“You will be gossiped about. If it has not happened yet, get ready, because someday you will find yourself in the cross-hairs of gossip,” writes Matt Mitchell, pastor of Lanse Evangelical Free Church. “Sadly,” he continues, “most of the time you will not know that you are a target of someone’s harmful words. Perniciously, gossip is done behind our backs, when we are not looking, when we are not listening and when we are not present.” Responding to gossip in a godly manner is hard enough when you know who the gossips are and what they are saying.
Respond in Faith
In Psalm 140:1-2, we see David taking his situation to the Lord first. Sadly, when we are gossiped about, we (myself included!) typically “take things into our own hands. We complain about those who are complaining about us. And we run around attempting to set the record straight.” This only makes matters worse.
In contrast, we can take it to the Lord in prayer. When we take our pain to the Lord, we can tell it like it is, not minimizing the intensity of the hurt. But we also remember who we are talking to when we pray. We know that God is the ultimate judge, and nothing – in the end – will ever escape his righteous judgment. Therefore, we can ask God for justice and believe that He will eventually answer.
Respond in Love
Of all the commands given to us by Jesus, perhaps loving our enemies is the most difficult to carry out, to know how to obey. This difficulty is intensified a million times over when the person who has become your functional enemy was once a friend. “When someone gossips about you, he or she is acting as your enemy. That person may not be your enemy in any official way. He or she may, in fact, be your closest friend. But at the moment when bad news is being spread behind your back out of a bad heart, the person doing the spreading is acting as your enemy.” To love our enemy is to act like God who loved us while we were yet His enemies (Romans 5:8). But how? How do you love your enemy, especially if he or she refuses to talk to you?
When we choose to love our enemies, and always seek reconciliation, the Bible promises us a great reward (1 Pet. 3:9). May the Lord grant us the faith and love we need in order to learn how to respond to gossip!