Gossip and Grace
August 29, 2020
A student shares his experiences at the beginning of a school year: “I was nervous my first day, and the tension continued to build as we all sat waiting for the professor to arrive. It was deathly silent, and I watched the clock in front of the room a little disappointed that the teacher was already five minutes late.
“Then one brave student spoke up, commenting that we could leave after waiting for only 15 minutes. This sounded good to me. It seemed that this broke the tension, and a conversation took off from there. Another student asked if anyone knew anything about the teacher, and there were numerous answers. Someone said that he was a hard grader; another commented that he was strict; one girl said that she heard he gave an overabundance of homework. There were numerous comments after that, and most were not very complimentary. There were a lot of jokes at the teacher’s expense.
“Finally, the ‘student’ who had spoken up first and seemed to know the rules stood up and said, ‘Well, it has been 15 minutes, but I’m not going to leave. In fact, I think I will stay and begin today’s class.’ ”
Be careful what you say. God is always present, and He is listening. “The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives” (Proverbs 18:7, NIV). —Chris Horton, www.illustrationexchange.com
Memory Text: “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge” (James 4:11, NKJV).
Our Beliefs, no. 22, Christian Behavior: “We are called to be a godly people who think, feel, and act in harmony with biblical principles in all aspects of personal and social life. For the Spirit to recreate in us the character of our Lord we involve ourselves only in those things that will produce Christlike purity, health, and joy in our lives. . . . We are to engage in whatever brings our thoughts and bodies into the discipline of Christ, who desires our wholesomeness, joy, and goodness.”
Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 27, 28
Read Psalm 141:3, NKJV.
David and Rachel had a big fight at lunch in the cafeteria right at your table. There were not many people around because lunch had just started. You, however, were there, and you heard and saw everything. It was the biggest shock because everyone thought they would be friends forever. Throughout the day both seem to be near tears, but they are not talking—to each other or anyone else. You are the only one who really knows what happened, so everyone rushes to you to find out the truth.
How do you decide what information, if any, to share? Whom would you share it with? What effect will your actions have on the situation?
Read Psalm 106:3; Philippians 4:8; Ephesians 5:1, 2.
Christ is our example, and we should do as He did. He never spoke to anyone in an unkind or uncaring way. He always put others first, speaking a kind word, smiling at them, or just reaching out to touch them with kindness and healing.
What are you doing to be like Jesus and make sure your words and actions are always kind and caring?
Unscramble the missing words and put them in the correct verses below. All verses are from the New King James Version. After putting the words where they belong, write what each verse means to you on the lines provided.
sediba sbrevorp selppa deklaw hcae snaippilihp stseretni thguo sgnittes nhoj yltif srehto
“A word spoken is like of gold in of silver” ( 25:11).
“Let of you look out not only for his own, but also for the interests of” ( 2:4).
“He who says he in Him himself also walk just as He” (1 2:6).
Read Proverbs 26:22, KJV.
Have you ever stepped on an open tube of toothpaste and had its contents squirt all over the floor? If you have, you know you have a sticky mess on your hands. This is a lot like squirting gossip all over the place. Just as you can’t get the toothpaste back in the tube, you can’t take words back. Many times the damage is irreversible.
Whether we own up to it or not, our words have power. Unfortunately, many times we use this power to hurt others. We have all been hurt by things people have said about us. We also know that it doesn’t have to be a lie to be hurtful. In many cases, sharing the truth in the wrong situation can hurt just as much or more.
James talks about the daunting task of controlling our tongues. It takes both strength and courage. It takes strength to keep our mouth shut and courage to tell others to shut their mouths when they come bearing juicy gossip. Just think about it. If a classmate wanted to talk about someone, and you suggested you not talk about that person behind their back, you are setting yourself apart as someone of integrity who can be trusted.
This, however, is not a task you can handle by yourself. You are going to have to get help, supernatural help from God. You are going to have to ask Him continually to guard your tongue and keep your mouth full of grace.
Fill in the missing words using the Bible versions given below. If you do not have some of these Bible versions, you can visit Biblegateway.com to find them.
1. “Set a guard, O Lord, over my, keep watch over the door of my” (Psalm 141:3, NKJV).
2. “Listening to is like eating cheap; do you want like that in your?” (Proverbs 26:22, The Message).
3. “You shall not circulate a report. Do not put your hand with the to be an unrighteous” (Exodus 23:1, NKJV).
4. “ can’t keep, so never confide in” (Proverbs 20:19, The Message).
5. “An evil man sows; separates the best of friends” (Proverbs 16:28, TLB).
6. “Whoever of you loves and desires to see many good, keep your tongue from and your lips from telling” (Psalm 34:12, 13, NIV).
7. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are, whatever things are, whatever things are of, if there is any and if there is anything praiseworthy— meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8, NKJV).
8. “Though some tongues just love the taste of, those who follow have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk or. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect” (Ephesians 5:4, The Message).
9. “Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his, his, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the, not writing all over it” (James 4:11, The Message).
Read Proverbs 20:19, NCV.
Review the memory text.
Why all this talk on gossip and words? Because some people are well into adulthood before they realize or understand the power that is caged behind their teeth. During this time of exploration and discovery of who you really are, you will find it will be a whole lot easier if you do not get caught up in locker-room or lunch table talk that will hurt others and also backfire and hurt you, too.
Every school, church, and town has a person who is a big mouth. People do not feel comfortable around them, because they do not want to be the next “talk of the town.” As agents in God’s kingdom, we should be people others feel comfortable and at ease around. If they are in need of help, advice, or encouragement, they should know they can get a Christian perspective from us and not have to worry about everyone else knowing their troubles. Trust, grace, and love in these matters can be a great tool to recruit others to the kingdom!
Read Psalm 34:12, 13, NLT.
Think of a time someone said something to or about you that made you feel bad. Now, think of a time someone said something nice about you—something that made you feel good. Write about the encouraging things people said about you that helped you to become a better person. Explore (1) how those words built your confidence in God and your sense of worth, (2) how they helped you to be nice to others in turn, (3) how long they have stuck in your memory, and/or (4) any other positive results they may have had.