We all know gossip is bad from an early age, so why do we still do it? In this message, we look at what the Bible says about gossip and talk through the reasons we gossip, the results of gossip, and the removal of gossip.
All right! Well hey, welcome everybody in the room, everyone up front, all the Porch.Live locations: Indianapolis, North Houston, Tulsa, Scottsdale, Cedar Rapids, Boise, wherever you are, welcome! We are wrapping up this series RIP, Rest in Peace to the Old Me. Well, we have been looking at what it looks like for Christians, those of us who have put our faith in Jesus, to live out the new life.
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 17, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. The moment you trusted in Jesus, you were not made better; you were made new. You were born again. Now the Christian life is living out who God calls us and who God says that we are. So we've been marching through that.
Tonight we're going to wrap up the series and talk about an issue that, candidly, I think I carry the weight of how to convince a room like this of the enormous importance of what we're about to talk about. Before I dive in there, let me invite you into my world. I have a 3-year-old daughter named Monroe. Here's a picture of her. She is just princess for days.
I have my son and another newborn son, but when you have girls the contrast is so stark in that he wants to wrestle, wants to play sports, and wants to punch things. She wants to dress up like a princess and have tea parties. So we have tea parties and we sit down and we walk through. She'll make…
If you have a 3-year-old (this is going somewhere), the tea party doesn't look quite like this one, but it does involve a little miniature set. She'll sit there. She's like, "Daddy, would you like some tea? I'll make you some tea." She'll put in some sugar. She's like, "Would you like some cweam?" Because she doesn't say cream, she says cweam.
Then her older brother comes in, and he is like, "It's cream, Monroe!" I'm like, "I will spank you so hard! She can say cweam until she is 23 if she wants to!" It's the greatest thing ever that she can't do her R's. We'll sit there, and she wants to just do tea parties. Now what does that have to do with what we're talking about tonight?
Well, we're talking about RIP to the subject of gossip. There's an expression that we use as it relates to gossip that is directly related to tea parties. It is spill the tea. The reason it's kind of a genius analogy that people understand is that just like with tea, you have this thing where you sit down.
Historically, tea time traces all the way back to Europe and England and London where people would sit down over a cup of tea. People would get together and discuss the royals and the latest gossip and the latest drama. They would sit there, and even today we embrace the language of, "Oh, that is some boiling hot tea! This is so hot!" or "The tea is brewed, it is fresh, and let me spill it to you."
What do they mean by that? They mean, "Have you heard about what she did? Did you know…? Don't tell anybody else I told you this, but I found out…" We spill the tea and we gossip. We take that and we pass on gossip. Now what could be the problem with that? Well, just like in that situation, if I was to pass on a cup of tea to somebody out there, it inherently depends on what you're consuming.
If it's poisonous, which the Bible says that gossip is, it's going to have some significant consequences for those who take it in. The Bible also says it doesn't just have consequences for those who take it in. It has consequences for those who pour it out. I want to talk about why God says this is such a big deal for the next few minutes.
Before we go there, let me define gossip. In order to do so, I want to go to the fountain of all human wisdom, Urban Dictionary. Urban Dictionary says gossip is "Something nasty people do when they are bored, have no life, or are really stupid. It's nasty because a lot of the time you never hear about it and people are way too PC to admit and are nice to you to your face, but spread nasty gossip behind your back.
And you never know what happened when someone suddenly hates you for no reason or some people start threatening you for no reason. That's because some loser(s) with no life or brain decided to gossip because they're too stupid to have any hobbies, a real social life, or any shred of conscience whatsoever. Gossip is what happens before you get a knife in your back." I don't know who you are clueless_furball, but someone clearly hurt you back in November 2006.
Gossip, even that definition… How great is Urban Dictionary that just anybody can write it up? Everybody gets to play. That is a reflection of clearly somebody who has been hurt by gossip. Now let me give a narrower and accurate concise definition. Gossip is talking negatively or spreading negative information about someone not there.
