WHAT GOSSIP IS
Though the word “gossip” does not appear in the Bible, the concept does.
Gossip is called TALEBEARING (Lev. 19:16; Prov. 11:13; 18:8; 20:19; 26:20-22) and BACKBITING (Psa. 15:3), which is talking to others about the intimate details of people’s lives for injurious purposes.
Gossip is called being a “BUSYBODY IN OTHER MEN’S MATTERS” (1 Pet. 4:5). This means putting one’s nose in other people’s affairs which are none of my business.
Gossip is called “SLANDER” (Num. 14:36, 37; 2 Sam. 19:27; Prov. 10:18; Jer. 9:4-6; Rom. 3:8; 1 Tim. 3:11). This means to say false things about people, especially with the objective of hurting them. For something to be slanderous, it must involve deceit and falsehood and an injurious motive. To spread rumors about someone in an attempt to hurt that person is wicked gossip. We must be extremely careful about passing along things that we hear. If there is any question about the truthfulness of something, it is essential to verify it from someone who is in a position to know the matter.
Gossip is called “TATTLING” (1 Tim. 5:13). This means to prattle on about other people’s lives when it is none of one’s business and when one has no godly motive for such talk, to gossip).
God’s people must guard themselves vigilantly against these sins. Gossip is extremely damaging. In fact, gossip can destroy a preacher’s effectiveness and can ruin an entire church.
WHAT GOSSIP IS NOT
It is very important, though, not to confuse gossip with legitimate Christian endeavors.
SPEAKING TRUTH TO PROPER PARTIES FOR A GODLY PURPOSE IS NOT GOSSIP
It is not wrong to share truthful things with those who have a right to such information.
For example, it was not gossip for the household of Chloe to tell Paul about the problems in the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:11). As the founder of that church, Paul had a right to know about those problems, and the household of Chloe were not telling him these things to hurt the Lord’s work but to help it. It is not gossip to talk to a pastor or Sunday School teacher or deacon about matters in church members’ lives that they should know about. It is not gossip to talk to a father or mother about matters affecting their children.
It was not gossip for Paul to remind Timothy that the Cretians had a poor national character which he described in such harsh-sounding terms as “liars, evil beasts, slow bellies” (Titus 1:12). What Paul said about the Cretians (quoting one of their own poets) was true, and his motive was not to hurt them but to help them (“that they may be sound in the faith” Titus 1:13) and to further the work of Christ in Crete.
It is not wrong for a Christian to warn another person about a serious problem in a church or organization, so long as the information is true and the motive is not to hurt but to help and to warn. Oftentimes I have warned people about serious problems with certain churches that I have known about. That is not gossip and it is not slander.
It is not gossip to speak the truth in love, regardless of how harsh the truth might sound.
QUESTIONING A PREACHER’S TEACHING IS NOT GOSSIP
It is also not wrong to question a pastor in a humble and godly manner and to test his teaching by the Scriptures. In fact, we have a responsibility before God to do that. That is not gossip and it is not wrong. Of course, we always must guard our hearts that we don’t become bitter and that we don’t develop a bad attitude and then try to hurt the pastor or the church by spreading things around the church membership or community.
We must also use wisdom about such matters. For example, it is not usually wise and proper to question a pastor publicly about some perceived error or problem. It is best handled in private, at least at first.
That being said, the bottom line is that it is not wrong to question a pastor’s teaching. Acts 17:11; 1 Thess. 5:21; and 1 Cor. 14:29 settle that. Pastors have much authority, but they are not popes and they are not to be followed blindly. Their authority is the Word of God, and if they veer from that they have no authority and should be corrected. And yet many godly Christians have been branded as gossips and troublemakers when they have attempted to question something the preacher taught. All too many pastors have wrongly defined “gossip” as saying anything negative about him and his preaching, and they create this false definition in order to manipulate the church members and to make them fearful of questioning anything he does. This is not right and does not create a wholesome New Testament church atmosphere. The pastor must remember that he not to lord it over God’s people. “Neither as being lords over Gods heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3). According to this passage, the pastor needs to be more concerned about providing a godly example to the flock than lording it over them. This does not mean, of course, that the pastor does not have more authority than others in church. He does have authority (Heb. 13:17). What we are referring to here is the abuse of that authority. Even the Apostle Paul, who had greater authority than any pastor today, said, “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand” (2 Cor. 1:24).
