Today’s Reading — Ecclesiastes 7:21,22 — Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. For you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others.
One man of God I know often preaches — If we only would pray as much as we gossip…. We are gossipy people. Most of us engage in gossip to some extent, and yet I think I also observe a nearly universal double standard about gossip. When we hear what others have said about us, we tend to take it in as serious and we are cut to the quick, but when caught in our own words by others, we dismiss our remarks as if they should be just as seriously ignored.
I have said before that the sharpest knife in the devil’s drawer is fear of what other people think and say of us. He wields this knife with surgical precision. We fear what is said about us, but fail to shut our mouths about others. Why? I think the problems starts with our eyes. As soon as we take our eyes off the Lord, we begin to look from person to person. It is a very human habit to compare ourselves to others, and once comparison has entered our minds, our flesh is not far from opining. Jesus confronted this often in his ministry. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” (John 8:7-10)
Every time this story is read, I hear some speculation about what Jesus was writing– instead of hearing the sound of stones dropping. Most of us still carry a bag of stones. Our stone bags bear justifying labels, ranging from he threw the first rock, to I have to defend myself, to It’s my job as a Christian leader. I’m not judging, I’m evaluating. We excuse our bag of rocks when Jesus showed us to drop them and walk away.
I recently had a discussion with a woman of God about how to extract yourself when fellowship turns to gossipship. We decided on three don’t and three do’s. Don’t participate. Don’t sit by idly. Don’t condemn the gossiper. Do interject the Lord’s character into the situation by suggesting what ever the subject of the gossip requires immediate prayer and ask all present to join you in prayer. Most will agree that this is a good idea, or at least they will be reluctant to disagree with praying. Do get on your knees (wherever the conversation is taking place), and Do pray.