Dluxe's World

Friday, March 10

Did you hear? Purple monkey dishwasher?

What is the difference between expressing concern, asking for clarification, or seeking counsel/support re: a problem and engaging in gossip?

I pose the question for three reasons, two of which came up yesterday. To go into one here really would be gossip, so I'll refrain. The other case: Eva mentioned that the women's current study includes the admonition that discussing 'problems at home' shouldn't be used as a chance to gossip re: their husband's faults.

We were chatting about where that dividing line falls... This has occupied all my back-brain cycles since then.

If we are to bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6), then there is some degree of disclosure that needs to happen. You need to know about my struggle to be able to provide counsel and prayer.

In 1 Timothy, Paul links gossiping with being "busybodies, saying what [we] should not." James writes, particularly in chapter 3, about the evils that our tongue can spread... We must watch what we say carefully and guard our hearts. The dividing line is as much about the heart behind (or the tone of) the things we say as it is about the 'facts'. And it's so easy to move from edifying speech to speech that destroys!

For example, some time ago I spent time talking with a man re: troubles in a relationship. As he started to talk things out, it was obvious that he was pouring his heart out and detailing a painful struggle. The longer he talked, however, the tenor of his comments shifted... This was no longer needed information, but instead a series of subtle, hurtful comments aimed at the absent party.

He wasn't talking about the problem or a right/wrong response anymore... We were throwing darts at someone's picture, burning them in effigy.

It strikes me that is the difference: If we're speaking, are we seeking help or are we simply grumbling? If we're the listener, are we learning facts that help us pray and support our friends through crisis or are we being driven/titillated by the thought of knowing something compromising? If we speak of things we've been told, why are we doing that and what is the listener getting out of this?

It's amazing how easily we make the shift from one camp to the other. We should consider carefully the words of James and also Paul's admonishment to the church at Colosse:
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator...

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:5-17, ESV)

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1 Comments:

  • For a long time I thought of gossip as only things that are not true. Then I added to my definition things that are meant to be hurtful. I don't know if that's a precise enough definition.

    Often I'll have friends who call me and "vent" about a situation they're in and talk about family, friends, or acquaintances who've been acting stupid. Now I wonder if that's okay for me to listen to. I don't spread it around (except to my husband, but since we're One Flesh it doesn't count) but has it already gone too far just by me listening to it?

    In a situation like that, should I instead encourage the friend to vent to God and not to me?

    By Blogger Eva, at 7:03 PM, March 10, 2006  

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