Gossip is spreading negative information or talking negatively about someone behind their back or not there. In other words, a lot of times people think gossip is not gossip if it's true. Yes, it is. Gossip is talking negatively about someone behind their back who is not a part of the problem or the solution. I'm going to unpack exactly what I mean by that.
This is an issue that as I started, I feel a burden that… Honestly, there are some of you that no matter how hard I plead with how deadly and destructive, if you participate and allow gossip to be a part of your regular life, it's going to be for the rest of your life. God lists out six things that he hates in Proverbs, chapter 6. One of them is directly related to gossip.
In other words, God says, "Let me give you the six things that I hate. One of them is somebody who murders. One of them is somebody who lies." Then he says this in Proverbs 6:16 and 19. "There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him…" Verse 19: "…a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community."
In Romans, chapter 1, the apostle Paul writes out and lists behavioral characteristics of people living in direct rebellion to God. He includes some very fascinating things, the things we would assume, like murder, and he includes gossip. He says this in Romans chapter 1, verse 29 and 30. "They [those living in rebellion to God] are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil…" And he continues the list.
Why would God say it's such a big deal? It's just spilling the tea. It's just catching up. It's just me venting a little bit of what's going on. Why would that be such a bad idea? Because as we're going to see, like few other things, gossip has the ability to destroy relationships, to destroy some of the closest of friendships, to destroy and create toxic work environments, toxic families.
So God writes over and over and over about how when it comes to believers in Jesus, gossiping and talking negatively about someone who is not present is not to be a part of our lives. So I want to walk through quickly in the next 30 minutes the reasons why we gossip, the results of that gossip, and then what Scripture says is the remedy or the way that we remove gossip inside of our life.
Some of you guys are tuning me out right now. This makes up 70 percent of what you talk about. If you were to remove all gossip from your conversations in life today, you would've said like seven words. You would've been like, "It's cold," or "It's hot." It's how you bond at work. It's how you catch up in community.
It is an offense to God. It's something that, candidly, as a bigger brother, I am pleading with you to listen to the instructions that God gives us so that you can experience the type of relationships, unity, and peace that you want in your heart of hearts and so few people experience. So we're going to look at the reasons, the results, and the removal.
So, first, the reasons we gossip. Let me read this proverb from Proverbs 18, verse 8. Proverbs was written 3,000 years ago by the wisest man who ever lived, and he is talking about gossip. "The words of a gossip are like choice morsels…" Or delicious desserts. "…they go down to the inmost parts."
So someone says, "Gossip tastes good." The reason why we gossip is it feels good. There are all kinds of different connecting things to why it feels good. Oftentimes, it's directly related to an insecurity that I have. That I feel better about myself. When I talk negatively about someone who I'm a little bit jealous of or someone who makes me insecure or the fact that I am insecure in general. It's a self-esteem boost for me to put the other person down.
"I can't believe it. Did you see the car that he drives? Did you see the picture she posted on Instagram? She's a great girl, but unbelievable." I'd feel better. Solomon says, "That's because gossip tastes good on the lips, but it's doing something to your soul." It goes down deep and buries into the person who listens to it and who pours it out. All the reasons why we gossip are not good reasons.
Other times, we do it because we've just been hurt. Candidly, some of you guys gossip about people who aren't even the ones who hurt you, but they remind you of somebody who hurt you. So it just feels good to, "I know their type. I know what they're always like." You don't even know them, and yet we gossip.
Other times it's just pride. That I feel more self-righteous if I can identify things in your life that are off because it makes me feel better about myself. All the reasons and all the ways that it makes us feel good have one thing in common: none of them are good or godly. Other times, we just gossip because, "I kind of want to be the person with the insider information, have you known."
That really just reflects that I need the approval of another person. I need affirmation. Solomon says the reason people gossip is it tastes good, it feels good to spill the tea, but it does something deep into your soul. That's what the inner parts he is reflecting are. It's a really brilliant analogy because he says they're like desserts that you eat.
What happens with desserts that you eat? All of these different chocolates, cakes, cookies have one thing in common. They taste amazing. They have another thing in common as well, I guess. That they last a moment on the lips and a lifetime on the hips. Because they stick with you. If you eat them and you consume them, they may taste good for a moment, but they are going to be sticking around, if you will. If you were to eat all of them, it's going to make you sick.
This is Solomon's point. You think you're just consuming the tea and, "Have you heard about her? Did you know that they did this? And they slept together. Can you believe that?" It goes down in a moment, but it goes deep into your soul, and it impacts the way that you see them. It impacts a deep, soul-level to you that it's just a moment on the lips, but it's going to stick. Solomon said it goes deep into the heart of a person.
The second reason the Bible says that you and I gossip is not just because it feels good, even though it leads to toxic stuff being poured into our heart, is Jesus says it's ultimately an issue of the heart. When a person gossips, just like with anything they say, it's not an issue of the mouth; it's an issue of the heart.
He says in Matthew, chapter 15, starting in verse 18, "But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart…" If you have a word problem, you have a heart problem. "…and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander[gossip]."
He says ultimately if somebody is a gossip, they think, "I just need to make sure I don't say that about her. I need to not say that again." Jesus would say, "No, you have a heart problem." When a friend of ours bought their first house as a married couple, they moved in, and they decided they wanted to put French doors in the back of their house.
So they knocked down part of the wall and began to open it up to put these French doors in, or these double doors. When they opened up the walls and they knocked those down, they could see in the walls and they realized they were infested with termites…everywhere. Thousands and thousands of dollars would have to be spent in order to remove the termites because it was literally rotting on the inside.
The picture Jesus gives of somebody who gossips is there is a part inside of their heart that is rotting on the inside. He is going to tell us how to remove that and how he can be a part of removing that, but that's ultimately what it is. You think that you just don't like her because of the thing that she posted or because of the way that you interacted with her.
Ultimately, the reason you don't like her is because she is in a dating relationship, you've been single for a little bit, and you hold that against her. You have jealousy that's in your heart. Or you think that you just don't like him because he was rude or he just puts off a vibe that you don't like. Ultimately, he reminds you of somebody who hurt you or bullied you in your past. He reminds you of maybe some affirmation that you didn't get from parents or something there.
I'm not trying to pick on you. I'm saying Jesus says whenever something is coming out of the mouth, it's coming from the heart. A person who needs to find affirmation or who lives a life and puts people down, talks negatively about them with them not there, has something rotten in their heart. There's a way he prescribes for us to remove that. It comes because it feels good, or Solomon would say it tastes good, and because of an issue in the heart.
Next is the results of gossip. I think this reflects what God is so passionate about. Proverbs, chapter 16, verse 28 says, "A troublemaker plants seeds of strife…" Of conflict. I want you to listen to these next six words. "…gossip separates the best of friends." That Solomon says gossip is such a powerful force that you and that person who is your bestie… I mean we are closer, thick as thieves, ride or die.
Gossip has the potential to get into that relationship and completely erode it to where your best friend and you are no longer even on talking terms. It all happens just through seeds of distrust and "Did you hear?" and "I can't believe." Scriptures say that it has the ability to divide like few other things. I don't know if there's another example in Scripture where it says, "Do you know what can divide the best friends out in the world? This," other than gossip.
God, who is for you and loves you and loves man, wants us to know the results of gossip is broken relationships. You think that you're just talking or you're just speaking off the cuff and you're kind of just flippantly speaking, and it's not that big of a deal. But it has the potential to destroy relationships in your life, because gossip can bring about and separate and divide.
There was a saying in WWII that loose lips sink ships. Basically that saying originated from US and UK or British naval fleets who were trying to prevent German intelligence from listening to Morse code or listening to radio signals and getting ahold of information on the location of different naval carriers or different warships that were out there.
