Friday, August 26, 2016
Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart. Proverbs 18:8(NLT)
It was so long ago when I read words that stung, instructed, appalled, and changed me. The words were by Alan Redpath, a pastor and author who wrote, I once formed a mutual encouragement fellowship at a time of stress in one of my pastorates. The members subscribed to a simple formula applied before speaking of any person or subject that was perhaps controversial.
T – Is it TRUE?
H – Is it HELPFUL?
I – Is it INSPIRING?
N – Is it NECESSARY?
K – Is it KIND?[ii]
The meaning, of course, centers on the Biblical criteria for passing information along about someone who is not present to hear the words.
I wish I could play the tapes of all my life’s conversations in an instant, and find that I have never been guilty of gossip. I know that’s not possible. I am as guilty as any of you. But there is one thing I can do about gossip; I can refuse to be part of it in the future. I can squash it whenever it comes my way.
I can ask God to help me tame my tongue. I am one who needs that help.
What do you do when someone is trying to unload some gossip in your direction? Bill Gothard suggests that we should ask five questions before listening to a carrier of an evil report:
1. What is your reason for telling me? Widening the circle of gossip only compounds the problem.
2. Where did you get your information? Refusal to identify the source of information is a sure sign of an evil report.
3. Have you gone to those directly involved? Spirituality is not measured by how well we expose an offender but by how effectively we restore an offender.
4. Have you personally checked out all of the facts? Even facts become distorted when not balanced with other facts or when given with negative motives.
5. Can I quote you if I check this out?
On this last, and most important question, when a person is not willing to have his or her words brought into solving the problem…chances are about 100% they really don’t want to help the person – they really just want to gossip. They’ve got what the Proverb writer called a dainty morsel sunk deep into their heart, and they just can’t wait to feel the power rush of blabbing it all over town.
If you’ve found yourself at times tempted with spreading rumors and gossip, here’s a good way to begin the day, so you can begin to break the habit, pray like this:
Lord, help me guard my tongue this one day;
Help me to bless others with what I say, not curse;
Lord, make me an instrument of peace,
not one who separates brothers and close friends with what I say.
Lord, help me tame my tongue!
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[ii] David L. Olford, ed., A Passion For Preaching, p. 159-160.