As I sit in a coffee shop taking in the sights and sounds around me, I can’t help but overhear conversations. Many I wish I didn’t…it’s not because they're none of my business (which they aren't), but because all around I hear people gossiping.
Sitting here, I wonder how many of these people are Christians?
It saddens me to think that I cannot pick the Christians out of the crowd, we have blended in with the world so much that our habits and speech do not always clearly identify us as belonging to the King of Kings.
I’m not saying we have to look funny, dress strangely or talk in psalms, but I think there should be something different about us that permits the lost souls in the world to identify us as different. Perhaps one way would be by not spreading rumors, especially wrapped the form of “prayers”.
“I’m only telling you this so you can pray,”
“So and so desperately needs our prayers, did you know…”
“I’m not gossiping, but I need to share this with you so can pray for so and so”.
I’m not saying occasionally these types of statements aren’t necessary, but for the most part isn’t it just a nicer way of spreading gossip? Don’t they just make us feel better about ourselves while we are entertained by conversing on topics that do not bring edification?
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8 NASB
Worse (in my opinion) are the mean spirited words disguised in “jokes”. I wonder how many of us have had our own feelings hurt by others “joking” about some of our flaws?
I know I have. And while I will laugh along with the others, pretending it doesn’t bother me, sometimes it does and sometimes it hurts. I can’t help but think it must hurt others too.
So why do we do these things? Why can’t we control our tongues? Haven’t we all been the recipient of gossip, whether well meaning or otherwise? Haven’t we all read about the Untamable Tongue in the Book of James and felt ashamed of ourselves?
“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” James 3:10 NIV
Even when we believe we are telling a matter to a close friend or confidant, it can spread.
Ecclesiastes 10:20 NIV warns us: “Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird of the air may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say.”
Sitting here, I realize how guilty I am of doing these things. We all are and it saddens me. I am going to endeavor to tame my tongue, to think before I speak and to only provide necessary information if asking for prayer requests. I know I will fail because the Bible warns we all will,
“[B]ut no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” James 3:8 NIV
Knowing this does not give me an excuse to continue hurting others with my careless words, it means I have to ask God for his help so that I can be a light in the world, so that if anyone ever overhears me in a coffee shop they will not have to work so hard to distinguish if I am a Christian.
We are called to be different…but are we acting it? What are some other ways Christians are conforming to the world instead of transforming it?