Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Posts tagged ‘gossip’

Warning: Toxic Waste

This blog is the seventh in a series on healthy relationships.  What would you say are the ten most important teachings about relationships from God’s Word.  This is another installment in Pastor Tim’s effort to define “The Ten Commandments of Relationship.”

Most of us would never want to live near a landfill where toxic chemicals had been dumped.  We would be afraid that they would leech into the soil, contaminate our neighborhood, and poison our children.  But sometimes we’re not that alert about toxic emotional wastes.  In the name of “friendship,” we allow others to bring all their poisonous emotions and dump them into our hearts.  That’s not smart.

In Philippians 4:6-9, Paul explains that we experience God’s peace when we refuse to worry, but insist on giving thanks.  When we express gratitude for all God has done for us, his peace descends and guards our hearts and minds.  But then the Apostle continues, urging us to fix our thoughts on things that are honorable, right, admirable, lovely, excellent, and worthy of praise.  “Then the God of peace will be with you,” he concludes.

#6: Thou shalt season thy speech with Salt and encourage they friends to do the same.  Today a friend of mine confessed he’s just about to boycott news broadcasts and political advertising for a while.  There are so many negative political commercials on the air at the moment that you can hardly turn on the TV or radio without being bombarded with rage.  Why allow gossip, fraudulent charges, half truths and complete untruths to drain all your joy and create doubts and suspicions about someone you hardly know?  It’s crazy!  Don’t let politicians do that to you.  But don’t let friends and acquaintances do it to you either.

Anyone has the right to share a personal frustration with a friend.  Sometimes your friend can give you advice.  On other occasions, he may simply motivate you to keep moving in the right direction.  And there are even occasions when a good friend has the ability to fix something that has troubled you for days or weeks.  That’s called problem solving.

  • That’s not the same thing as Dumping.  It’s dumping when someone regularly comes to you just to unload frustration, anger and unhappiness that have resulted from the course of life.  Dumping is bad for the listener because it brings poison into the listening life.  And it’s bad for the person doing the talking because it creates and reinforces self-destructive behavior that makes you unpleasant to be around.  When friends try to make you a dumping ground, say, “Let’s don’t go there.”  Then change the subject.
  • Problem solving is not the same thing as Gossip either.  Gossip is when someone shares information that criticizes, ridicules or makes you think less of another person.  If you have no authority to help the person being criticized, you should simply change the subject.  It’s easy. Just say, “Let’s don’t go there.”

Everybody knows that healthy attitudes are incredibly important.  A great attitude can enable a less talented football team to defeat a more talented squad.  A good attitude can get you through hard times that could otherwise sink your ship.  When you realize what a positive difference it makes to have a positive attitude, why would you ever allow another person to destroy it?

If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about that.  Teach your friends to do the same.  And lift up the cross!


Don’t be a Diplomat

This blog is the sixth in a series on Relationship Rescue.  Have you ever tried to identify the 10 most important New Testament principles for healthy relationship?  Stay tuned as Pastor Tim tries his hand at the Ten Commandments of Healthy Relationship.

#5: Thou shalt not be a coward.  On many occasions, cowardice is spelled d-i-p-l-o-m-a-c-y.  You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?  A friend turns our conversation into a personal attack on a third party.  Maybe I actually realize the charges are untrue.  Or perhaps I simply realize the comments are unfair because the other person isn’t here to defend himself or share a contrasting viewpoint.  But I resolve to be “diplomatic.”  I don’t have to get involved in this sticky wicket.  I can simply sit quietly, pretend I know nothing, and eventually go on with my life.

In Galatians 2:11-14, Paul recalls an incident when Simon Peter somehow got caught up in criticism and hypocrisy.  Peter realized that God was calling Gentiles to become Christians.  As a result, he  used all kinds of social occasions to break bread with non-Jews, dine with them, and look for chances to share the Gospel with them.  But one day when he found himself with some highly respected Jews who were stern and legalistic, Peter decided to be a diplomat for a few days.  He pretended that he agreed with them that Jewish Christians should avoid Gentiles, and should demand that Gentiles must first become Jews before they could become Christians.  This was so phony and so destructive that Paul corrected him for being false and allowing new believers to be injured.

Peter not only knew the truth; he knew this harsh opinion was harmful and destructive to Gentiles who were coming into the Church.  But maybe he wanted to maintain his respectability in the eyes of this out-of-towners, or maybe he just figured he was too busy to get bogged down in this particular controversy.  But Paul wisely concluded that there is something more important than respectability.

Some practical guidelines for dealing with friends:

  • When a friend divulges information about another person that is harmful or destructive, I should reply, “I’m sorry.  Before we continue, let’s clarify: why are you telling me this?”  If there’s nothing I can reasonably do to correct the situation, this is just gossip- even if it happens to be true.
  • When a friend shares a problem he has with another person, I should reply, “Have you spoken to him about this?”  If his answer is no, this is not an effort an reconciliation.  It seems more like an attempt to create interesting conversation.
  • When a Christian friend shares information critical of another person and desires my opinion on how to respond, I should first ask, “Have you prayed about this?”  If the person hasn’t yet spoken to God about these issues, she certainly should not be creating prejudice and suspicion in my mind.  I don’t need to be harsh or rude; just be a Christian adult.

Don’t let people draw you into their sin.  Sometimes silence is golden.  Sometimes it’s just yellow.

Lift up the Cross!

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