WARNING OF SIN AND ERROR IS NOT GOSSIP
Marking false teachers and warning about compromisers is not gossip or slander. Paul warned of false teachers and compromisers by name no less than ten times in 1 and 2 Timothy alone. If a church leader publicly teaches error or commits a serious sin that would disqualify him or otherwise does something that people should be warned about, it is not gossip or slander for men of God to describe the problem publicly. I have often been charged with being a slanderer or a busybody when I have named men such as Billy Graham or Jerry Falwell or James Dobson and have warned about their errors. Actually I have the right and responsibility as a preacher to mark those who depart from the Word of God. I do not have to get their permission to do so, and I do not have to approach them first. If their error is public and persistent, my responsibility is to warn of them publicly, just as Paul did in regard to Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim. 1:20), Phygellus and Hermogenes (2 Tim. 1:15), Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Tim. 2:17), Demas (2 Tim. 4:10), and Alexander the coppersmith (2 Tim. 4:14-15). Slander is spreading ill founded, untrue things about others with the intent to injure them. Warning about error in Christian charity for the sake of protecting God’s people from that error is not slander nor is it gossip.
ADMONISHING ONE ANOTHER IS NOT GOSSIP
Romans 15:14 says, “And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.” Christians have an obligation to admonish one another to serve the Lord. This involves watching over one another and exhorting one another about things that would hinder our walk with Christ (Heb. 3:13; 10:24, 25). This ministry should not be confused with gossip. In some churches, though, this is exactly what happens. If a mature church member attempts to admonish and correct other church members, he or she can be labeled as a gossip and a troublemaker and a busybody in other men’s affairs. Admonishing others requires maturity and godliness (Rom. 15:14), but it is a legitimate duty of mature church members. It is not something that is to be left strictly to the pastor. Titus 2:3-5 describes how older women in the church are to teach and admonish younger women. I have known of churches, though, in which older women have gotten into trouble for attempting to exercise this ministry in a godly and scriptural manner. They were told that it was strictly up to the pastor to correct and disciple younger women about their personal lives and homes, but that is certainly not what the Bible says. There is a ministry of correction that is to be exercised by church members. I recall a situation in a church in which a young man was admonished by some mature church members to quit his job at a wicked movie theater for the sake of his own spiritual wellbeing and for the sake of other young people in the church who were watching his example. When he refused to follow this counsel and he quit the church in a huff, those who admonished him from the Word of God were branded as the troublemakers. In fact, they were exercising the legitimate biblical ministry of admonition among church members.
These examples illustrate that it is necessary to make a clear biblical distinction between gossip and legitimate Christian endeavors.
What’s Wrong with Gossip?
Everyone likes a good story, right? Well, not necessarily. What about the person the story is about? Does that person like the story? Probably not. Spreading rumors only hurts others and destroys our credibility. Who is going to trust us with anything when they think we’ll tell everyone else?
Gossip is also a way we judge others, which really isn’t our job. God is in charge of judging people, not us. Gossip really only ends up creating greed, hate, envy, murder.
Gossip is also a sign that we are not really active in our faith and in our lives. If you think about it, the busier we are, the less time we have to gossip. We no longer have the time to get wrapped up in someone else’s life. Gossip is bred out of boredom. It may start as a simple conversation about people, and then escalates quickly. The Bible clearly tells us to do more than discuss other people’s lives.
Leviticus 19:16 – “Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.” (NIV)
Proverbs 11:13 – “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” (NIV)
Romans 1:29 – “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips.” (NIV)
1 Timothy 5:13 – “Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.” (NIV)
Matthew 7:1 – “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (NIV)
Proverbs 18:8 – “The words of gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.” (NIV)
So What Do I Do About Gossip?
First, if you catch yourself falling into gossip – stop. If you don’t passon the gossip there is nowhere for it to go. This includes gossip magazines and television. While it may not seem as “sinful” to read those magazines, you are contributing to gossip.
Also, when you are faced with a statement that may or may not be gossip, check out the facts. For instance, if you hear someone has an eating disorder, go to the person. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to the person yourself, and the rumor is something serious, you may want to go to a parent, pastor, or youth leader. Getting someone to help in a serious situation is not gossip as long as the information stays with you and the person you go to for help.
If you want to avoid gossip, focus on creating helpful and encouraging statements. Let the gossip and end with you and remember the Golden Rule – if you don’t want people to gossip about you, then don’t participate in gossip.
Proverbs 26:20 – “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.” (NIV)
Deuteronomy 13:14 – “Then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly.” (NIV)
Matthew 7:12 – “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (NIV)
Ephesians 4:29 – “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.” (NIV)
Taken From http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/whatisgossip.htm and http://christianteens.about.com/od/whatthebiblesaysabout/f/gossip.htm
Friday, February 23, 2007
Are You Born Again?
by J. C. Ryle
Are you born again? This is one of life's most important questions. Jesus Christ said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).
It is not enough to reply, "I belong to the church; I suppose I'm a Christian." Thousands of nominal Christians show none of the signs of being born again which the Scriptures have given us—many listed in the First Epistle of John.
No Habitual Sinning
First of all, John wrote: "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin" (I John 3:9). "Whosoever is born of God sinneth not" (5:18).
A person who has been born again, or regenerated, does not habitually commit sin. He no longer sins with his heart and will and whole inclination. There was probably a time when he did not think about whether his actions were sinful or not, and he did not always feel grieved after doing evil. There was no quarrel between him and sin; they were friends. But the true Christian hates sin, flees from it, fights against it, considers it his greatest plague, resents the burden of its presence, mourns when he falls under its influence, and longs to be completely delivered from it. Sin no longer pleases him, nor is it even a matter of indifference to him; it has become a horrible thing which he hates. However, he cannot eliminate its presence within him.
If he said that he had no sin, he would be lying (I John 1:8). But he can say that he hates sin and that the great desire of his soul is not to commit sin at all. He cannot prevent bad thoughts from entering his mind, or shortcomings, omissions, and defects from appealing in both his words and his actions. He knows that "in many things we offend all" (James 3:2). But he can truly say, in the sight of God, that these things cause him grief and sorrow and that his whole nature does not consent to them. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?
Believing in Christ
Second, John wrote: "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (I John 5:1).
A man who is born again, or regenerated, believes that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour who can pardon his soul, that He is the divine person appointed by God the Father for this very purpose, and beside Him there is no Saviour at all. In himself he sees nothing but unworthiness. But he has full confidence in Christ, and trusting in Him, he believes that his sins are all forgiven. He believes that, because he has accepted Christ's finished work and death on the cross, he is considered righteous in God's sight, and he may look forward to death and judgment without alarm.
He may have fears and doubts. He may sometimes tell you that he feels as if he had no faith at all. But ask him if he is willing to trust in anything instead of Christ, and see what he will say. Ask him if he will rest his hope of eternal life on his own goodness, his own works, his prayers, his minister, or his church, and listen to his reply. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?
Third, John wrote: "Every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him" (I John 2:29).
The man who is born again, or regenerated, is a holy man. He endeavors to live according to God's will, to do the things that please God and to avoid the things that God hates. He wishes to continually look to Christ as his example as well as his Saviour and to prove himself to be Christ's friend by doing whatever He commands. He knows he is not perfect. He is painfully aware of his indwelling corruption. He finds an evil principle within himself that is constantly warring against grace and trying to draw him away from God. But he does not consent to it, though he cannot prevent its presence.
Though he may sometimes feel so low that he questions whether or not he is a Christian at all, he will be able to say with John Newton, "I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am." What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?
Loving Other Christians
Fourth, John wrote: "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren" (I John 3:14).
A man who is born again has a special love for all true disciples of Christ. Like his Father in heaven, he loves all men with a great general love, but he has a special love for those who share his faith in Christ. Like his Lord and Saviour, he loves the worst of sinners and could weep over them; but he has a peculiar love for those who are believers. He is never so much at home as when he is in their company.
He feels they are all members of the same family. They are his fellow soldiers, fighting against the same enemy. They are his fellow travelers, journeying along the same road. He understands them, and they understand him. They may be very different from himself in many ways—in rank, in station and in wealth. But that does not matter. They are his Father's sons and daughters and he cannot help loving them. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?
Overcoming the World
Fifth, John wrote: "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world" (I John 5:4).
A man who is born again does not use the world's opinion as his standard of right and wrong. He does not mind going against the world's ways, ideas and customs. What men think or say no longer concerns him. He overcomes the love of the world. He finds no pleasure in things which seem to bring happiness to most people. To him they seem foolish and unworthy of an immortal being.
He loves God's praise more than man's praise. He fears offending God more than offending man. It is unimportant to him whether he is blamed or praised; his first aim is to please God. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?
