“By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.” (NKJV 11)
If any of you have ever lived in a small town, you know precisely how true this verse of Scripture can be. Everybody either knows everybody or knows someone else who does. This can be a blessing or a curse depending on the character of the people in said town. The small town feel brings a sense of comfort in raising your children in a safe environment. When tragedy hits close to home, there is nothing like the love of a tight knit community to rally around those in need.
Unfortunately, the door swings the other way too. If you make a mistake in my hometown, you better believe everyone will know it before the sun goes down. Not only that, but some will form their own opinion of how circumstances played out and repeat their distorted version of the truth to anyone who will listen. Proverbs 11 has a description for that kind of person: He who belittles and despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent. (AMP 12)
It is always wise to mind one’s business when the rumors take to spreading like wildfire in a dry forest. This is an area that I often struggle with for myself and my preteen daughter because for whatever reason, it seems as though the females are far more prone to be loose-lipped than our fellas.
Recently, both I and my girl have had our confidence betrayed. I would describe us both as open books. We are not fearful of sharing personal details of our lives when we feel like it may benefit another, even if we don’t know them that well! However, this does at times backfire. In both instances, feelings and struggles were shared in hopes that the one we were reaching out to would see things in a different light. While the way it happened for me was different than it was for my girl, the things we said in private were repeated.
And it hurt. Tears were shed, questions of “why” bounced around and thoughts of wanting to become more closed off were considered. But that’s not who we are. We could easily allow the gossip to make us bitter and harden our hearts toward others, but we choose to turn the other cheek. Part of the calling on both our lives is to encourage hurting people. Hurting people sometimes hurt you. It may be unintentional on their part. They’re hurt, they are acting out of their own pain and that may come out as an attack on you.
The important thing to remember about gossip is that it not only brings pain to the ones you are talking about, it’ll ruin you too. You can’t spread malice about another human being and expect to come out unscathed on the other side. It may also change your perspective if you consider that the ones who gossip with you are likely gossiping about you to someone else.
“A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.” (NLT 13)
*All of the verses above are from different translations of Proverbs 11. The 31 day study continues 🙂