Over the past week or so I have been thinking more about words. I have sensed a conviction in my heart not only about the words I speak but also the words I hear. I know gossip is wrong. But you know what? So is listening to it. Recently, as I tried to encourage someone I love who has been hurt and disappointed because of gossip, the following verse came to mind: Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want junk like that in your belly? (Proverbs 18:8 the message)
It hurts people to find out that those they esteem, especially in the Lord, talk about people. We have no idea the damage that is done to hearts and lives with conversations we think are no big deal. I am certainly not innocent. Over the years I have experienced first-hand the heavy residue gossip leaves on your soul. I have been a gossiper and I have been gossiped about.
Lately, I have been specifically asking God to guard my ears and my mouth. See, the ears part is key! You may not have the desire to talk about people or share sensitive information, but it can be really hard to guard your ears. To say: You know what, I care about you but I just don’t think I need to hear this. It will change my thoughts about that person when I see them and I don’t want that. We must realize that sometimes we are taking extra weight not intended for us into our “backpacks” when we unzip our hearts for information God does not mean for us to have. There are times we share because there is a sincere need for prayer, but hopefully only after truly seeking God. If we are honest, however, we know that we share things we should not in the disguise of a prayer request because we are itching to death to talk about it. I get it. Really. And I am only writing because for days this has been on my heart. I just don’t want the junk in my belly anymore.
Check this out: Rash language cuts and maims, but there is healing in the words of the wise. (Proverbs 12:18 the message) This one comes quickly to mind and heart for me because God uses it to deal with me about the way I speak to my family. You most likely have been on the receiving end of words that cut and maimed you. Wounded you. And sadly, when we hear rash and cutting language spoken to us or about us, we in turn spew words that cut and maim others. My mother used to tell me “hurting people hurt people.” When I was younger I wanted to let that be an exuse for myself or an out when I needed to set hard but healthy boundaries with others. It’s a fact that most raging people were raged at themselves. It helps to understand but we cannot stop there. We can’t stop there because healing for our wounded heart is possible. We can’t stop there because if we don’t let Jesus heal us we will pass on this habit of hurt to the next generation. If there is anything that pushes me to let Jesus confront me, deal with me, change me and heal me, it is the clear and present danger of cutting the little hearts in my home. Maiming them. Setting them back. Giving them a hard hill to climb before they even have the chance to take off in life. Adding my weight to their lives and making it so much harder for them to fly.
Scary and bold to declare…but I want to draw a new line in the sands of my life. If Jesus wants me to know something about someone so I can truly pray, I can check my heart for the “weight of yuck” that comes when it’s none of my businenss or not my burden to bear. We are deceiving ourselves if we think sharing sensitive information about others in the name of prayer is okay when we truly don’t spend time praying. And there is really no question information shared in confidence is not ours to disperse. God is not a gossiper. All His Words bring healing. And ours can too when we let Him heal our own hearts and the root beneath our need to speak words that are unkind, judgemental and accusatory. We can let Holy Spirit be the guard of our ears and mouths. We can lovingly learn to turn off the word spicket in others before the flow really gets going. It’s all about Love. Goodness, Jesus loves people.
We aren’t going to be perfect with our words. But we can ask forgiveness when we gossip. We can grow and learn as Jesus-followers to let Him lead our thoughts and words about people. Our words truly reflect what is happening in our own hearts. I pray more and more lately that God will give me His perspective, His eyes and His ears. That I will see others the way He sees them.
The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil. (Proverbs 15:28 NIV)