Friday, May 2, 2008

Gossip and Lies; Power and Righteousness

On two occasions this week I was highly tempted to engage in some pretty scandalous gossip. One was a work situation, the other was with a friend from church.

Thanks be to God, the Holy Spirit rushed in to the rescue and redirected my thoughts and heart to God's Word and to obedience. Which, in retrospect, prompts me to ask about my tempation to gossip: "What lie was I believing instead of God's Truth?"

Well, first off, in the situation where my friend from church was involved, this was clearly my Joan of Arc Complex at work. What, you might ask, is a "Joan of Arc Complex?" Well, I'm not entirely sure that it's an official complex. In fact, I've never heard anyone else use the term besides me. But here's the gist: A compulsion to want to right wrongs, to rescue the oppressed, to avenge injustice. You know, all that heroic stuff. On the surface it actually sounds a lot better than sin, doesn't it? Even possibly the right thing to do. But the subtly of it is that it's a dark sin, in the form of self-righteous indignation.

So, just this week, as I felt my Joan of Arc heart rising up inside me, ready to react, over a particular incident that was being shared with me, the Holy Spirit immediately brought to mind Romans 12:14, 17-21, which I also immediately read to her:
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse…
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.
20 On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

In my experience, this is one of the very hardest things that we as Christians are commanded to do, and as I shared with someone else, it is also the one thing that makes Christians completely unique over every other type of person in the world. Outside of our redemption in Christ, this is impossible and unthinkable.

In the second case, I experienced another temptation. It was on the opposite end of the first temptation of self-righteous indignation. I believe sometimes people resort to using their tongue as a weapon, because they feel powerless over their circumstances. Instead of believing God's Word on how to respond to evil, we try to gain power by using our tongue to control the situation. As we know from James Chapter 3, the tongue can be destructively powerful:
“it is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The 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.”

After all, Satan’s name means “accuser of the brethren,” so there’s really no surprise that he would use gossip as much as he does to create disunity and discord within Christ’s body.

Again, gossip is a form of attack often used by those who are not in power positions, in response to others who have authority. So my question is: why is it that I feel compelled to fulfil my desires by attack instead of obedience? Because I’m not getting what I want and what I want is more important to me in that moment than what God wants. Because I have fear of man instead of fear of God. Because I want to preserve my reputation (LOL! That sounds ridiculous just to write!). Because I think more highly of myself than I ought (Rom 12:3). Because of selfish ambition and vain conceit, etc… (Phil 2:3). On and on.

Gossip is a symptom/manifestation of a lot of idolatrous heart issues.

This week, however, when I denied my temptation and decided to believe and obey God and His Word instead in those two real instances, it had a profound impact in my life, on those around me, and on others involved in the conflict.

Bottom line: I have to trust God’s Word and His Promises more than I trust my desires or the lies that reside beneath my sin. Praise God that His grace super-abounds over our sin, but may the Holy Spirit continue to compel me to trust His Word before I’m tempted to give in to sin and nasty gossip!

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