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7 Reasons to Gossip Only with God

Guideposts blogger Bob Hostetler on the wisdom of taking your gossip to  God–and leaving it there.

Why you should gossip only with God

Gossip is a problem. It damages reputations, splits churches, hurts relationships and undermines the influence of the Gospel. And it is often disguised as a “prayer request.”

Gossip is the act of sharing negative information about someone else behind that person’s back—that is, without that person’s knowledge or permission. It may be well-intentioned (usually not) and even true (often not). But if it transgresses the “Golden Rule” (“Do to others what you would have them do to you,” Matthew 7:12, NIV), it is gossip.

There is only one place to go with negative information about others (unless, of course, with permission or if it is life-threatening). There is only one person to whom you can repeat gossip without sinning, and that is not your church, your prayer group, your classmates or even your closest friends. It is God.

Instead of telling someone, “We need to pray for Steve and Hope, who are separating and could be getting a divorce,” take your concern—if that is what it is—to God alone, saying, “Lord, whatever Steve and Hope are going through, please preserve and strengthen their marriage.”

Instead of sharing on a prayer chain, “Please pray for John, who has lost another job,” go to God and ask Him to meet John’s needs, whatever they may be.

Gossiping only to God and no one else has numerous benefits:

1)  It relies on God’s knowledge instead of incomplete and often false information.

2)  It prevents you from betraying a trust or confidence (Proverbs 11:13) since God is utterly trustworthy.

3)  It preserves your reputation. Instead of being known as someone who talks about others behind their backs, you may be known as a wise and circumspect friend.

4)  It has a self-editing effect. Taking rumors and suspicions to God alone will often allow Him to correct your attitude and keep you from sinning.

5)  It can cleanse your motives. If gossiping only to God feels unsatisfying, it may show how unrighteous your “concern” really is. And even if your motives are initially mixed, the Holy Spirit may often turn your “gossip” into genuine, loving concern.

6)  It can draw you closer to God. Even if your praying starts out as gossip, you’re nonetheless spending time with God. And the more you pray, the closer you get.

7)  It may lead to action. When gossip is repeated, even in “prayer” meetings, it often ends there. But when you gossip to God alone, the Holy Spirit will often suggest ways for you to become part of a solution rather than just repeating the problem.

Those are just seven benefits of gossiping only to God; there are certainly many more, including the reputations that aren’t damaged, churches that aren’t split, relationships that aren’t spoiled and the harm that is not done to the influence of the Church and the cause of Christ in the world.

So the next time you are tempted to repeat something negative about someone else, take it to God. . . and leave it there.

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