Counterfeit Connection

Our relationships develop and grow through the stories we tell each other. We connect with people when we know the past they’ve come from, the present they live in, and the future they hope for. We feel connected when those people also know our stories. But when people become the topic of conversation instead of the audience, those connections start to break down. Today, we’ll discuss. potential hazard to real connection, as well as discover ways to enter into the kind of relationships God has designed us for.

Transcription

Good Morning. LifePoint family!  How we doin’?  Whew!  Yeah!  Can you believe this morning?  It’s like my favorite when there’s that little bit of chill in the air.  Ah, so good.  For those of you I haven’t met, my name is Brad Lindner.  I’m the youth discipleship director here at LifePoint Church.  And as amazing as this morning is, it only serves as notice; we’re runnin’ outta summer y’all!  But it feels like we just got started, right?  It feels like just a couple weeks ago I was puttin’ on shorts, and now I’m startin’ to wear layers, ya know?  Our kids are going back to school.  Pumpkin spice everything is already here.  Like it’s August y’all. I love pumpkin spice as much as the next girl, but…dang.  Ya know, and we’re tryin’ to squeeze those last few vacation days in; ya know, the PTO earn it and burn it- tryin’ to get it.  Tryin’ to get those last beach days in.  How many of you, during the summer, you plan at least one beach trip?  If it’s one day trip or you go for a week?  Yeah, gotta love livin’ in Maryland, right, yeah?  Solidarity, beach trip.  Now I’m not a big beach person myself.  But I do, I do like goin’.  I like it when I’m there.  You know my ideal beach day is the beach chair, a book in my hands, and the sand between in my toes.  Vacation Brad cannot be bothered.  And, and you know, every now and again, I’ll put my book down, and I’ll just stare out at the expanse of the ocean, or I’ll listen as the waves come crashing in and it’s just so peaceful, right?  Until you look over and you see somebody run into the water like they’re gonna go swimming around in the ocean, and I just wanna run up and say, “You’ve seen Shark Week, right?”  Like nothing good can come of this because there’s stuff in the water.  You get in and something brushes across your leg.  Is it seaweed?  Is it a jellyfish? Who even knows?  Can’t see anything in there, and then the deeper and deeper in there you go into the ocean the crazier things you find there.  There are sharks and stabbing fish and screeching eels!  All kinds of craziness.  You know the deeper and deeper you go into the ocean the more prepared you have to be for the hazards that you might find there. 

And, and relationships are kind of like the ocean.  You know they look great from a distance. We, we love relationships.  We’re designed by God for relationships.  We want intimacy with other people.  You know, I, I, I make myself probably more than I should.  But it’s nothing compared to how my best friend makes me laugh.  We love those connections.  We celebrate friendships.  Here at LifePoint, we love when people get into small group and form community in small groups. We celebrate marriages, and we love when people work well together.  Like, I’m a crier.  FYI, I’m a total crier. I cry at a lot of stuff.  Like in commercials when people are working well together, I’m like, “Oh my gosh!  This is so beautiful.”   And we love that stuff, but we don’t have to get very far into the waters of our relationships to know that ooo there’s some stuff, y’all.  There are some hazards in the water.  And so, over the course of the summer, here at LifePoint we’ve been in a series called Relate-able; to help us identify some of those hazards in our relationships.  But really, the goal is to go deeper, to go deeper and deeper into our relationships and to find ways to go deeper into the relationships we crave and that God created us for. 

