Author: Sarah DeLotelle
Matthew 15:18 – Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks
“I really shouldn’t say this…but”, “I love her to death…but”, “I would say this to her face…but.” Do these statements sound familiar? They usually grease the pan for sweet, indulgent morsels of gossip to be shared. What is it about gossip that can be so delectable? Why do the previous statements cause our ears perk up, and our bodies to lean in, eager to inhale the latest buzz?
My sister Melody, once defined gossip as, “sharing negative information about an individual with someone who isn’t a part of the problem or the solution.” Most of us know when we’re gossiping, but do we know why? Gossip can be a habit or addiction, and like most addictions, it’s often the fruit of a deeper deficiency or need. So what motivates us to gossip? What is its immediate reward? What is it that we’re really craving?
Are you craving connection?
How many times has a sleepover, girl’s night, or mom’s playdate turned into a gab session about a mutual friend, co – worker, or leader? Sometimes female bonding occurs over the shared dislike of a person. The sad reality is that when women bond over gossip, sin plays a formative piece in the foundation of their friendship and seeds of mistrust are woven into the very DNA of the relationship.
Friendships thrive in environments of honor. When I witness a woman honoring others with her words, even people she disagrees with or has been wronged by, I know she is someone I can trust with my heart, pain, and joys. Honor paves the way for relational intimacy and a lasting connection.
Are you craving comfort?
Gossip can give the illusion of power when we feel powerless, offer a sense of confidence when we’re plagued with insecurity, and bring momentary alleviation of frustration through “venting.” But in the end, gossip won’t make us more powerful, give us true confidence, or solve our frustrations. Why? Because power doesn’t come from wielding the destructive weapon of verbal defamation, confidence doesn’t stem from diminishing others, and venting to someone before consulting the Holy Spirit can magnify our problem and nurture a victim mentality. In the upside down kingdom of God: power comes through forgiveness, confidence grows through hearing the enamored thoughts of your Maker towards you, and alleviation of frustration comes first from the Holy Spirit.
Are you craving commotion?
Does gossip add that extra spice to your life? Replace it with an empowering thrill: sign up for a half marathon, rediscover an old hobby, or do something that scares you in the best way possible. Choose to talk with your girlfriends about your passions, the things that break your heart, and the dreams God is stirring in you. Changing the world will always be more exciting than tearing people down.
Our Words Are Powerful
Words have a creative and formative power. Proverbs 18:21 says that, “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Think about it, God spoke and the world burst into existence. Mountains crumbled up from the ground, stars burned their way into the sky, and lions leapt onto the African plains. God could have materialized creation in a thousand different ways, but he chose to use words. Perhaps he wanted to teach us something about their power?
Consider the way words can paint a story and aline you with a cause. In The Chronicles Of Narnia: C.S. Lewis led us through a wardrobe and kindled within our hearts a devotion to a lion and a hatred for a witch using nothing more than words. Leaders have swayed multitudes for good and bad armed merely with words. Our words have a creative and formative power. When we talk about an individual we fashion a lens through which they are viewed by others. What you say and listen to about people has a profound effect.
In the end, our words reveal more about us than the people we talk about. When we choose to gossip we may be revealing an unmet need to connect, to be comforted, or for some commotion. When we try to remedy these needs apart from the Lord and his instructions we are headed for destruction and disappointment. So next time “you really shouldn’t say something,” don’t say it. If you really, “love her to death,” honor her with your words. If “you would say it to her face,” then do just that. Because friends say good things behind your back and hard things to your face.
Hi! I’m Sarah DeLotelle and I’m the Women’s Community Life Director at Rising Church in Suwanee, Ga and the creator of The Well. I love reading, writing, and adventuring with my mountain man of a husband Steve and our son Levi Tennessee. I am passionate about seeing the Lord glorified through His fully alive church!