I finally had the chance to see Sarah Jakes Roberts this week! Oh, and of course the devil wanted to keep me away, but in my leggings and tee I had on all day I walked on in. No, no, no…Sarah’s outfit changes, the Atlanta fashion scene known as black church folk, and the embarrassment of my dirty tennies couldn’t keep me away from a WORD! Sarah read from Revelation, talked about dragons, had folks crying, screaming and hollering, but a smaller portion of her sermon was my big take away. I realized this week through embarrassment, conviction, and disgust in me what I hope will become true change.
Sarah said early on that night “we can’t ask God to bless us when we curse people in the same breath”. Instantly, I was smacked in the face. She was talking directly to me. I so easily am seen as Christian Christie, but the way I talk it’s like I’m nothing but an Envious Eve. So let me tell you how God fixed this horrible sin of gossip in me!
One of my closest friends told me something in confidence about a friend of hers years ago. She was telling me based on content and not malicious intent. I had met this friend, hung out a few times and thought she was a gorgeous, fun girl… nothing more because I didn’t know her well. Fast forward some years, and my friend’s friend begins to date a guy from my hometown. I decide to repeat that secret to another person in my hometown and it gets back to said guy. (I’m telling you of three characters in this story, but know at least seven or so are really in this drama.) People from Knox are talking about this woman and they don’t know her, many may never meet her, and the words they are spewing are awful. A destructive fire of gossip blew up for days and I was the one who provided the fuel. I ask myself why? I would love to connect it to one of my insecurities, to jealousy, or sadly even to boredom, but there is NO excuse. I sinned, and sin always affects someone. This sin particularly cut deep. I can’t even account of how many relationships it severed.
It wasn’t my place, it wasn’t my business, and there was no gain in sharing the secret. Yet and still, I did….and because of that I hurt many friends. James 3:6 says, “And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” (NLT)
It’s so common for Jesus following bloggers to focus on sex, money, music, or other hot topics. But the Bible is literally telling us that our own speech is a world of wickedness. Not a small area, not a potential pot, but the words from our mouths can destructively destroy. Words can be from hell. That’s scary!
I am hoping a thought of where you’ve repeated something you shouldn’t have is also haunting you as you read this. I may be the only horrible one here, but if you are recalling a gossip girl moment, also recall the harm. You may see it as small, and perhaps things didn’t blow up as big as they did for me this week, but Proverbs says life and death is in the power of the tongue. Many times this verse is quoted to speak positively about self. But ask yourself if harmful words can harm our own future, can’t they also harm anyone we speak about?
My challenge from this confession is trifold. ( I’m challenging you and myself)
- Gossip isn’t a pastime, it’s sinful
- There are many gifts, but edification and encouragement is a skill anyone can obtain
- If it were you being torn down by someone’s tongue, unable to defend yourself, how would you feel?