“Building Up, Not Tearing Down”
“If [a Christian] sees anything which he approves not, it goes not out of his lips, unless to the person concerned, if happily he may gain his brother. So far is he from making the faults of failings of others the matter of his conversation, that of the absent he never does speak at all, unless he can speak well….”
I love this Spearfish Church. Let me tell you one of the most specific reasons: You have the powerful ability to build others up and not tear them down. You have the ability…and the practice….of avoiding much of the destructive powers of gossip.
Let’s talk about gossip
No church is immune from gossip…and this includes us, but all churches have the same opportunity to control it. This is an invitation to go even deeper on controlling your tongue as an individual.
In 1983 I was a young band director working hard and building new relationships. I especially enjoyed the friendship I was creating with Bill. He was an “old dog” band director who had so much to teach me. Our conversations were great, and then I messed up royally. On one particular day, I had the marvelous opportunity to control my own tongue…and did not. In one specific conversation I began talking about a Bill and one negative aspect of him that I had noticed. I didn’t mean to belittle him. I didn’t mean to slam him. I didn’t mean to tear him down. But in one brief conversation, I succeeded in doing all of those things. I wasn’t careful what I said. And I wasn’t careful in noticing who was in the conversation. I said the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person, and even though I didn’t mean to cause any damage at all, that friendship with Bill ended…permanently… within the week. The gossip circle destroyed it. Although it took a whole string of people to repeat my words, the problem that week was not the gossip circle. The problem was…me. I never should have opened my mouth in the first place.
There’s an old saying: “Too soon old. Too late smart”.
I learned a lot in 1983 about the destructive power of gossip, and…much more importantly…the destructive power of MY participation in gossip..
In the quote at the top of the page, John Wesley was right. It is crucial that we speak well of each other, building up and not tearing down. You remember another old saying that sums this all up: “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.”
We ALL have the opportunity to help control gossip..
The book of James warns us about this in these words: “When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue uses a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is when on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3: 3-6)
Sooooo…the next time you are on Facebook…the next time you are with a group of your friends…the next time you are sitting in the fellowship hall after worship…the next time you are texting and talking on the phone…
Build the other person up. Don’t tear them down.