Is it True, Edifying, or Necessary? (May)

by Samantha Parker

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“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
(Proverbs 16:18)

Many of us have been told “You should never gossip.” “Okay!” we say. But what does gossip look like? Is it something you struggle with? If so, how can you guard against it? I think that most of us don’t realize that we have a problem with gossiping. Sure, we know of people who have that weakness, but we certainly know better. Beware of this attitude! It reveals a big problem – namely, pride.

So what is gossip after all? I had to look it up myself! Gossip is simply passing on unnecessary information. It is idle talk about someone else’s affairs, and often damages their reputation. Gossip typically (but not necessarily) involves details that are not confirmed true. We waste a lot of time that could be used to serve the Lord when we are “busybodies,” namely, the ones who are always trying to get the newest piece of information. (See 2 Thess. 3:6-12) This has been a tendency of mine, but over the years I have realized that I don’t need to know everything. As Paul told the Romans, we are to be wise unto that which is good and innocent concerning evil. (Rom. 16:19; see also 1 Cor. 14:20)

There is a saying that says, “loose lips sink ships.” How true! A few idle and thoughtless words can destroy a friendship or reputation. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise” (Prov. 10:19, Prov. 21:23). “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” (James 1:19) Indeed, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (Prov. 18:21) Note: Not only is death in the power of the tongue, but LIFE is as well! Our words have the amazing ability to build someone up, or to tear them down.

“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”
(Proverbs 14:1)

We get to choose: will we build up our house through encouragement, or tear it down with criticism? Do you want to be a builder? I sure do!

Many times we say things we shouldn’t because we want people to like us. We want others to laugh at our story. These are very self-centered feelings. Gossip is a very selfish thing. Before sharing something about someone else, evaluate your motives. Why are you telling them that story? Do you simply enjoy being the information source? My sister recently came across the following acronym, which reminds us of what we should do whenever we are tempted to gossip. Simply, T.H.I.N.K.!

  • T – Is it true?
  • H – Is it helpful?
  • I – Is it inspiring?
  • N – Is it necessary?
  • K – Is it kind?

Much damage can be done by someone who says a lot of words with very little content. “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.” (Prov. 13:3, Ecc. 10:12-14 ) When we go on and on without talking about anything meaningful we are, quite frankly, fools. Proverbs tells us that the babbling fool will come to ruin. (Prov. 10:8) Our goal should be to edify and encourage one another with our words.

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth,
but that which is good to the use of edifying,
that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
(Ephesians 4:29-32)

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Jesus said: “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.  A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matt. 12:34-35). Guarding our words goes much deeper than simply being careful about what we say. It is a matter of the heart. What is in our heart? What are we allowing ourselves to think about and dwell on? Are we looking down on someone, pridefully thinking that we “know better”? We might try our hardest not to say anything negative or hurtful about “so and so”, but if deep down in our hearts we are thinking hurtful or untrue thoughts, sooner or later they will come out in our words. Out of the abundance of our heart, the mouth speaks! Sure, we never meant to SAY anything negative to anyone about that person, but because that is what we dwelt on, eventually, that is what came out in our words. Make sense?

Let us seek to guard our hearts, and naturally our words will be guarded. Philippians 4:8 tells us,

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue,
and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Sometimes I would much rather meditate and think on untrue things, or unlovely things, or things I would be ashamed to tell anyone else. It is really hard to guard our hearts and thoughts, but God will help us if we simply ask Him. He can help us redirect and refocus our minds back on Him… replacing those wrong thoughts with thoughts that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy.

The solution is not to tape our mouths closed. Sometimes I think, “If only I could keep my mouth shut, I would stay out of so much trouble!” But good clear communication is very important and often lacking in our relationships these days. God gave us the ability to talk for a good reason. There must be a balance in our lives between talking too much, and not talking at all. This is a balance that we cannot obtain on our own. We can’t do anything, even something as basic as taking a breath, in our own strength!

Samantha and RebekahJesus’ own Words come to mind: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.  I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). It takes humility to realize that we desperately need the Lord Jesus. Without Him, we can do nothing! Will you join me, dear sisters, in asking the Lord for strength, wisdom, and grace in this area? Let us echo David in Psalm 141:3: “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart,
be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”
(Psalm 19:14)

Seeking to follow Christ with you,
Samantha {Guest Writer}

P.S. Many thanks to my sister, Rebekah, who kindly allowed me to use her notes and insights on this topic!

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