Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV)
James 4:12: There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? (HCB)
As I was drinking my coffee this morning, I was wandering around different postings on an Internet site. I came across a post that said, “We don’t refer to it as gossiping, we simply consider it sharing our opinions about other people’s life choices”. It was meant to be humorous, and I chuckled and moved on. Later I started thinking about that quote and how true it is in my life. How many times have I shared my opinion about another person’s life choices when I thought they had made the wrong choice? How many times have I shared some information about someone but dressed it in finery by calling it a prayer request? How many times have I justified gossip by telling myself of the importance of letting people know the details of what I heard so we can pray informed (or ill informed) prayers? Am I hiding a tiny spark of glee behind my mask of concern as I ask for prayer? How many times have I laughed at the old joke “if you can’t say something nice about someone, come sit by me”, but then made that joke a major part of my behavior on a daily basis? How many times have I judged someone’s actions without knowing the whole situation? How careful have I been to “share” only with others who would agree with me on the issue? Was I really concerned with building people up and meeting their needs or more interested in character assassination? When I labeled something as a “wrong choice “, was it wrong because it was a choice You didn’t agree with or wrong because it was a choice I didn’t agree with? The first part of James 4:12 says there’s only one lawmaker and judge. Even if I know the facts surrounding someone’s sin, why do I feel it is my job to reveal that sin? James 4:12 goes on to ask “who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:12 in The Message Bible says when I behave that way, I am writing graffiti over your message. Lord, I stand before You, humble and contrite. I could try to explain myself with much stammering and stuttering, but we both know the answers to all of those questions. Lord, I ask that You help me control my sinful tongue and only speak to benefit those who listen.