 And in order to go deeper and deeper, we have to look at some of the hazards.  And today, I wanna look at one of those hazards in particular, and that hazard is gossip.  Uh-uh, preach!  Yeah, y’all are really excited you came to church today.  Yeah, I know.  Yeah super light topic, right.  But if relationships are like the ocean, gossip is one of those things- it’s like, is it seaweed?  Is it a jellyfish?  And sometimes we don’t know what it is until we get stung.  And so I think it’s worth looking at.   What, what is gossip?  Even though it’s not the lightest topic, to cover.  I think, I think the crazy thing about gossip is that when we talk about people, you know behind their backs?  And the thing is, is that when you and I talk about people behind their backs, we feel connected.  We feel connected because connections form through stories.  We feel connected when we share stories with each other.  I feel connected to you when I know something about your past or I know something about what you’re hopeful for in your future.  But when those stories become about other people.  That connection starts to break down.  It’s a counterfeit connection.  It’s a real connection.  Because here’s the thing; relationships form through stories, but they also form around trust.  And, and when I betray their trust by talking about them behind their back, I, I’m not only betraying their trust, I, I’m sending you a subliminal message.  The subliminal message that I’m sending you when I’m breaking somebody else’s confidence is that if I’m willing to tell you about someone, I’m probably willing to tell someone about you.  If I’m willing to tell you about someone, what I’m telling you is that “Hey, keep your personal stories, keep your personal information to yourself because I can’t be trusted with that.”  When,  when we share stories about other people, it not only creates relational distance between us and the subject but it keeps relational distance between us and the audience because if I know that I can’t trust you with my personal stories, I’m not gonna tell you those.  We’re not gonna have a connection because you won’t have those stories and you won’t have my trust.  So because it can break down relationship on multiple levels, and that’s the reason we talk about it.  Not because the Bible says it bad, and we shouldn’t do it.  But because the Bible is full of wisdom that speaks to the emotional reality that gossip.   The thing that happens when gossip happens.

 I, I wanna look at what the Bible talks about, today.  When we’re talking about gossip, in the book of Proverbs, written by a guy named Solomon, 1st Kings Chapter 4 says Solomon is the wisest person who ever lived.  Now, he spoke in Proverbs.  He spoke 3000 proverbs. Just these little wisdom nuggets.  You know like a sentence here or there. Just these really wise, really dense sayings.  And so I want to look at one of those.  First off Solomon writes in Proverbs 16, “A contrary person spreads conflict, and a gossip separates close friends,” Proverbs 16:29.  “A contrary person spreads conflict, and a gossip separates close friends”, Proverbs 16:29.  The reason I think it’s so important to talk about gossip is because it separates us from our close friends.  It causes relational distance.  Like, have you ever found out somebody was talking about you behind your back?  You know maybe they were spreading a rumor about you, or they were sharing information that you had told them in confidence? What did that do to your relationship with that person?  You want to get real close to them?  Maybe just your fist, maybe just that part of you want close.  I don’t know about you, but if I find out somebody is talking about me behind my back, but I wanna get as much distance between me and that person as humanly possible.  And, and that’s gossip’s job.  That’s why it’s important to talk about because it creates distance.  It separates us from community. It separates us from connection.  And the most craziest, wildest part about it is that when we are doing it, we feel connected.  It’s a counterfeit connection.  So today, I, I wanna try to expose the counterfeit parts of that connection and then I wanna look at ways that we can build a real connection. 

One of the crazy things about gossip is that it doesn’t really have one definition that is all-encompassing.  You know, that gives us all the dynamics of gossip.  There’s some really good definitions.  I heard, when I was, preparing for this, and I’ve heard, you know, through my life, there’s good definitions if you go onto Google, and google-ate that thing. But there’s not one that, that gets all the complexity, and that, that’s okay.  Because the Bible often doesn’t give us just a static answer.  What I love about Jesus is that he often doesn’t give us a static answer to a dynamic question.  So when he’s asked, “Who is my neighbor?”, what does Jesus do?  He doesn’t give a definition.  He tells a story.  Because story and descriptive language that we find in the Bible are flexible enough to move into our relationships, with all of our different complexities.  And so we may not get one clear definition.  But I think we get more because of the descriptive language.  It can fit into more situations than one just one sentence definition. 

