Three Ways to Fight a Gossip-Enticed Heart
When I was nine, I dreamed of becoming a detective just like Nancy Drew. My best friend Sarah and I became the self-appointed mystery solvers of our suburban neighborhood. We imagined being the first child detectives to win medals for our shrewd outsmarting of the local "bad guys."
The problem was, nothing sinister ever happened on our boring, predictable street.
We realized that if we wanted any mystery-solving excitement, we'd have to create it for ourselves. So we launched an adventure called "The Mystery of the X." The name was inspired when we noticed a bright orange "X" spray painted on the sidewalk, which we were convinced was a clue that led to the bad-guys' hideout. Our imaginations ran wild. Every person we encountered became a character in our unfolding drama. I vividly recall how skilled Sarah and I were at creating drama—inventing stories, making up clues, and building an alternate reality that was so much better than real life.
Now that I'm an adult, I've realized that we as women don't need to be in a high-school clique or childhood detective club to get sucked into a vortex of social drama. Simply being female makes us susceptible to its magnetic pull.
All too often, if we can't find a good drama to get caught up in, we'll be tempted to create one through strategically positioned words of gossip, dealt out at just the right moment in just the right way. You know, the kind of conversation that starts out with, "Have you ever noticed how so-and-so always does such-and-such? We should really be praying for her."
In 1 Tim. 5:13, Paul warns against gossip-driven femininity: "They go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention." Just think about how perfectly this verse describes the state of affairs in all too many women's social circles!
Drama is destructive. Not only does it waste our time and energy, but it also erodes our intimacy with Christ. We cannot seek our King with an undivided heart if we are consumed with the "he said, she said" drama that swirls around us.
Cultivating a Quiet Spirit
The good news is that God has a refreshingly different pattern upon which we can build our femininity—the incorruptible beauty of a quiet spirit described in 1 Peter 3:4. Have you ever seen a woman who steadfastly minds her own business and exudes a quiet spirit? She finds her delight in Christ instead of in the dramatic human sagas and gossip that may swirl about her. Such a woman is truly a blessing—both to those around her and to the heart of her God.
As I have asked God to build this kind of quiet spirit within me, He has challenged me with three key principles from Scripture:
- Choosing Peace over Drama
We are told in Hebrews 12:14 and Romans 12:18 that we should live at peace with others if at all possible. I've learned that the secret to obeying this command is not allowing my emotions to lead the way in my social interactions. By yielding to His Spirit instead of my emotions, I can refuse to allow gossip into my conversations. By His grace, I can cultivate peace instead of drama, even in challenging relationships.
Instead of gossiping about someone who is irritating you, try praying for that person instead. Even better, say or do something kind to them. Developing this habit requires practice and supernatural grace, but it leads to a peace-filled existence that brings glory to Christ.
2. Minding Our Own Business
First Thessalonians 4:11 exhorts us to "mind our own business." As women, we are often acutely interested in the details of other people's lives. This can be a beautiful thing when submitted to the Spirit of God, helping us show love to others by being a good listener. But our love for knowing details can also lead to trouble if we don't handle it correctly. When we become addicted to hearing all the details of every little saga going all around us, we can easily become the "busybody" warned against in 1 Peter 4:15. When we become a busybody, our focus shifts away from Jesus to the latest drama between this person and that person. Ask God to show you how to be a good listener without becoming a busybody. And remember that social media can often be an inroads into unhealthy drama and gossip if we are not guarded in how we use these mediums.
3. Turning Outward
The same verse that exhorts us to mind our own business also tells us to work with our own hands (1 Thess. 4:11). Working with our own hands by turning outward and serving others is a great cure for drama addiction. When we spend our time and energy on God's priorities, such as serving the Body of Christ, ministering to our families, sharing the gospel, feeding the hungry, practicing hospitality, or fulfilling other specific callings God has placed upon our lives, we won't have the time or interest to participate in gossip or create drama. And we will no longer need human drama in order to find excitement or fulfillment, because we will be experiencing the true adventure of a God-scripted life!
I have come to realize that a Christ-centered life is far more exciting than any contrived human drama. Unlike my childhood "Mystery of the X" adventure, discovering Him knows no end, and it only gets more exciting and intriguing as time goes on.
If you have struggled with getting caught up in drama and gossip, I encourage you to ask for God's enabling grace to choose a different pattern—His pattern. As you submit this area of your life to Him, He can shape you into a beautiful reflection of His nature and help you exchange human drama for the refreshing loveliness of a quiet spirit.
Written by Leslie Ludy
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