How to avoid gossiping and Idle talks, and think godly thoughts about others.
Philippians 4:8 gives us God’s standard for godly thinking: “Whatever things are true… noble.. just…pure…lovely…of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things.”
If your thoughts about others don’t measure up to these biblical guidelines, you must confess them and deal with them as sins. And the sooner, the better!
Agree with your closest friends not to gossip when you get together. Share with them your desire to grow in this area. Tell them about your goals and the parameters you’ve set. And ask them to let you know when you’ve slipped.
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Avoid (or at least be on the alert for) those settings that can easily lend themselves to the gossip (luncheons, parties, showers, and even meetings).
I like, instead, to be with groups of people in a Bible study or in a discipleship setting, where the aim is spiritual growth and exposure to God’s Word and His truths.
Avoid friends who engage in gossip. You’ll find that, unfortunately, there are certain friends who gossip regularly and are even somewhat skillful at drawing others including you into it.
Never name names. I’ll say more about this in a minute when
I repeat it, but it’s a good guideline. Say nothing. And that means to say nothing! If your mouth is closed, it’s hard to gossip.
How can I work at eliminating gossip from my life?
Here are four T’s you might find helpful. I try to abide by them in my everyday speech.
Time: Idle time can create many an opportunity to gossip. So have a schedule that is tight (even to the minute) and keeps you running (even breathlessly).
Then you won’t have time to talk or to gossip or to listen to gossip (see 1 Timothy 5:13).
Telephone: Let your telephone answering machine handle your calls. Then, like an efficient executive, return your calls at 11:30 a.m. and again at 4:30 p.m. (I find that most women are gearing up for lunch or dinner at these times, and often can’t even remember why they called you in the first place!)
Answering your telephone calls in this manner tends to help put you in the driver’s seat of both the amount of time spent talking and the topic of your conversation. Of course, there are those dear souls who will need you to take time to offer your comfort, your word in season (Isaiah 50:4), your sunshine call.
Give them all the time they need. But beware of aimlessly chattering away on the phone! When you talk on the phone, preface your calls with something like, “I have only a minute. How can I help you?”
And don’t initiate too many phone calls. See if there are other ways to communicate and accomplish your goals. That’s one reason I love e-mail. I am able to answer at a time that works well for me, and I can keep the “conversation” short.
I also keep a liberal supply of postcards and note cards on hand so I can write brief words of encouragement to friends or short responses to small matters of business. And if you need to contact all the members of a group or committee to give them a simple reminder of an upcoming meeting or event, you can also ask someone else to make the calls for you.
Talk: When you do talk, don’t do so for long. Do you have one of those little three-minute hourglass-shaped timers filled with sand? If not, you can purchase one at your local kitchen store. If you want, you can even get one for each telephone in your house.
Or, perhaps you have access to another kind of timer. I especially love my husband’s phone-it tells you the length of each and every call…while you are talking. It just keeps right on counting until you hang up.
Now there’s a visual aid worth its price! Whatever method(s) you use, the point is clear-less is best. As the proverb teaches us, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19).
Tarry: You don’t have to try to answer other people’s questions at the time they are asked. If you are busy or in a rush, you can always ask for time to think and pray about things before (and if) you answer. A hasty answer is usually a foolish answer (Proverbs 29:20).
What should I do when others gossip?
1. Leave the scene
In the Old Testament, Joseph showed us vividly how to flee from sin (Genesis 39-12). So flee! Leave the room. Get out. ASAP. Excuse yourself. Go get a breath of fresh air. Make a phone call. Powder your nose.
Just get out even if it’s for a minute. And while you’re out of earshot, shoot up a prayer to God. Ask Him for His wisdom about the best way to handle the situation. Then, perhaps as the figure of the three little monkeys that resided on my grandmother’s mantle demonstrates, you will “Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.”
2. Declare your discomfort and speak up
Say something like, “I’m sorry. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not comfortable with this conversation. Could we please change the subject (or move on with our lesson)?”
3. Guard your facial expressions. Unfortunately, we can “gossip” or plant seeds of doubt or smear someone’s reputation without a word.
How? With our faces and eyes. Who hasn’t wondered when someone rolled their eyes or shook their head, raised their eyebrows in a knowing manner, or grimaced at the mention of another’s name? Be sure you don’t communicate negatively about people in these telltale ways.
4. Be ready with a positive phrase or two
I like to come to the aid of the one being maligned. For instance, I’ll say, “Oh, no! Bless her heart!” “Oh, we must pray for her!” “Oh, she must be suffering!” “Oh, that just couldn’t be true! She’s too kind to do something like that.”
And when I hear someone say, “Don’t tell anyone, but….” I raise my hands and interrupt with, “Well, then don’t tell me!”
And again, say nothing. Enough said!
Use your tongue to glorify God-After all, the tongue was created to glorify the Lord. To gossip and slander is to pervert its use for that which is ungodly.
Nurture a heart of love
I am very certain you know the word “LOVE,” it is so powerful. Perhaps that’s the secret to this. If we love the Lord, love His Word, love His people, love one another, and love His women-then we don’t and won’t gossip.
God calls us as His people to “be…not slanderers” (Titus 2:3), but to love instead. Won’t you look upward, upward to Him, for His help as you follow after this high-but-practical every day calling from Him?