I caught myself putting someone down behind their back the other day. It wasn't anything too awful, I didn't reveal anyone's darkest secret. But I spoke poorly of them and it was entirely unnecessary. I wasn't talking to that person's mentor or pastor in an effort to lovingly help them. I was talking to a mutual friend and this acid came out of my mouth.
What did I stand to gain? Nothing. What did my words really say to the friends around me? "You can't trust me, I talk trash behind people's backs!" What might come from these thoughtless words I uttered? Well they might eventually make it back to the friend I belittled. That sort of thing can ruin a good friendship.
I have to agree with the Bible on this one. A person who belittles his neighbor just plain lacks sense. All you are doing is jeopardizing both your friendship with the neighbor if they ever hear about what you said and your friendships with those around you as they get to see what kind of "friend" you really are.
So when your thoughts lead you to somebody else's flaws, mistakes, or gossip, before you open your mouth, STOP and THINK! Don't be senseless. What does the man with understanding do? He remains silent. Did your momma ever tell you "If you don't have something nice to say, then don't say anything at all"? Well, in this case, listen to your momma.
There is no point in belittling someone just because it pops into your head to say. Do what I should have done. Shut your mouth, think of good things to talk about, and change the subject.
Because ultimately you need to understand something. Everybody has issues and problems. But something nobody likes is a slanderer or a gossip. Nobody likes the person who cuts people down behind their backs and spreads their personal business for all to hear about. If you are that kind of person, people may turn to you for the latest news, but don't be fooled. They don't like you and they definitely don't trust you. They only turn to you for the scoop.
And here is another thing to understand, it will only be a matter of time before you mess up. When that time comes, you want understanding friends around you to keep their mouths shut. But if you are always speaking senselessly about others, you may be hard-pressed to find a friend with the decency to do for you what you never did for them.
So, now its time for the painful questions...
Do you gossip? Do you slander?
Even if you don't make a regular habit of it, who was the last person you spoke poorly of?
Why did you do it?
Will you make it right by calling them and apologizing?
Guess what I am doing as soon as I send this devo? I'm going to call my friend up who I spoke poorly of and I'm going to tell him what I said and apologize. Then I'm going to call the people I spoke to about my friend and I'm going to apologize for spreading that acid around them. I'm not telling you because I'm proud of myself, but to show you this is what we need to do when we fail.
While it is absolutely important to not spread gossip about one another, there are times when it is vital for us to speak up. Christians sometimes use prayer requests for so and so as ways to gossip. Don't be that person. However, if a friend or someone you know is living in sin and needs help, then you need to go talk to them in person. If you don't feel you have the kind of relationship with them to do that, then prayerfully choose one person who can actually help them and go tell them. Check your attitude and make sure you do all of this out of love. Now keep in mind, I'm not talking about a one time small mistake. For example, if Billy tells a dirty joke and he normally doesn't do that, then tell him thats not cool but don't go tell anybody. On the other hand, if Billy is hanging out with people who do drugs and you are worried about Billy, then go talk to Billy. If Billy doesn't listen to you or you don't know Billy well enough to talk to him, go and tell the youth pastor what you know and ask him to help Billy. Make sense?