So they would say, "Loose lips sink ships." Be very careful how you communicate because German intelligence could identify and locate. Because you said it out loud, now a torpedo is taking out the boat. The same thing is true today. Loose lips sink ships. They'll sink friendships and relationships that you have the ability with your words to erode and destroy. Maybe it's not any of your friends. It's the friendships and relationships with other people.
The Bible says in so many places we don't even have time that it is gossip that leads to conflict, that leads to arguments, that leads to dysfunction, that leads to disunity. Some of you guys see this every single day at your workplace that are some incredibly toxic environments where people just gossip. "Did you hear? I cannot believe. What are they doing at that happy hour?"
That's an okay thing when it comes to people who don't know God, but for Christians, God says it's not to be tolerated. There's a girl who joined our team about six years ago. She was coming on to basically be a part of an internship program. We were told by somebody, "Hey, this girl is going to join your team for the next year. She lives in Florida. So will you guys reach out?"
So my entire team got in a conference room, and we called her and she didn't answer. So we left a voicemail. It was, "Hey Elena, we're so excited you're going to be on our team. It's going to be awesome. We can't wait for you to be here and move here next month and meet you in person." Done. We began to talk and to joke in a way that, candidly, was not great.
In that we began to go, "I wonder what she is doing? Well, she is in Florida. She is probably on a beach somewhere. She's wearing a bikini, and she is now going to work at a church. She's like, 'Oh, I have a margarita and a bikini. I can't answer this phone call.'" We just began to totally throw this girl under the bus in a joking, playful way, which often is the case.
Then out of nowhere I hear, "To send your message, press one. To erase and re-record, press two." All of us gasped. It was one of those moments where you're like, "I have to make sure I hit two, not one, at the last minute." And I pressed two. "Hey Elena, can't wait to meet you! See you soon!"
I think back on that. Despite the fact that even the intentions were lighthearted, imagine if you had heard that and you were her, how you would feel walking into this new environment where you knew no one. How you would think people think about you even though those thoughts and those words weren't even really accurate, and they certainly weren't fair.
Yet this is what happens all the time when people gossip. It begins to make sense why God is so passionate about, "My people are not to be marked by gossip, by talking negatively about someone who is not there." The second thing it leads to besides broken relationships is a poisoned perspective.
Think about the power of a perspective change that you can have through someone's words to you. If somebody was to find you after the service and say, "Do you know what? I heard David is a real jerk. He is having an affair on his wife." Whether that was true or not, even though it wasn't true, you would leave here and go, "I don't know if I can trust this place. That's messed up that he would be doing that." It would be based off of a lie, gossip. Now you're going, "I don't know if I can trust people who are talking about the Bible."
Watermark is a good example of this. Watermark gets shade thrown at it all the time in just crazy stuff that is said. Tragically if people listen to it, they're going to say, "I'm going to walk away." If you were to go on Yelp and you type in number one cult in Dallas. Do you know what pops up? Watermark.
Let me just say, thank you all for your support in getting us to number one. It wasn't easy, and we kept fighting. Think about that. Think about if somebody actually believed that, and they were like, "They're crazy. They're doing snakes and drinking Kool-Aid. It's just nuts!" They're like, "I'm not going to that church!" It's gossip and it's toxic.
Do you know what's crazy? Those words were not written by somebody who is not a Christian. They aren't atheists out there going, "Oh yeah, you know it's a cult." Those are written by Christians who are hurt for whatever reason and hurt people hurt people. Hurt people God says are called to move toward people and to love people and to listen to people and to care for people and to be united with people. So it leads to a poisoned perspective.
Then finally, it leads to a corruption of your character. Proverbs 11, verses 12 and 13: "A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence." In other words, a gossip is someone who is not worthy of trust. If somebody is gossiping to you, you need to know they will gossip about you.
You may feel like, "No, they wouldn't. We're so close." Yes, they would. They've revealed, according to the Scripture, they're not someone who is trustworthy. It corrupts your character. The Scripture says that the first example of gossip was Satan. Why do I say that? Well, a couple of reasons.
One, the first example of somebody talking bad about someone behind their back was Satan in the garden with Adam and Eve to Eve when they're sitting by a tree. He says, "You know, did God really say don't eat the fruit? Are we sure that he doesn't have some other motive going on and doesn't want to keep good from you? I bet it's because he is holding out. He can't be trusted."
Furthermore, do you know what the Greek word for the devil is in the New Testament, written in Greek? Diabolos…dia-bolos. It's a word that means to cut through. Its Greek translation is slanderer. In other words, you read literature of Aristotle or different people who you read the CliffsNotes for in high school…
You read their work, and the word that they use for slanderer is diabolos, which means dia (to cut through), bolos (to separate). He is the one who comes to separate, to divide, and to create division. Any time we gossip, that is exactly what Satan wants you to do: not talk to people, talk about them, create division, and destroy relationships, which is the result of gossip.
Finally, we have the removal of gossip. How do we remove gossip? First, I think an important aspect of this if you have to be able to recognize it, because for a lot of Christians it's hard to know what's in bounds. What's gossip? When am I gossiping? How do I vent or seek counsel? What am I supposed to do? Can I not talk to anybody about anything? How do I do that?
I want to unpack as best I can some of the aspects of what the Bible says is in bounds and out of bounds. What are the instructions as it relates to gossip? To do so, I'll explain it like this. This past Sunday, I went to a Stars game with my son. It was our first Stars game of all time. There he is hanging out with the puck. He was on cloud nine. He slept with the puck that night, true story.
We're there at the game. He is so pumped. I'd never been to a hockey game before. I don't know. It's not something we did in Houston, where I'm from. So I'm at the game, and they have all these rules. I knew things existed in hockey that I didn't quite understand, but they begin to call these fouls like, "That's offsides." Somebody is yelling, "Icing! Icing!"
I'm like, "What is icing? I know it's not on the cake icing. There's something else going on here." I asked somebody for an explanation of what the different rules are. What's in bounds? What's offsides? What does all that mean? They began to explain. So maybe this is for the person in the room who, like me, doesn't understand the rules to hockey.
Here's what it means to ice. Here's offsides. Offsides is you enter into the offensive zone before they're there. Icing is you hit it all the way down when there's no one there. Who made these rules? I don't know, but what's my point? My point is that in order to play the game, in order to not be in the penalty zone, you have to understand the rules. You have to understand the instructions.
Many Christians don't understand the instructions. So from the Scripture, I want to walk through four principles as it relates to recognizing gossip and removing it. So let me give you a few questions before I give you those four that may help identify, "I think I'm in gossip." Is your conversation with friends about another person intended to prepare you for a productive conversation with that person? If not, it's probably gossip.
If you're seeking counsel from others on how to deal wisely. Because that's the challenge. It's like, "Am I venting? Am I getting counsel? What would you do?" If you're seeking counsel from other people on how to deal wisely, do you attempt as best you can to keep the person's name a secret? If not, it's probably gossip.
Is the tone of your voice and the posture of your heart humble, brokenhearted over sharing another person's sin or do you feel frustration, a need to vent, and even a little bit justified and, "How could they?" If so, it's probably gossip. Finally, are you talking to God about this person more than you're talking to anyone else? If not, it may be gossip. So let me give four steps as it relates to identifying and removing gossip.
First, Christians talk to people, not about people. We talk to people. If you have an offense against someone in your life, in your friendship, and they're a believer, you go to them. You talk to people, not about people. Ephesians chapter 4 says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
I talk to them directly for the purpose of communicating what was done, how I felt, what was hurt for the purpose of building one another up, and strengthening, building that relationship. If I'm talking to somebody else about hurt that I have toward Josiah, I am sinning if I'm not willing to go to my brother and communicate that. Christians talk to people, not about people.
Secondly, we talk only to people who are part of the problem or the solution. You talk only to those who are part of the problem or the solution. If they're not a part of resolving that conflict or resolving and addressing that hurt, then they shouldn't be a part of the conversation. Maybe they're speaking into your life and providing wise counsel, which would mean they're a part of the solution.
I have to make sure that when I'm going and I'm seeking counsel on how to handle things, I'm looking for people who will give me a bigger perspective, not validate what I'm saying. I'm looking for people who will go, "I know that he didn't call you when he said he was going to call you, but perhaps there's something else going on and maybe you should seek more understanding on what happened there."
Not the guy who goes, "Yeah, what a jerk! Unbelievable! He didn't call you? You should delete his number right now!" That's not helpful. I need people and you need people… I can know if it's venting or if I'm getting wise counsel if everything that they say is validating, "Yes!" and it's feeding the fire. We talk to people who are part of the problem and the solution.
Jesus says in Matthew 18, verse 15, you should be very calculated on how you handle dealing with offenses against you. You should be very narrow in the path that you take in terms of approaching it. He says, "If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If they still refuse to listen…" Then widen the circle more to the church. In that context, it would've been akin to a small group. "…if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector."
How did Jesus treat pagans and tax collectors? He loved them. So then you just treat them like, "I'm going to still love you, but I'm calling you and I'm identifying something that collectively we're going, 'This is wrong and this is in sin. We're not going to hold you accountable if you don't want to be held accountable anymore.'" I'm going to go to you, and I'm going to talk with people who are part of the problem or the solution. Jesus says do it privately, repeatedly, and widen the circle only as necessary.
People will say this. I have said it before, and it's wrong. They'll say, "Look, I would say this to their face if they were here." It's still gossip even if you would say it to their face if they were there. So you should not say it when they're not there, and you should go say it to their face when they are. Jesus says we talk to people, not about people. We talk to people who are part of the problem or the solution. If somebody comes to you and shares gossip, you should ask them this question. Why are you telling me this? In fact, let me save that for a second and go to the third one.
Thirdly, we ask forgiveness when we fail. Because there are going to be times where I accidentally brought something up and I said something about Sam or JD. I mentioned a comment. When that happens, I need to pick up the phone or I need to go find them and say, "Hey, I just need you to know, I said this behind your back, and I should've said it to you. Will you please forgive me?" When we fail, we ask for forgiveness, and we will. That's why we need a Savior. That's why Jesus came.
Fourthly, we do not tolerate gossip from other people. This is, perhaps, most broadly important and widely applicable in the entire room. Do you know what gossip always has in common? Two people. If you're listening to gossip, you're gossiping. You don't have the be the dispenser of the tea. If you're consuming it, you're gossiping.
As Christians, we can go, "I'm not going to be safe for your gossip. You can bring that up, and I'm going to ask the question, 'What do you want me to do with that? Do you want to go together and talk to them? Are you asking me to give you some counsel right now? Because I'm not going to sit here and allow this to poison the perspective that I have on that person." Because we don't tolerate gossip.
Titus, chapter 3, verses 10 and 11… We don't have time to go into it, but Paul basically says a divisive person in church has three strikes. Correct them once. Correct him twice. If he doesn't listen, then he shouldn't be a part of the body. In Proverbs, chapter 26, it says, "Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down."
He is basically saying Christians have a responsibility to not start the fire and be like a lighter. We have a responsibility to be like a fire extinguisher. A lot of us in the room, you're not just a lighter. You are like lighter fluid. You are a flamethrower on stuff. You are just stirring it up and, "I can't believe…"
Those of us who want to do what Jesus says have a responsibility when somebody comes to gossip and they say, "Hey, I can't believe this happened." Or, "You're not going to believe what I heard…" Extinguish it. We have to say, "I'm not going to tolerate it." When I came to Watermark, I saw something modeled for the very first time that I honestly had never seen before.
Over a decade ago, I came on staff, and I said a comment one day. It's my first year of work. It's maybe my first month at work. I made a comment about the way somebody was or the way that they had hurt me. The person I was with said, "Hey, let me stop you. Have you told them that?" I said, "No." He said, "Okay, you have 24 hours. If in 24 hours you haven't told them that, then I'm going to tell him that. We're going to go together, and I'm going to make sure that he knows that now I know that he thinks that you've hurt him or you don't care about him in that regard."
It did something really interesting on our staff. It made gossip not safe. Because people began to go, "Oh my gosh, can you believe…? Oh no, oh no. I don't want to go. I don't want to go." People began to go, "I don't want to go do that." In a beautiful, healthy way people began to recognize, "God says gossip is toxic. It's poison. We have a loving responsibility to one another that I'm going to call you and remind you to do that."
So much of your life and my life, sadly, has been lived through the lens of a poisoned perspective. You listened to the words that somebody else said about someone else and you believe that, and now you see them that way. They may not even still see them that way. God says that followers of Christ have been adopted into the family of Jesus.
If people were to talk bad about my children, I would have an emotional response of indignation or anger because, "How dare you talk about my princess daughter like that?" It makes sense when you think God says that you are the sons and daughters of God. Every time you gossip as Christians, you are talking about one the children of God.
What response do you think a good, loving, heavenly Father would have? In conclusion, the reasons we gossip flow from the heart. The results are broken relationships and poisoned perspective. The removal happens one step at a time. There was one occasion (and I'll land the plane here) where Jesus prays something really unique, and he does so when he brings up you.
By that I don't mean he brings up Carl or Kyle. He brings up future believers in the church. He talks about you behind your back. I want to look at what he says. It's in the context of John 17, and he prays. He brings up praying for his disciples, and then he says, "I want to pray for anyone down the road who will ever believe."
Look at what he prays in John 17, verse 20. "I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message." Through the gospel. That's the death and resurrection of Christ. That's anyone who has trusted that Jesus died on the cross for their sin, paid for all of it…past, present, and future. He came back alive, showing the check cleared. Anyone who accepts that message, I want to pray for. That's what he just said. Look at what he prays next.
"I pray that they will all be one [be united] , just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such…" Look at this. "…perfect unity…" Why? "…that the world will know that you sent me [Jesus] and that you love them as much as you love me."
God, would you allow them to be so united together that relationships wouldn't be divided like the Enemy wants to happen? They'd be so united, so for each other, so pursuing each other, so believing the best about each other, so connected together that the world would look on and go, "You guys are so different from everybody else. Everyone else is in conflict. Everyone else is fighting.
Everyone else negatively interprets. Everyone else assumes the worst. Everyone else gossips behind their back. Yet you guys stand out. The only rational explanation is the thing that you have in common, which is Jesus." The world will see the Savior of the world. Gossip, ironically, is the opposite of Christlike love. Gossip is saying, "Now hold their sins against them."
Do you believe that? Do you believe what they did? Jesus says, "I don't hold your sins against you." The gossip says, "I am strong because they are weak." Jesus and Christianity says that as believers in Christ, we get to declare, "I am weak, but my God is strong. Because of that I'm not defined by what people think. I'm not defined by my past mistakes. I'm not going to define you by yours. I'm going to run toward you in love and truth and not gossip, because we rest in peace to gossip." Let me pray.
Father, I thank you that you modeled perfectly. If anyone could've come and shown, pointed out all the sins and the wrongs and the errors of people, it's the perfect Son of God. Yet on this earth you modeled patience, love, and kindness. I pray for anyone in the room who has not had a moment where they stepped into that relationship with you, that first and foremost, above any instructions about gossip, they would receive the gift that you offered.
I pray that you would allow friends here who need to go ask for forgiveness from people because they have gossiped to take that step. I pray for relationships that maybe haven't talked in months or years would be restored and reconciled through the power of your Spirit working and softening hearts and moving people together. I pray that your church would be united and that we would do everything as far as it depends on us to be people who run toward each other in love and speak the truth and not gossip. We worship you now in song. Amen.