When you find conflict in a group (family, church, business, baseball team. . . ) somebody is usually spreading gossip. They think they are doing the right thing (Proverbs 21:2 “Every way of man is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the heart).“Well, its the truth. Somebody needs to be speaking up. IF I feel this way, I’m going to say it. At least I’m honest.”
Rarely do people come up with an original idea. My guess is they’ve heard others, and they’re imitating them.
It might be good to check with:
PARENTS. Parents have speaking rules in their homes. Usually family rules are unconscious, unspoken, but understood. They’re often learned by imitation rather than instruction. If mother or daddy talks about the elders, preachers, song leaders, politicians, friends, associates, or others in a derogatory way, it would be normal for their children to follow their example. “What harm does it do?” A lady was telling about hearing her mother and friends gossip about each other: “Their behavior taught me not to trust anyone – especially people who were nice to my face. Instead, I trusted abusive people because I thought they were being honest. I ended up running with a bad crowd and found myself dating abusive men because I couldn’t trust polite guys.”
PREACHERS. Preachers have been my heroes. But preachers aren’t perfect. If I spend time around a preacher or a group of preachers who are always talking about other preachers, about how ungodly and unfair elders are, and how brethren are mistreating them, it would be easy to imitate their behavior. After all, they’re “good sound, faithful, gospel preachers.” Gossiping preachers teach “the truth” on every issue, except on how to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.
If a person criticizes his child who is a Christian, a good response would be, “What did my son say when you talked with him?” One thing my son resented when he was growing up was a few people “telling on him” when he did something they thought was inappropriate, unwise, or wrong. He said, “Daddy, I’m seventeen years old, 6’ 3” tall. I’ve been a Christian for five years. Why don’t they talk to me first?” Good question, I wish I had had more wisdom and courage then and asked them to follow Jesus instruction.
ELDERS. When elders think their job description is to fix every unhappy person in the church and attend to issues which aren’t their business, they may be examples of how NOT to deal with people the way Jesus taught. A good response when someone tells about someone who mistreated them and want you to fix it is, “What did he say when you talked with him?” If the answer is, “”I haven’t talked to him,” your response might be, “Jesus told me not to talk to him yet. You go first. If you and him agree I might be helpful, I’ll be glad to assist. You first – me second.”
When elders receive complaints about the preacher without holding members accountable for addressing their concerns to the preacher, they’re bypassing Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 18:15. Jesus didn’t say, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone – unless he’s the preacher – then the elders can do your work for you.” The best way for the preacher to understand what a “lot of people are upset about” is for a lot of people to go to him, one at a time, and explain it to him in a spirit of love. The volume of information will make an impression, whether it’s about his preaching, attitude, work ethic, or lack of attention to people who need his help.
REASONS PEOPLE GOSSIP
ITS EASY. It’s easier to talk about somebody than to talk to the person of concern.
MAYBE SOMEONE ELSE WILL GET THE OTHER PERSON STRAIGHTENED OUT. Gossip is often an invitation for someone to talk to the person (s) who is bothering me. If that person can fix it, I won’t have to.
IT’S EXCITING. Watching another “get what’s coming to them” gives people a rush. I may feel better when I can relate how another has done wrong more than I have, according to my accounting.
SOME PEOPLE WHO DON’T GOSSIP LISTEN TO IT. Without gossiping ears, there would be no gossiping tongues.
WHY NOT GOSSIP?
IT’S A SIN. God said not to do it (Leviticus 19:16; Proverbs 26:20-21). Mark 16:16 is red in my Bible. Jesus said it. I want to teach people how to be saved. Matthew 18:15-17 is red in my Bible. Jesus tells us how to address those who have “missed the mark” with us. I am to go to the person who sinned. If that doesn’t work, take one or two more. If that doesn’t change him or me, I should involve more people to help.
IT HELPS NO ONE. Everyone gets hurt.
INDIVIDUALS, CHURCHES, BUSINESSES, AND OTHER GROUPS CANNOT FUNCTION WELL WITH PEOPLE ADDRESSING THEIR CONCERNS TO THE WRONG PEOPLE. Gossip, talebearing divides church, alienates family members, and harms businesses.