“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”
Let’s face it, certain Christians talk bad about other Christians all the time. The ones who ignore the Holy Spirit’s guidance on a very high level, the sin of the flesh can get a sick thrill from gossiping about other believers. They’ll even candy-coat it by saying, “I just want you to know this so you can pray for them.”
But at other times, they don’t even do that. They gossip blatantly. And on certain occasions, they’re even quick to rip into a fellow Christian while having lunch after church.
For years, sadly, I participated in this incorrect type of Christianity. “Oh if you only knew this about them! Some Christian they are! I bet they aren’t even saved!”
The devil works up a pretty good demonic lather in-between Christians who gossip horrendously.
No Christian should be talking bad about another Christian, even if what’s being said is true. The Bible says, “love covers a multitude of sins,” and if we are using our love to cover the sins of others we are “loving them deeply” (see 1 Peter 4:8). But sometimes what Christians are so rudely gossiping about isn’t even true–and at other times, it’s even about you! When this happens and we get hurt, we have a decision to make:
- Let it bother us, scramble trying to fix it, and then retaliate.
- Decide to forgive, beforehand, and think of your accusers with love.
For most of my life I chose number one. I allowed myself to be bothered by something that I have absolutely no control over, gossip. As soon as I found out that a rumor was spreading about me, fear and anger would immediately grip my mind. What’s really unfortunate is that a lot of times rumors begin through close loved ones, friends, church members or family members–even self-centered spouses who care very little about their vows.
“Oh I’ll show them! You do NOT mess with me!” would be the first thing which popped into my unrenewed mind. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this was the power of sin and Satan using Christians against me. He wanted me to think of them with hate, and unfortunately the flesh gave him his way quite often. The good news is, now that I’ve grown in the knowledge of God’s grace, I recognize this idiot’s tricks as soon as he starts in on me–even when he’s trying to use Christians against me. The battle, however, is spiritual, not physical. People are not my problem. The quicker I focus in on this truth, the quicker I can enjoy peace.
When I first began to allow the Holy Spirit to guide me, regularly, I can specifically remember an incident in which I was fuming over what another Christian had said about me. I shouted out to Jesus, “You just don’t understand! Why would you let this happen to me?! I’m trying to listen to you and do the right things, but these people still hate me!”
In my heart, I heard, “Now you understand what I went through for you.”
“…Okay…alright Jesus…you got me. Now I get it.”
My friends, this is part of it. This is part of growing in Christ! When you begin to allow Jesus to live through you, you will be talked about terribly–by other Christians. Maybe they misunderstand you, maybe they are jealous, maybe you are stepping on their legalistic view of God and they are intimidated–whatever it may be, attacks are headed your way so be ready to forgive ahead of time.
If I could soften the blow for you it would be through this lesson I’ve learned: begin to understand that people’s opinion of you is none of your business. This will take practice through the Spirit, and through being your true self. It’s like Grandma used to say, “Matthew, just worry about yourself and don’t worry about what others are saying. Instead, worry about your own reactions. That’s all God expects of us anyway.”
When we really break this down, people have every right in the world to bad-mouth you, but at the same time, you have every right in the world to react how the Holy Spirit wants you to react. We can’t live our lives getting upset about what we can’t control, if we do, then we won’t be able to enjoy our God-given purposes. In turn, our lives will be terribly frustrating.
Friend, the devil is not excited about your faith in Jesus so he will break out the big guns from time to time. Begin to recognize that! Sure, there will be plenty of Christians who are following the Holy Spirit’s lead, those who love you, and those who want to help and encourage you. But there will always be certain Christians who will not like you, no matter what you do–so don’t worry about that!
The devil knows which people to use “the best” in order to get at you the best. He’s been studying your life from conception and this whole time he’s been trying to steal your joy, he’s been trying to kill you, and he’s also been trying to destroy all things good in your life (see John 10:10). So when he tempts someone to gossip about you, he’s not always going to pick someone whose personal opinion you don’t care anything about. Oh no, he tempts the people whom you want to like you the most.
Satan whispers into the minds of extremely close loved ones, relatives, co-workers, in-laws, pastors, teachers, coaches, neighbors—you name it. He doesn’t only tempt Christians with hate and murder but also with gossip; and God sees all three–hate, murder, and gossip–the same (see Romans 1:29).
Friend, don’t let gossip bother you! Honestly, who gives a crap about what they say?! Never place your value, identity, or joy into anything you can’t control! If you don’t do this, you will become a slave to the opinion of others! You will then live a life of anxiety, frustration, fear, and anger.
So choose to love, right now! Choose to forgive, right now! Before it even happens, make a decision right now to love and forgive other Christians before they hurt you! That way when it does happen you can react how Jesus reacted when He came under attack:
“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:23)
A prayer for you: God, today I want to thank you for forgiveness and self control. I know that both of these characteristics of mine are fruit of the Spirit, so I thank you. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. Father, so many of these dear readers are dealing with gossip, strife, and lies which have been said about them. Please help them to begin to find their complete identity in what YOU say about them, and NOT in the opinion of others. Even if what’s being said is true–on a fleshly level–help them to stay focused on your voice, your mercy, your love, and your grace! Keep reminding them of who they are in spirit! Lastly, help them to forgive their accusers ahead of time so they can enjoy peace. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 1. Get your copy here!