 So if you have a Bible, turn in your Bible to the Book of Proverbs, Chapter 26.  And if you don’t have a Bible we’ll keep showing the rest of the verses on the screens behind me.  Proverbs 26, verses 20-22 goes like this: “Without wood fire goes out, without a gossip conflict dies down.  As charcoal for embers and wood for fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.  A gossip’s words are like choice food that goes down to one’s innermost being.” “A gossip’s words are like choice food that goes down to one’s innermost being.”  We don’t find a one line definition here, but there’s three things.  And I think this, there’s at least three things that tell us about gossip.  I wanna focus on a few words and phrases.  So the first phrase I wanna focus on is this phrase “Choice food.”  “A gossip’s words are like choice food that goes down to one’s innermost being.”  It’s like comfort food, right?  It’s like chicken and waffles with gravy, sausage gravy, like Iron Rooster, oh my goodness!  I’ll meet you there after church.  Gossip is like comfort food.  It’s like this;  That, my friends, is a Krispy Kreme cheeseburger, and it exists.  I’m from Wisconsin, and we invent stuff like that to keep us from dealing with our feelings.  Now I know what you might be thinking, “That’s really gross.”  Yeah, it’s really gross, and I kind of want it.  Like just at least once.  And, maybe that’s too off-putting for you, but like gossip, gossip is that choice food.  It’s like dessert at the end of the meal.  It, like it, it tastes good, but I don’t really need it.  It’s not gonna add any real value to my life, and if I keep eating that cheeseburger thing, it’s probably gonna do something pretty destructive to me.  That’s the thing about gossip is that it’s hard to identify.  It’s hard to know when it’s going on.  It’s even hard to stop because it’s so delicious.  I mean, have you ever kind of had your Spidey senses tingle when somebody comes up to you and says, “Hey, have you heard about…..?”  “Have you heard about Susan?  Have you heard about Frank?”  If you’re a “Frank” or a “Susan”, I’m gonna use your name a lot, but I’m, we don’t know each other.  I’d love to meet you, but this isn’t about real people.  Have you heard about…..?  No, I haven’t!  Tell me more!  What’s going on with Chip and Jo Jo now?  Those are real people.  I don’t know them, but I know of them, thanks to gossip magazines.  Or have you ever had the tension, you know like you feel the tension like you’re holding in a secret, right?  That somebody told you, right!  Oh my gosh, I just gotta get it out.  It’s too much for me to carry.  It’s just too heavy for me to carry.  Then you tell someone, and it’s like, “Oh, my goodness.  It feels so good.  I’ve been holding that in for like 30 whole minutes. I didn’t know if I could go much longer.”  There, there’s something delicious because we, we’re in the know.  We, we have this connection with the person.  But again, it’s a counterfeit connection because if you’re willing to betray somebody else’s trust, you’re willing to betray mine.  If I’m willing to betray your trust, I’m willing to do that for you.  If I’m willing to betray someone else’s trust.  No matter how delicious, no matter how sweet gossip may feel in the moment, it always turns sour.  It doesn’t have a great shelf life.  It curdles and turns sour so quick.  Just some more imagery for you. 

And, and because gossip is so delicious, we can miss a lot of the other destructive parts.  The next word I wanna look at is this word conflict.  “Without wood fire goes out, without a gossip conflict dies down”.  How many times do we use gossip in place of confrontation?  Mm- mmm- I heard that.  How many times do we use gossip in place of confrontation?  It’s easier for me to go and talk to somebody else about a problem that I have with you because, I, I you know, if I tell you about a problem that I have with you, you may get hurt, or, or, you may get angry with me, you may get upset.  And so, I wanna protect that relationship, I wanna protect that relationship, and the way I’m gonna do that is I’m gonna go over here, and I’m gonna talk to this person about the problem that I have with you.  We use gossip to kind of protect our relationships.  The, the problem is that relationship is already broken.  If I’m not willing to go and talk to the person, well there’s nothing left to protect.  You can’t protect the house that’s already broken into.  That relationship is already broken, so what am I protecting?  But you know what?  In, instead of gossip, we feel better about gossip because we don’t have to; we don’t have to call it gossip.  We can call it any number of things because I’m not gossiping, I’m venting.  We’re venting.  We’re just getting stuff off our chest.  It’s not a big deal.  I mean, once I get it off my chest, problem’s gone.  I may have just transferred it over to you, but no worries, I’m just venting.  I’m not gossiping. I’m a verbal processor.  Anybody else a verbal processor?  I’m a verbal processor.  I’m just tryin’ to work through my feelings about this.   Won’t ya help me work through my feelings?  I, I, I’m not a gossip, I’m a problem solver.  Ha, ha! You know Frank and Susan, they’re having real problems in their marriage, and I think if you and I just talk about it enough we can figure it out for them.  We can find the solution to make everything better for Frank and Susan.  Or, or I’m not a gossip.  I’m just joking.  I’m just joking man.  Don’t take it so seriously.  You know he needs to get into a job and outta his mama’s basement.  Just a joke.  And if that’s you, don’t worry; I was in my mama’s basement.  I got out.  There’s hope for you too.  It’s not a joke.  It’s the millennial life.  I, I’m not gossiping, I’m prayer requesting.  I’m gonna Jesus-juke my gossip.  You know Frank and Susan, there just having a real tough time in their marriage.  So, I think we just need to lift them up in prayer.  The Lord will heal whatever’s going on in their marriage.  And that’s not gossip because I’m helping them, right?

