I’ve been thinking a lot lately about avoidance. Trying to avoid the chocolate calling for me in the pantry. Avoiding too much screen time. Germs. Crowds. The scale. Overextending. Traffic. Snakes and spiders. The news. Avoiding staying up too late because I just can’t seem to put the book down.
What I’ve slowly come to realize is most of these are physical aggravators. Oh, indulgence in any of them can affect my emotions, possibly even harm me. Yet while we tend to focus on external things we should avoid, most of us are missing a huge aspect of our spiritual well-being.
The Bible lists a whole bunch of things we are to avoid. And yes, much of it includes destructive people.
This concept has always made me a bit uneasy. I mean, aren’t believers supposed to be kind? Forgiving? Gentle? Yes, absolutely. Yet we are also supposed to be defenders of truth. And we should never confuse kindness with being nice.
Nice means to be pleasing and agreeable. The problem is when we’re overly nice, we’re simply agreeing with another’s behavior. We write a silent pass on their words, their attitudes, their treatment of others. We may think we’re being peace makers, but we’re actually peace keepers…too afraid to confront a harmful person with loving truth.
Among the things the Bible tells us to avoid—those who cause divisions (Romans 16:17-18), every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22), those who frequently hurt others (2 Timothy 4:14-15)—one of the most frequent admonitions is to avoid gossips.
“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.” ~Proverbs 20:19
Verse after verse pops up about the danger of gossip, both in participating in it and being around those who do it. Why do so many of us love to talk about others?
- To feel superior
- Out of boredom
- To feel included
- For attention
- Too concerned with being considered ‘nice’ to confront the one who starts the gossip
It’s interesting to note that scientific research has determined that people who participate in gossip, whether instigating it or listening, have very high levels of anxiety. They are often not well liked because of their negativity and the inability to be trusted.
“My idea of keeping a secret is telling one person at a time.” ~Mark Lowery
We are who we hang out with. Bad company corrupts good character and all that jazz. What many of us forget is that if someone is willing to talk to you about another, they will also talk about you.
Gossip doesn’t always include malicious whispers and innuendo. It’s about breaking another’s trust. It can masquerade as news, conversation, or even prayer requests but boiled down, gossip is refusing to cover someone, their mistakes and faults, with love. Worst of all, it steals a person’s reputation. When you participate in gossip, you’re inadvertently destroying something valuable—the treasure of a good name.
If we really want to be like Christ, we need to forget about being nice, and instead focus on being loving. Speaking truth, protecting those made in the image of Jesus, refusing to participate in activities that destroy lives.
Starting today, I’m launching the 30 Day Drop the Gossip Challenge. Follow me on my Facebook page or Instagram and you’ll receive a verse to meditate on each day. You may be surprised how much time we all spend talking about others instead of encouraging those around us. Sin always corrupts. Always destroys. And gossip is no different.
It’s time to avoid something new. Are you ready to take the 30 Day Drop the Gossip Challenge?