(Psalm 101:5) Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate.
*Attention: this is a public service announcement to all Christians.*
My Granny Frances is always giving me really great advice, which always seems to begin with, “Honey…” Most of her advice I remember, verbatim, and it is most useful in every stage of my life. I remember once she said to me, “Honey, if that gal will talk about someone to you, she’s done talked about you to someone else. Drop her like a hot biscuit.” That’s good wisdom. Granny was right. Sometimes you do have to let go of friendships that are shallow because they can damage your witness to others. If someone is a known gossip and backbiter, is that something you want to be associated with in your circle of influence?
There comes a time when social graces have to be put aside and you have to put a muzzle on all of that ugly barking. When someone begins badmouthing another in your presence, or filling your ear with their garbage talk, did you know you can nicely ask them to shut up? Just tell them to quit it and explain yourself. It’s not rude, it’s the right thing to do. In 2 Timothy 3: 1-5, it is written, “1 Understand that the last days will be dangerous times. 2 People will be selfish and love money. They will be the kind of people who brag and who are proud. They will slander others, and they will be disobedient to their parents. They will be ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, contrary, and critical. They will be without self-control and brutal, and they won’t love what is good. 4 They will be people who are disloyal, reckless, and conceited. They will love pleasure instead of loving God. 5 They will look like they are religious but deny God’s power. Avoid people like this.”
So there it is. My mother has always told me, “Some people…well, you just gotta love ‘em from a distance.” This is something that I have learned is invaluable. A social life is nice to have, but not at the expense of my reputation or integrity. You can call it what you will, but I’m guarded and with good reason. I just think it is important to be careful. I have learned the hard way that not everyone is to be trusted with something so valuable as an intimate friendship. Do know, this should never be a hindrance when it comes to loving others the way that Christ did. Think about that for a minute though, wasn’t Jesus careful himself of who he trusted? It all kind of goes back to the old adage, “Choose your friends wisely.” You can love everyone, but not everyone has to be your best friend.
On the other side of the coin, maybe you are the one who gets caught up in the gossip. The tongue is a hard thing to control, and for whatever reason some people really struggle with this more than anything else. Hey, I’m not here to write you off…we all have our own little marbles we slip on from time to time. It could even be that you don’t truly realize what you’re doing. Well here are some signs that maybe this is an area of growth for you.
- You’ve noticed that some friends may have stopped calling and/or texting as often.
- People make excuses to avoid spending time with you, or often cancel plans.
- You complain a LOT.
- You don’t really know what’s going on in the lives of your friends.
- You’re jealous and give back-handed compliments. (“Your haircut makes you look slim.”)
Those are just a few signs that maybe you’re a little toxic and that you’re probably pushing others away with negativity and by stirring up discord amongst others. You know what though? That’s not in God’s plan for your life. He wants us all to have good, lasting friendships that together are His light in the darkness. We can’t do that when we are just little lights that flicker on and off sporadically. We have to guard that flame and keep it burning high and bright!
Finally, let me just say that we are all guilty of biting the occasional back, so to speak. It happens. That’s why Christians need one another though, to lovingly say to our brother or sister, “Hey, that’s not okay.” When we can gently correct wrongdoing and continue on in love, that’s true, godly friendship.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me eyes to see clearly and ears to hear the truth. Help me to lovingly avoid and silence gossip, and give me the boldness to take a stand for what is right. And when I am wrong, when I use my tongue to hurt or to bring dissension, send godly friends my way to shut me up. Help me to be better at loving others in all ways…the best way…Your way. Amen.