It’s get too real.  You know, Susan….her kids just run all over the place.  She must not know what’s going on at home.  She must not have it all together at home.  Bless her heart.  Yeah!  Whoo!  And, when it can even infect our prayer lives, so slyly, so secretly.  And, and the problem may be that I have a problem with you that I need to sort out, that we need to talk through stuff.   But you know what the ugliest part about gossip, is that I use it because I want you on my team.  I don’t think very highly of this person.  I, I don’t think they’re a good co-worker or a good employee, or, or I don’t think very highly of them as a human or a parent or a spouse.  And because you and I, we’re not like that, we gotta be on the same team together.  We gotta watch out for people like that.  We gotta watch out for people who aren’t good parents, who don’t take care of their kids the right way, who don’t pray the right way, and who don’t “x, y, and z” the right way.  That’s the ugliest part about gossip.  And because it’s so delicious, it doesn’t feel like we’re doing that.  But, but really I’m just transferring over the disgust, or the contempt or the hatred that I have from somebody else to you. Because we gotta be on the same team.  And, conflict, it doesn’t just go away when I gossip.  It gets worse and worse because when I gossip, when I’m not dealing with the problem, I’m reinforcing the way that I feel about you.  And not only am I reinforcing the way that I feel about you, I’m also influencing the way that you think about another person.  So let’s say you’re new to LifePoint, I say, “Hey come over here.  You see Frank over there, he’s got real”  (if you’re over there, Frank, I’m so sorry).  “You see Frank over there?  He’s got real anger problems.  Like he’s real short tempered, dude.”  And you don’t wanna be around somebody like that, right?  Do you start to keep an eye on Frank?  I do.  Man’s got an anger problem, yeah, I’mma, I’m gonna watch, ‘im.  Now Frank’s not an angry dude, but one day he’s had a stressful week and he comes in and he’s a lil short, short tempered, a lil short with people.  He’s just not in the greatest mood, but now everything that I just told you about Frank, that he’s an angry guy is now confirmed. Because now you’ve seen “Oh there’s the anger that Brad was telling me about and I need to watch out.”  And like wood to a fire, the problem grows and grows and grows. 

Here at LifePoint, and at any church, I think it’s a great breeding ground for this kind of stuff for the fire to grow and grow.  Because I tell you something and I trust you, and you trust me, but I also trust this other person and this other person.  I also trust this other person and this other person.  So this same information about Frank, it doesn’t just go to me, it goes to other people that you trust. Like wood to a fire, the problem grows and grows and grows.  I think to avoid this hazard, this particular hazard of conflict, there’s, there’s a lot of ways that we can do that.  We’ll get into a little more later.  But there have been whole books written about it. “Crucial Conversations” is a book that we’ve read here on staff.  It helps us kind of identify those things. But a good question to start off with is, “Am I willing to go to the person that I’m talking about.  Am I willing to go to them and talk to them about it?  And if not, why?   Because there’s an emotional reality that I might not wanna go to you because you’re gonna be angry, or you’re gonna be upset, and it’s gonna cause an even bigger break in our relationship.  But that problem’s not going to get any better.  And why do I always play out the worst-case scenario, like why?  Anybody else?  Like I’m a six, anybody else a six?  You know what we’re talking about.  Any-O-Gram.  Like worst-case scenario.  Why don’t I play out the best-case scenario?  They could be compassionate.  They could be graceful.  They could try to get understanding, and we’re going to have a closer relationship because we actually worked it out together.  I had a youth pastor that once said: “We’re one fight away from being better friends.”  Am I willing to go to the person and talk about it?  If not, why?  Like what’s the one thing I need to work on in my own heart?   So, we have, “It’s delicious”.  Which can make it seem difficult to identify when we’re using it instead of conflict.  And, and there’s one thing, is this word gossip.  We finally got there- the actual word gossip. 

