Friday, January 18, 2013

Watching the Tongue by Martin Wiles

Series: Passing the Ethics Test

He was a prior police officer and a current fellow pastor and good friend, but idle tongues cost him his present position and almost ruined his reputation.

I pastored on one end of town and he on the other. Riding past his church one day, I observed an adage on the marquee denigrating gossip. A red flag shot up. My friend was counseling a woman with marital trouble, and some in the church assumed the worse. Talk continued in spite of his discretion, and he soon felt it best to resign. Fortunately, he had another career to fall back on, but the church suffered needlessly-and so did his reputation.

According to Wikipedia, gossip is “idle talk or rumor about the personal or private affairs of others.” The psalmist declares it leads to failing the ethics test. Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD...Those who refuse to gossip (Psalm 15:3 NLT).

One of my father’s famous sayings was, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” So are idle hands. When I don’t have enough to do-or enough of the proper things to do, I tend to let my eyes, nose and mouth wander in areas that don’t concern me. I become a “spiritual policeman” looking for religious crimes others are committing-or rumored to be committing. Instead of letting God tend to the judging, I ignore the beam in my eye and tend to the speck in someone else’s. 

Gossip destroys friendships, divides churches, damages work atmospheres, and dents other significant relationships. Not everything must be said, and a great deal of what I say would probably be better left unsaid. Let God teach you to think before you speak and when you speak to use language that builds up, encourages and shares truth not rumors. Learn to look for the good in others instead of the questionable.

Prayer: God of mercy and grace, motivate us to use our speech to build others up instead of tear them down.