A few years ago I had a co-worker who regularly came into my office to gossip about all our other colleagues. One day it dawned on me – if she was complaining about every other person in our office, she was most likely talking badly about me too. I wondered what she was saying each time she walked away from me, and I began to not trust her as much.
This prompted me to question what impression I was making on others with my words. While I was not the type to spread lies, rumors, or information about people, I was certainly prone to making little quips about another person behind his or her back. I made these remarks in the name of “stating my opinion.” Heaven forbid I call it what it really was – “gossip.”
I realized I was not loving others in a Christ-like way through my speech. I also feared I was not building up those who listened to my hasty comments and that I was indeed giving them good reason to think I was judging and talking about them in their absence.
Love Others with Christ-Like Hearts and Wisdom
Our God is sovereign, and all of His ways are trustworthy. As His representatives here on earth, we must be trustworthy in everything that we do, particularly with our words.
What does – or doesn’t – come out of our mouths is powerful to show Jesus’ love to others and demonstrate the difference between God’s Kingdom and the world. Non-believers, as well as our Christian brothers and sisters, need to know that we will never disparage them in any way; they can trust us to love them when they are with us and when they are not.
The Bible teaches that our words come from what’s in our hearts (Matthew 15:19). Gossip and other evil remarks stem from hatred and bitterness, from prideful beliefs that our tastes are better than others, and from our insecure habit of putting others down to make ourselves feel better.
Through the Holy Spirit, we should pray fervently to have hearts filled instead with humility (a right view of ourselves, with our confidence coming from Jesus) and with His love. I know from experience that God is capable to answer this prayer.
We should also seek wisdom from the Lord.
God’s wisdom is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, good, merciful, impartial, and sincere (James 3:17). This loving, heavenly wisdom helps us to stop before we say something negative (Proverbs 10:19). We can discern whether a particular comment is beneficial by taking a second to ask ourselves whether it’s really necessary for us to say it.
Encourage Your Listeners
When we talk badly about people, we are not only tearing down the person who’s the subject of the conversation, but also the listener. We are encouraging them to sin by judging and slandering others.
My husband and I try to hold each other accountable in this area (I say “try” because we are by no means perfect – see James 3:2!). While it’s tempting for us to speak negatively about someone to each other, we both try not to for the sake of the other person – we want to spur each other on to be more Godly. We also want to set an example for our children, whose little ears are listening to our conversations and are learning from us what’s acceptable to say.
Ask your family, friends, and co-workers to call you out when you say something wrong. Do everything you can to be trustworthy and loving to others and to truly bless those around you with your speech.
From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom… – Proverbs 10:31