So much damage can be done with our tongues. Benjamin Franklin had it right when he wrote, “Man‘s tongue is soft and bone doth lack: yet a stroke therewith may break a man’s back. “How often do we go around “breaking man’s backs,” thoughtlessly by gossip and backbiting. To some it comes so natural that they have forgotten what God really thinks about it. Some gossip in the guise of helping others, some do it out of a deep wound from the past, some just because they enjoy it. There isn’t any of us that haven’t done it at one time or another.
Perhaps it’s time for us all to reacquaint ourselves with what God’s word says about it. The Bible doesn’t mince words with regards to this damaging behavior. In Proverbs 6 verses 16-19 (NIV) there are a few forms of backbiting and gossip listed among the seven things that are DETESTABLE to the Lord…16 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness that pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
Those are powerful words! God not only doesn’t like these behaviors, He DETESTS them. This alone should cause us to really examine ourselves and how much we have allowed this behavior into our lives. Often we develop a habit of gossip/backbiting because when we first do it there are no immediate ramifications. In fact, often other people really enjoy hearing it! For some people hearing negative words about another help them to feel more comfortable about their own lives. By bashing others they somehow feel superior. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a believer, it is a behavior that can block are relationship with God if we continue to participate in it. As with all deliberate sin, eventually the guilt begins to put a wedge between God and ourselves in our prayer life. We know we have participated in something we have no business doing and with that comes shame and when unconfessed, up goes the wall of guilt. On top of this, if you are gossiping and backbiting about others you are not doing what God has called us to do and that is to intercede on their behalf!
Ephesians 4:29 NIV 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Ephesians 4:31 NIV 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
Ephesians 23:1NIV23 “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.
1Peter 2:1NIV Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.
James 4:11NIV 11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister (fellow believers) or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.
Proverbs10:18NIV18 Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool.
and finally wonderful advise to all of us…Ephesians 4:29NIV29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
We need to not only read these verses but hide them in our hearts and NOT sin against them. If we do, our personal witness will grow and the church body as a whole will become the place of healing people need it to be. There is enough tearing down in the world. If it has been part of our lives we need to confess it as sin and ask God to forgive us and to change our hearts.
As the church, we are called to edify and encourage one another. Let’s start today!