“A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28).
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless” (James 1:26).
“An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue” (Proverbs 17:4).
The clarity of these scriptures cannot be questioned. Our unfettered language will bring insurmountable damage to our lives, relationships, and ministries. Particularly as a woman.
I woefully confess, gossip and slander seem to effortlessly find their way onto my tongue. Controlling that tongue is a battle that is hard to win, perhaps partially because we are given poor recognizance. We often don't know where the true battle must be waged.
In the moralistic church culture we currently find ourselves in the primary focus is on our outward actions rather than on a heart being renewed. We may press forward and exert effort to become more holy, yet, it proves to be fruitless. Our efforts just don't get us far enough.
Sadly, pragmatism happily lends itself to the ladies’ gossip circles… I mean prayer chains. We can contour our slander as skillfully as we do our painted-up faces or prim IG accounts. We masterfully charade our vile words, trying to display a seemingly legitimate concern for another.
I would wager that the underlying issue in our friendships, ladies groups, and social arenas is not so much that Christian women are unaware that gossip and slander are sinful, but rather that our hearts are not being fed the truth.
In the words of Jen Wilkin, one of my favorite women's Bible study teachers, “we become what we behold”. If we are beholding Jesus and seek to honor Him above all else, then the words on our lips will be markedly different than that of our godless peers.
“For it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
My indictments fall heavily on the Bible study teachers, and small group leaders, but that doesn't excuse the believer who holds a Bible in their own language. We all hold some amount of authority or sway (including moms and grandmothers), we must be quick to teach Biblical truths that lead to a transformed heart. A cease and desist note must promptly be served to the moralistic pep-rallies that consume the majority of our women’s studies. Scripture and doctrine need to be consumed and embraced before we even begin to worry about the fragility of our fellow sisters.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6).
Our hearts desperately need to be transformed by God's word, and God has designed that His covenant people would “wound each other faithfully”. Sister to sister, we need to teach and correct each other with the authority given to us in scripture.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
When we do confront someone that is baiting us to engage in gossip or if we refuse to listen to a babbler, that initial cut of our scriptural truths will be shocking and painful. Done in love however, the wound administered is a faithful wound. When we are bold and not ashamed of the truth, God is faithful to work in us and through us.
God's heart for his children is not for us to be tearing each other down with ugly or malicious tales...true or otherwise. His desire is that we join together to build his church and expand His kingdom. That is where our energy should be spent. We are merely unworthy subjects in God's ever-increasing kingdom.
When we begin to destroy and vandalize what He has begun to build, we turn from being humble citizens into villainous anarchists. Gossip may not be commonly viewed as anarchy but in God’s economy, it is tragically cancerous. Those of us that wish to remain friends with the King must be careful not to incite riots in His streets.