When I was twenty-one a friend told me she heard I’d been gossiping and people didn’t trust me. Truth be told, I probably had been. I hadn’t learned yet that some stories weren’t mine to tell and I hadn’t learned who was a trustworthy friend to be a sounding board. I was a young woman, emotionally wrecked on her way to healing, and word vomit was my forte.
That evening though, learning that people were telling other people they didn’t trust me, I hit a new low. I had been on New Believer Cloud 9 and this slammed me back to reality.
After that, I learned to keep my mouth shut.
The wise in heart accept commands,
but a chattering fool comes to ruin.
I was that chattering fool. I complained about everyone, was annoyed by everything, and let leadership (who happened to be best friend) know about it. I was a tattle tale gossiper. Thank the Lord for friends who step up and say “I love you and you’re messing up” because that is how wisdom began to grow in my heart. I took her command.
I shut up, I showed up, and I listened.
This verse speaks likewise to taking direction from authority:
Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
Discipline had been a tricky thing in my life until I was in ministry. I was a “good” kid in terms of the world, so I wasn’t grounded or punished or even harshly talked to by my mom. I don’t really remember being reprimanded after second grade. Which, actually proved to be a disadvantage in adulthood.
I straight up thought I was good enough. My sins in the dark were hidden away from everyone and done mostly against myself so it didn’t matter. Then, my friends showed up to love me and helped me so that would I stop leading others astray (we all know what a vent/hate train looks like–once you start going on about the faults of someone it’s easy for everyone else to jump on board).
At the end of the day, our words are important. Are your words life giving or are they hurting someone?
And, one more quick point because this verse is something I think about a lot:
Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
but the prudent hold their tongues.
I almost did it twice in this blog alone. What’s the “it”? Explain why I sinned. Guess what? The reason I gossiped didn’t matter. The reason I was angry doesn’t give me the right to slander someone.
We are not called to be people who make excuses.
If you were wrong confess it, repent, and move on.
Maybe gossip isn’t your struggle and you’re reading this entire post going “I’m wasting time and this doesn’t even apply to me.” Here’s the deal, I can’t speak for you–I can only speak from my own experience. What I can tell you is that all of this applies to a multitude of sin: substance abuse, sexual sins, lying, coveting, gluttony, pride, and the list goes on and on.
If you’re trying to explain it away… It might be time to confess it and live out James 5:16.
PS: All of this does not apply if you have been a victim of abuse(s) or are currently being victimized. If you are being hurt tell someone, and as a dear friend of mine told me, keep telling people until someone helps you. This devotional is for sin, and my sweet brothers and sisters, being abused is not a sin and you do not deserve it. Seek help.
Guardian Angel Domestic Violence Hotline: (815)729-1228
Guardian Angel Sexual Assault Hotline: (815) 730-8984
Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN): 1-800-656-4673
(If you Google RAINN they even have an online chat!)
Adult Abuse Hotline (for Elder Abuse): (800) 222-8000