But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.
I Peter 4:15
Recently a couple of my daughters were outside, bending down, pulling weeds in the flower beds. At that moment, I was doing some administrative work inside the home and I overheard, through an open window, one daughter say to the other, “You need to cover up, you’re showing too much” (she was showing a small portion of her back while she reached forward to pull a weed). Not really paying attention, I continued in my work. Again I overheard one sarcastically say to the other, “I’m surprised you don’t feel a breeze!” Of course, this statement did not carry over very well with the other daughter. So, to remedy the problem, I intervened and encouraged the daughter that was complaining not to nag, but instead to help her sister by finding a longer shirt to help cover her sister’s back. In response, she said “But it’s easier to nag.”
Now, she was not being rebellious or even sassy with me, she was stating, in her opinion, a truth. It took more effort for her to go indoors, upstairs to her room and find a better covering for her sister. It was easier for her to continue in her own work and not solve the problem. In essence, it was too much work and it was easier for her just to complain. Today, we will continue our lesson from last week on gossip. We will take another look into Mrs. Marlene Evans book, Relationships Without Regrets, in the lesson, Stop Gossip, Criticism, and Complaining.
In I Peter 4:2, Christians are encouraged to live according to the will of God and not for themselves in their former lusts or desires. Although most of us are not going to murder, steal, or do evil, it is interesting to notice that in our verse for today, along with the aforementioned sins, Christians are challenged not to suffer as a busy body in other men’s matters. To God, sin is sin and there is not one that is greater than the other. In I Peter 4:14, “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified,” we are being challenged to suffer for the Lord by standing for and doing right, we are not to suffer because we are living according to our own wants and desires. We are not to suffer because we refused to obey God and do His will. In addition, II Corinthians 5:17 states, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” After salvation, there should be a change in our thoughts, words, and behavior.
Consequently, how are we supposed to respond to gossip, criticism, and complaining? According to Marlene Evans in her book Relationships Without Regrets, we are to realize that;
• The best line might be no line. Just walk away as inconspicuously as possible. Don’t flounce out in pharisaical manner, you might be the critic tomorrow.
• You can tell something good you know about the person being criticized. In other words, making a positive statement can squelch the negative.
• You can pray. “Let’s have prayer for John and Mary right now,” is something some may feel comfortable doing. It will be pretty hard for a gossip or critic to wag their tongue after raising their head from prayer.
• You can change the subject. “Isn’t the weather just beautiful this time of year? I saw the most beautiful birds on the way over this morning.” Find something positive to talk about.
• You can cast doubt on the bad report. Say, “You don’t really believe that,” to the person giving the bad report. Act as if you know they wouldn’t stoop so low as to give that bad report a second thought.
• You can appeal to the spiritual. “I’m not going to believe that are you?” is an appeal to the spiritual nature and might help the critic to win that round against the carnal nature.
• You can take control over negative talk. Asking a question like, “Do you think there are some extenuating circumstances we don’t know?” can often be used to help the person of a thoughtful nature gain control over some negative talk and take the time to think about the person beyond their limited understanding.
• You can redirect the mind. “What could be the reason for that?” sometimes stops the critic cold as you have directed her mind to a complete turnaround. Also, we can genuinely compliment the person who is being negative. Oftentimes, this will help to redirect the mind to something more positive.
• You can get on a more positive track. “We shouldn’t be talking like this,” is a good way to get you and a good friend onto a positive track.
• You can ask forgiveness. “I said something yesterday that did not need to be said, and even though I know it cannot be completely forgotten, I am asking you to forgive me,” if you are the gossip, critic, or complainer is a line that will cause us to think after we put ourselves in this humiliating position a few times.
Mrs. Evans further explains by stating that if you were in a car pool with a driver who began to drink alcohol, you would probably ask to be let out of the car. We should take a gossip, griping, and criticism this seriously. It’s hurting Christian families and workers probably more than drinking.
My Pastor, Mike Ray, use to teach this verse in Proverbs 25 for such wrong behavior, “23 The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.” It is hard for a gossip, complainer, or a critic to continue when there is an angry face staring back at them. Determine today that you will not allow, encourage, endure or participate in this behavior. Just as it was more work for my daughter to help the other with a problem, it will take more work on your behalf. It may sever some relationships in your life, but ultimately it is God that you will give an account to and if you are going to suffer, suffer for doing right and not for wrong. Let’s pull the weeds of gossip, complaining and criticism out of our lives!
& One Day at a Time Devotional,
a ministry of Riverview Baptist Church