormill.”

Don’t be fooled: a person who will gossip to you will also gossip about you. Paul warned Timothy, “Avoid godless chatter [GR: empty, fruitless discussion], because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. (2 Tim. 2:16-17a, 23)

I don’t know the author of the following poem. But, it bears sharing here.

“My Name is Gossip”

I have no respect for justice, I maim without killing;
I break hearts and I ruin lives;
I am cunning and malicious and I gather strength with age;
The more I am quoted the more I am believed;
My victims are helpless;
They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name or face;
Tracking me down is impossible; The harder you try the more elusive I become;
I am nobody’s friend; Once I tarnish a reputation it is never the same;
I wreck marriages and I topple governments;
I ruin careers and I cause sleepless nights, heartaches, and indigestion;
I make innocent people cry on their pillows;
I make headlines….and headaches;
Even my name hisses….my name is Gossip.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick