"I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast towards you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you, you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Okay, so I know this series is supposed to be about who you are in Christ, but I want to slightly take the focus of who you are and talk about your neighbor- your friend - your enemy - your brother.
Last week, I was placed in a tough situation. I was eating a meal with a few other girls. The thing was, they were gossiping and saying unkind things about some other girls who weren't present. They went on for about ten minutes, and I sat there, silent.
First of all, I want to just say that gossiping is wrong. Ephesians 4:29 says to "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Gossip is corrupting talk. It pulls people apart - friends, family, best friends and acquaintances alike. Nothing good can come out of gossip - sin - and when you gossip, all you're doing is giving word to the devil. What I mean by that is that when you gossip or say anything unkind, you are letting Satan speak DEATH to those around you, and yourself, through your words. Maybe it's not directly to that person, and maybe they never hear it, but it's poison to those who hear it. It makes them think differently of the subject of gossip, or makes them suspicious of him/her. Gossip is poison. End of story. Don't do it.
However, that day, it wasn't just the girls' fault. It was also mine. I stayed silent, even though I knew I should've said something. I had some ideas as for what to say, but, like usual, fear took over (I almost said my fear, but let me clarify something to you all: that fear is not yours or mine. It's a weapon the devil uses against us and it is not something that you can't get rid of! It's not yours, so get away from it! Rebuke it in the name of Jesus!), and I said nothing. James 4:17 says, "If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them." Ooooof. I knew it was right and good to speak up for the person subject of the gossip, but I didn't. And because I said nothing, I sinned.
What could I have said in that kind of situation? Well, I talked with my mom after, and she gave me some advice, which I'll share with you. I also added some of my own.
Okay, so your friends are gossiping about someone. You can:
- Vouch for the targeted person: share some good stuff about them, tell them the truth about that person
- Change the subject
- Say, "You know, if you don't have something good to say, don't say it at all, please."
- Say, "Please stop. That's not true, and even if it is, we don't want to hear it. Thank you."
- Say, "You know, I struggle with that, too. She's/he's not perfect, but neither are we!"
- Confront the gossip and rebuke it for what it is. While yes, you should always be gentle, sometimes you need to be more stern so they know that your no means no.
And if none of those work, just walk away. Don't become a part of it. Leave it there and pray for them to realize what they're doing.
So what does this have to do with who we are in Christ - or who they are? Well, when you have a good understanding of who you are, it helps you see others in a clearer light. You are fearfully and wonderfully made - so are they. You are loved - so are they. You are broken and need encouragement - so are they. You have a heart - so do they! When I got home after that night, I was upset and was also a little shocked that one of the girls would speak like that. I had thought highly of them, and now I was confused. I didn't want to be around them anymore.
But then the Holy Spirit reminded me of something: they have a heart, too. People that are insecure are more likely to speak negatively of others. Maybe they had a bad week and needed to vent on someone - though that doesn't make gossiping okay. They're every bit as human as I am, and they need grace, too. They need someone who will love them despite their flaws (we all have flaws!) and someone who will help them see their fault.
Don't let your view of mankind be limited to who you think you are. Let it expand and grow to everyone around you. Every single human alive, every single human (not a fetus, that baby has a heartbeat and has a unalienable right to live) in the womb - they are created in God's image, Christians and non-Christians alike. Mark 12:31 says "The second [commandment] is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." You must love everyone equally, but how can you do that if you don't love yourself? And when I say love yourself, I don't mean idolize yourself, or put yourself first. But don't you forgive yourself when you make a mistake quicker than if someone else does it to you? Don't you let things slide when you do them yourself? Don't you give grace and patience to yourself? So why shouldn't you do that to others?
However, it all ties back and starts with how you see yourself. If you see yourself as ugly, hopeless, and all things bad- that's how you're going to see others. Or, you're going to see everyone as so much better than you and you'll form grudges. You need to know who you are - and then you need to know who she is, who he is. Love them because they are made in God's image, and God wouldn't turn them away, so you shouldn't, either. Who is she?
She is loved. She is made in God's image. She deserves to be saved just as much as you do, to receive love and encouragement just as much as you. You are equals, not lower, not higher. Love them like you believe it - and I hope you do.
"I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart;
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"I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all of my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds."