While I usually write to all mankind, I want to address this article to members of the Lord’s church. Yes, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this is for us.
Stop and think for a moment, how much damage does gossip make to the church? A simple definition of gossip is “rumor or report of an intimate nature”. Now let us read what intimate means, “marked by a warm friendship developing through long association”. How many long Christian friendships have been broken because of one “simple” gossip? How many reputations have been affected because of that little thing we “heard” about brother X?
Let us read, together, this portion of the Scriptures, words that came out of the mouth of Jesus,
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican”Matthew 18:15-17, KJV.
How many problems in our congregations would be solved if sister A, instead of going to all the members and let them know about how offended she is by Sister B and what she did, just go to Sister B and talk about what she considers to be a fault from her?
The words of our Lord are very simple to understand, but, I will try my best to make them easier to understand with this example. You come to me to tell me about something brother X is doing. Before you tell me more, I stop you, and ask you, “Did you talk with him about this before talking with anyone else about it?” If your answer is yes, then I will ask, “Why are you coming to tell me about it instead of inviting me and/or someone else to go and talk with both parts and know both versions of the history?” It might be that it is just a misunderstanding on your part, and a problem that can be easily solved. Now, if you are right, if brother X is doing something wrong, if you already spoke with him about it and he does not repent nor apologize, if you went with one or more witnesses who did not know anything about the issue before meeting with him and he does not repent nor apologize, then, it is the moment to start gossiping with the entire congregation, right? No, that is not what the Lord says, what He said is “take it unto the church”. No, we do not go to each member of the congregation, separately, and let them know what happened. We go to the elders or leaders of the congregation, to make this announcement public, to all the congregation, while brother X is present, why? Seeking for his repentance based on the concern and love all of the congregation has toward him. That is the way of doing this, not gossiping so brother X finds, usually too late, about something that could be fixed earlier if the offended one gets to talk with him first. If he is guilty of all charges, and all this process is followed, then, sadly, is when we must let him go as a heathen man. Not before. Nowhere does our Lord authorize us to gossip or murmur about this.
Many of us know that the Old Testament was written for our learning, for our admonition, and how things that are recorded there serve as examples to us of things to do and not to do. One of the passages that affirm this is 1 Corinthians 10:11, but I want us to read the verse before that one, “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer” (1 Corinthians 10:10).
Dear brother, dear sister, I love you, and I hope you love me too. I do not want you to be destroyed, neither I want to be destroyed. Let us not murmur, nor gossip. Let us seek to live in peace, and let us get in touch and talk with a brother or sister who offended us first, before going to anyone else. Let us stop this chain of gossip that has hurt so big the church of our Lord.
Will you talk to me, privately, if I ever offend you? I hope you do, and I will hear you, and will thank you for coming to me before going to anyone else. If I already offended you, and we have not talk yet, please let me know, I will love to be in peace with you. Let us be the Christians God wants and expects us to be. To Him be all glory.
May God bless you and your family richly today and always.