Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. - James 5:9
Once again, James reminds us not to speak against anyone, for we will be judged by the One who saves and who destroys for every word we speak. This reminder comes so often in scripture because God knows our tendency toward gossip and slander. It’s such a slippery slope that we so easily find ourselves sliding down, even with the best of intentions to stop.
We’re all guilty of it in some measure. We may know others who engage in gossip and slander more than we do, but we all have spoken against a brother at some point - and if we’re being honest, we’ve probably done it fairly recently. Think back, is there a conversation that you have had about someone else while they were not in the room that would have sounded different if that person was standing there? If they were listening to the words you spoke, would that person have thought your words were building them up? Would they have considered you the most loving person that they know as a result of what they heard you say? Because that’s what we’re supposed to be doing - Ephesians 4:29 instructs is, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Our words are supposed to build each other up, they are supposed to bring grace to those who hear. There are so many times my words do not do bring grace. And every time I’m reminded that God hears all of my words, and that He is judging all of my words, I’m convicted that my words need to change.
Just as with any other sin issue, if we want to see true change, if we want transformation in our behavior, we must address the heart issue behind the sin and confess it. There are so many reasons why people gossip or slander another person. Perhaps you have a deep hurt you have not forgiven - forgiveness is the underlying sin issue here that needs to be confessed. Perhaps you are frustrated and venting because someone made a foolish decision you disagree with - control is most likely the sin issue here. Perhaps someone is treating you poorly, and you think you deserve better - pride may be underlying sin issue here. Maybe you just engage in gossip because of the bonding experience you feel with the person you gossip with - you may be struggling with superiority issues or you may be wrestling with fear of man because you long to feel connected.
There are just as many excuses for why people claim their gossip is justified. Perhaps we justify our words because we’re seeking advice, or perhaps we carry a warning about the person. Sometimes, we say we just need to vent, or sometimes we don’t know the person we’re complaining about so they would never hear it. Perhaps you justify your words because you say you would be okay with what you were saying if it was said about you. Be careful. We are told in here that we are not to speak against anyone. It doesn’t say we can speak against someone in certain circumstances, it just says don’t do it.
Remember, we don't live in the big moments of our lives - in the few biggest decisions or most pivotal moments of our lives. No, the reality is that we live in the ten thousand little moments of our days. And it's in those little moments where our character is set because of the moment by moment decision we make. Sin makes us unwilling to extend mercy, unwilling to forgive minor offenses, and self-righteously defensive instead of being ready to confess. But there is grace for these ten thousand little moments, and we enter into that grace simply by asking for it. Trying to think more about what I say in those moments - I want my words to build up and not tear down.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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