The Visitation: What does not happen when Godly women meet
Today is the Gospel of the visitation where St Mary visits St. Elizabeth. When the two holy women met, there was greeting of peace, praise of God, blessing of St. Mary, tons of humble gestures and words, a babe worshiping and the whole occasion is drenched in prayer and praise.
I want to talk of what is not present in this feminine gathering; that is gossip.
Gossip as fire
"20 Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. 21 As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife. 22 The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, And they go down into the inmost body. 23 Fervent lips with a wicked heart Are like earthenware covered with silver dross. 24 He who hates, disguises it with his lips, And lays up deceit within himself; 25 When he speaks kindly, do not believe him, For there are seven abominations in his heart; 26 Though his hatred is covered by deceit, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. 27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him. 28 A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, And a flattering mouth works ruin."
"5Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh."
Gossip is a Character assassination that reflect hatred. It is better to rebuke.
"You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord. You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him"
The difference between a Hypocrite and righteous:
Proverbs 11: 9,13
"The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered."
"A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter"
Although he was mentioned once in the Bible but not in a positive way. He was a leader who was known for "loving power" and gossip. He spoke evil about others in the church. Gossip was his way of hurting and dividing people.
How does gossip present itself?
Rumors spread like wild fire, leaving destruction in their way. The book of Proverbs and St James in his letter likened gossip and spreading rumors to setting fire from a small spark.
"Have you heard about what happened to her?"
"I am concerned about her marriage"
"I wanted others to know what happened so we could all pray about it"
Gossip sneaks into conversation under the pretense of innocent information, true facts or interest of helping. IT IS A SIN.
It is a sin because it exploits another person's personal life. It is sin because that person did not give us permission to release private information about them. It is sin because I would be very uncomfortable and even hurt if it happens to me.
Gossip involve three persons; the speaker, the listener and the person whom the gossip is about.
First the gossiper, Why gossip?
1. We feel hurt by someone and cannot confront them.
2. To feel important. Some people feel inadequate and have a need to cut down others or be a part of the inside group on information.
3. Boredom. It is entertainment and quick excitement that does not last.
4. Envy. To destroy another's reputation. They are in competition with others in their circle of acquaintances. In most cases the other does not know they are competing.
The listener to gossip:
Agreement signs: a nod or even silence can be counted as agreement to the rumor. The name of the listener can be passed along as a participant in the gossip: " Samira and I were talking yesterday. We think..."
Our feelings change toward the other by listening to gossip about them.
We can make the wrong judgment because we listened only to one side and did not give the person the chance to defend themselves.
How should we deal with gossip?
- Recognize it: it usually start with: "did you hear about so and so?..." it can be in the usual hushed voice or lower tones, the manner of telling secrets.
- Do not be silent, say something to stop it immediately: "I do not believe what you said is true" "did you ask the person or checked the truth of what you say?" "we really should not be speaking this way about someone who cannot defend themselves" "it is better to speak to the person before we make any assumptions"
The persons who is a target of gossip:
The first inclination is to defend themselves and set the record right, and sometimes even avenge their loss of reputation and injury of self image. If the hurt is minor, they should ignore the gossip altogether "Also do not take to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. For many times, also your own heart has known that even you have cursed others." Ecc 7:21,22.
It is the quickest and surest way of stopping the rumors. Only if the gossip is going to affect someone's job, integrity or church service, we should take action by going to the source of gossip and confront the rumors with truth. It should be clear to the gossips that they should discontinue. Some gossips would deny that they said anything, but most will stop once they know they were identified as the source.
How to quit gossiping
It is through the help of frequent confession and one's family and friends. A gentle reminder or indirect hint may help us stop the gossip before it starts. Overtime the habit is overcome. Also the exchange of gossip thoughts with the kind of thoughts St Paul listed in Philippians 4:8 " 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things"
Ref. Soul Care Bible, Article on Gossip, page 836, 837