Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.
Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Read: Psalm 94, Ruth 3:14-4:6, and 1 Timothy 5:9-16
St. Paul writes that the younger widows “learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle, but gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.” (v. 13). Wow, that is strong, isn’t it?
We are all guilty of that from time to time, whether we are widowed or not, young or old, idle or busy. Gossip hurts others, rips apart families, friendships, communities, and churches, and brings in worry and anger and bitterness. Gossip is a noxious weed that can never be given a chance to root. Gossip never brings about good, only evil.
When faced with gossip, it is easy to just listen in to the juicy details. Of course, then we want to go and tell someone else – usually several someones. And so it grows. With each telling details get twisted, omitted, or invented (whether by mistake or intention, it doesn’t matter), and people end up deeply hurt by it. Most of the time the issue is something that could be easily fixed with a simple telephone call or visit. Instead of giving each other the benefit of the doubt and believing the best about the other person, we choose to ascribe evil to their intentions and then go and tell all we know – even when we know nothing at all.
The best response is always to respond with love, believing the best in people unless we know for an absolute fact otherwise. An old friend once said, “My father taught me that a man is not a murderer unless you saw him kill someone, and a woman is not a thief unless you catch her stealing.” What she meant was that we should believe that others are innocent unless we have solid proof to the contrary.
When a friend comes to us with juicy gossip, the best response is to pray with the gossiper for the person in question immediately. It feels weird to pray over the telephone at first, but God certainly does hear that prayer. Stop whatever is going on and pray grace and love for the person in question, and grace and understanding for the gossiper and yourself. Then do not repeat it, but let it be closed.
Some people have a bad habit of gossiping. We love them by not fueling the gossip mill. We don’t give them things they can then twist and turn around. We don’t allow them to tell us their stories. Rest assured, if a person is gossiping to you, he or she is bound to be gossiping about you. Every time gossip is encountered, respond with prayer.
In really bad cases, it might be necessary to offer to go with the gossiper to the person in question and talk about it together. This helps destroy the triangle, get things into the open, and let the air be cleared. Gossip is usually based on a degree of truth, which is what makes it believable, but once the lies are spoken they can be corrected. Praying together and agreeing that the matter will be forgiven and forgotten closes the wound and allows the damage to be healed.
Take some time to pray about this. Have you carried gossip? Is it a bad habit? How should you change so that you no longer do that? What do you need to do to help heal the hurt that gossip causes? Write your own prayer.