Keeping Oneself Pure
Sixth, John wrote: "He that is begotten of God keepeth himself' (I John 5:18).
A man who is born again is careful of his own soul. He tries not only to avoid sin but also to avoid everything which may lead to it. He is careful about the company he keeps. He knows that evil communications corrupt the heart and that evil is more catching than good, just as disease is more infectious than health. He is careful about the use of his time; his chief desire is to spend it profitable.
He desires to live like a soldier in an enemy country—to wear his armor continually and to be prepared for temptation. He is diligent to be watchful, humble, prayerful man. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?
These are the six great marks of a born again Christian.
There is a vast difference in the depth and distinctness of these marks in different people. In some they are faint and hardly noticeable. In others they are bold, plain and unmistakable, so anyone may read them. Some of these marks are more visible than others in each individual. Seldom are all equally evident in any one person.
But still, after every allowance, here we find boldly painted six marks of being born of God.
How should we react to these things? We can logically come to only one conclusion—only those who are born again have these six characteristics, and those who do not have these marks are not born again. This seems to be the conclusion to which the apostle intended us to come. Do you have these characteristics? Are you born again?
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
To Everything there is a season, and a time
These verses from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 were not new to me. In secondary school, I had joined the school choir, and we had ever sung the song "To everything there is a season" arranged by my conductor. However, this song didn't leave a very strong impression on me.
This arrangement of the biblical verses into song came to me while I was in army camp. I was asking God daily, why after so much consistant and persistant prayer, my prayers were still not answered. I was praying for the salvation of my friends, for my friends to be convicted by God's word and accept Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. For many years, I had continually witnessed to the people around me, but I think i was showing no fruits. Being discouraged, I was thinking God was ignoring my prayers because i was too sinful or something...
Then one afternoon, as I was doing my quiet time, I stumbled upon these verses from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. As i read through it, a tune was also going through my head... Although some of the Words didn't fit well in the song, but after some alterations here and there, using some words from my ex-conductor's arrangement, I finally managed to piece together my own arrangement of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
It was as though God through a song was giving me an answer to my questions i had been asking him. The question was :"How long O lord, will it take for my friends to accept Christ? Will they ever believe in Jesus? " The answer was "Be Patient - To everything there is a season, and a time, For every purpose under the heaven's, there is a time appointed for all things that happen. In God's own perfect will" ... How better could God have answered than give me a song? I'm thankful to God for his reply because now I have another song to encourage me.
The Lyrics are as follows:
To everything there is a season (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
To everything there is a season,
To everything there is a time,
To every purpose under heaven,
There is a season; There is a time.
A time to live, a time to die;
A time to plant, a time for harvest;
To kill and heal; To wreck and build;
There is a season; There is a time.
A time to cry, a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, a time to dance;
A time to cast away, to bring together;
To be embraced, and to refrain.
A time to find and lose; To keep and give
To tear apart, to mend together;
To keep silent, and to speak;
To love and hate; For war and peace.
To everything there is a season,
To everything there is a time,
To every purpose under heaven,
There is a season; There is a time.
The Actual verses from the bible are:
- To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
- A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
- A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
- A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
- A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.
- A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
- A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
- A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
A bit of extra information:
ECCLESIASTES: This, in general, is a pessimistic book -- with statements that history merely repeats itself and nothing is new, and there is no reason to think of what might have been.
Ecclesiastes states that people should enjoy themselves and the fruits of their labors. The pessimism is most pronounced when considering man and animals returning to dust, and not knowing where their spirits go (Ecclesiastes 3:18-21). A few other points:
- "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless." (Ecclesiastes 5:10).
- "... to accept his lot and be happy in his work -- this is a gift of God..." (Ecclesiastes 5:19-20)
- "Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite (i.e., dreaming). This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind." (Ecclesiastes 6:9).
- On predestination: "Whatever exists has already been named, and what man is has been known; no man can contend with One who is stronger than he (i.e., can fight with God)." (Ecclesiastes 6:10)
- "...the day of death better than the day of birth." (Ecclesiastes 7:1)
- "...all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun...man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it." (Ecclesiastes 8:17)
- "Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good." (Ecclesiastes 9:18).
- "Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap (i.e, if you want perfection, you won't do anything.)." (Ecclesiastes 11:4).
- "As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things." (Ecclesiastes 11:5)
- "...the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
Sunday, February 18, 2007