St. Paul warns the Thessalonian church that they are to aspire to lead a quiet life, minding their own business, working with their own hands, so that they might walk properly toward those who are unbelievers and so that they should not lack in any thing. But what exactly did he mean? And does this have anything to do with us today?
There are people who have a tendency to spend their time going about from house to house stirring up trouble with gossip. In Thessalonika, instead of working a job or helping others, they would time visits for mealtimes so that their host would have to offer them food. They wouldn’t have to buy their own food, because they were being fed at the tables of all the other believers. They would spend their days in idleness and chatter and gossip. Today isn’t much different. Instead of minding our own business and taking care of our own families, we want to go around from listening ear to listening ear, whispering the juicy tidbits we’ve been so clever to find.
Gossip never builds up. It always tears down. Gossip never tells the full story, because gossipers never think to ask the victim any questions. They never think to cut the victims any slack or give them the benefit of the doubt. Instead, gossip assumes the worst of everyone and every thing. And when confronted with the truth, gossipers are so wrapped up in their lies that they think the truth itself is a lie.
Gossip is a hurtful thing. Sometimes we carry gossip without really meaning to. Sometimes we do mean to. We hear a juicy tidbit of information and we just cannot wait to let our best friend in on it. We swear her to secrecy, which makes it all the more juicy for her. So when she goes to tell just one friend, she swears him to secrecy as well.... This never ends well.
Gossip never builds up. It always tears down. Gossip will kill a church faster than anything else. Gossip is, pure and simple, selfishness. It is wanting the best for itself, with absolutely no regard for the feelings of others or the truth behind their stories.
And gossip breaks families apart in anger instead of building them up together in love.
Do you gossip? Be honest – God knows the real answer. Do your conversations build up your fellow believers and family members in love, or do they hurtfully destroy one another? Do you spend more time in gossip than you do taking care of your own business? Take a moment to ask God to show you the answers. Ask him to help you learn to stop gossiping and to speak love. You may find the following prayer helpful:
Merciful God, you have commanded us to put away gossip and idle talk and to build each other up in love: Forgive us where we have failed to be loving to each other, and grant us grace that we might speak words of life and love, that we might bring honor and glory to your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.