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Breaking Bad Habits 1 – Gossip Has to Go 

Breaking Bad Habits Day 1: Gossip Has to Go 

 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.  (2 Corinthians 12:20, ESV)

 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:11-12, ESV)

You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:16, ESV)

The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool. When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. (Proverbs 10:18-19, ESV)

Bad habits are easy to get into, but very difficult to break. This week, we’ll look through a few of the more common bad habits we may have as believers, and what the Bible has to say about them. We are much closer to the middle of the year than the beginning of the year, but there’s no better time to work on breaking bad habits than the present. 

I am sure we’ve all been in this situation before: you’re sitting around with a group of friends, someone’s name comes up in conversation, and you have something you recently heard about this person on the tip of your tongue. Now, you have the choice to add your piece of gossip to the discussion or keep it to yourself and let the conversation move in a different direction. What do you do? I know many times I have made the wrong choice and added my piece of gossip to the conversation. It may seem harmless at the time, but the Bible is very clear that gossiping is wrong. 

The verses we read were selected from very different portions of the Bible, but the message is the same: speaking negatively (gossiping) about others is wrong. It doesn’t matter if it’s from Leviticus, Proverbs, 1 Corinthians, James, or any other book of the Bible: the message is the same. Paul viewed gossiping as serious enough to be worried that he would find the Corinthian believers doing just that when he returned to them. 

Gossip is harmful, damages your reputation and testimony, it can destroy friendships and relationships, and it is divisive. I don’t think that’s news to anybody, but it is amazing how something that can be so easy to participate in can cause such damage. The first 12 verses of James 3 deal with taming the tongue. The tongue is described as being a little member yet having the ability to set a great fire and being full of deadly poison. 

We were always told when we were younger that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That may be true in some situations, but words do hurt. I was listening to a 75-year-old woman on the radio tell the host that her mother told her, 60 years ago, that she looked like a clown after trying to put on makeup for the first time, and that comment stuck with her ever since. Every time she puts on makeup, she thinks about her mother calling her a clown all those years prior. I know that’s not what we would traditionally think of as gossip, but I say that to show the power of words. I have been physically hurt many times playing sports, but none of those injuries (that I know of) have stuck around with me for more than a few years. 

We know that our words are powerful, and the Bible speaks against gossiping, so how do we stop this practice? One way is to pray for people. We will be much less likely to speak negatively about another person if we are praying for them. We can pray for help from the Lord, stay away from others who gossip, refuse to partake in gossip conversations, or even redirect the conversation by saying something positive about the person. There are many ways to avoid gossiping; the difficulty is actually putting them into practice. If this is a struggle for you, I hope this serves as a challenge and encouragement to begin today to break the bad habit of gossiping. 

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