And, and, and in the Hebrew what it’s more actually literally translated as is “talebearer” or “whisperer”.  And I love that word whisperer.  Whisper is just so full of meaning, and it denotes secrecy.  I think the like common line of any gossip, well, not any gossip, but a lot of gossip, is “Hey don’t tell anybody I told you this, but….”  “Hey, don’t tell ‘em I told you this, but….”.  That’s the level of secrecy, but it’s the most ironic part about gossip is that because I’m breaking somebody else’s confidence but I’m expecting you to keep mine.  That’s the most ironic thing about gossip is that I’m willing to break somebody else’s secret, but I need you to keep this a secret.  That’s a little backward.  It’s secrecy. It just breaks that relationship down even more.  Even though it feels like we’re connected ‘cause we have a shared secret now.  It, it’s a counterfeit connection.  It’s a fake connection.  Gossip is just the artificial flavoring because if I’m willing to talk to you about someone, I’m willing to talk to someone about you.  Have I thoroughly bummed you out yet?  Awesome! Great!  Welcome to church!

Listen, the thing is, you know it’s not the lightest topic in the world, but we need to talk about it because there is an emotional reality of what it does to our relationships.  So, if it creates relational distance if it separates close friends, and it, it separates us from relationship, then what’s positive?  You know, how do we re-direct our words in the direction of real connection?  Not counterfeit connection. 

If you have your Bibles open, turn to James 3.  We’re gonna…. Oooh, we need to move quick.  James 3 verses 2-5, we’re gonna see, what, how can we change this counterfeit connection?  “If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is mature, able also to control the whole body.  Now if we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we direct their whole bodies….And consider ships; though very large and driven by fierce winds, they are guided by a very small rudder.  Wherever the will of the pilot directs.  So, too though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things,” James 3:2-5.  Just as a bit in the mouth of a horse, like I’m not a horse person, but some of you are, and you’re awesome and teach me about horses.  You put the bit into the mouth of a horse, you can direct where the horse goes and a very small rudder can direct a very big ship, and likewise our words direct our actions.  The way that we speak about people, influences the way we feel about them.  And the way we that feel about them, influences the way that we act about them.  I-I- I- Imagine somebody who comes into your office and they’re constantly talking bad about their spouse, not only are you going to keep an eye on their spouse, but you’re going to join their team, and say, “Yeah, yeah your spouse, she just doesn’t get you, or he just doesn’t get you.”  Not, not only is that being reinforced in us if we go and we talk about somebody, uh, uh, not only does it influence the way other people think about them, but it reinforces the way that we think about that person because the way that we talk about people influences the way that we think about them.  The way that we think about them, influences the way that we feel about them, and our attitudes towards them and our attitudes towards them influence the way that we act towards them.  Remember Frank and his anger problem, right?  Gotta get Frank some help.  But what I told him about you influenced how you felt about him, and how you feel about him is gonna influence the way that you act about him.  And, and so the cure, not cure – that’s a weird word.  The thing that James gives us isn’t “Hey, you need to stop gossiping.”  Stopping gossip is not the point.  It’s not the goal.  The goal, what James gives us is this phrase “taming the tongue”.  And I prefer the word, the phrase training, yeah, I like training because it, it emphasizes a length of time. It isn’t like I’m gonna wake up and I’m gonna stop gossiping today.  No, no, we train our words in the direction of real connection.  If gossip breaks down our connections then we train our words to go in the direction of real connection.  Our words have that power to, to direct our actions towards other people and to direct our connection with other people.  So, I have three ways, real quick, three ways that we can direct our words in the direction of real connection.  That we can train our words in the direction of real connection.  The first one is silence.  A little counter-intuitive and I know what you’re thinking, “I wish he had practiced this for like the last 20 minutes”.  Listen to what Solomon writes about silence in one of his wisdom nuggets in Proverbs.  “When there are many words, sin is unavoidable. But the one who controls his lips is prudent.”  Have you ever just started talking to someone and they’re talking, talking, talking and you’re like is it my turn?  Okay, it’s my turn.  And you get in, and it’s your turn to talk and you just use all these words and you realize, “Oh, I just said something I can’t take back.”  You can’t un-ring that bell.  There’s a truth there that when words are many, it starts to be uncontrollable.  We start to hydroplane.  We start to say things we don’t mean, and so I think, I think the thing is silence- to take a minute to pause and make sure our words are exactly what we want to say.  Now my grandfathers were both quiet men.  Both in World War II and they came out of that and I grew up with them, they were both very quiet men, but when they spoke, I paid attention.  Partially because I didn’t know if they could actually speak and I wanted to like see what they could do.  But also because they chose their words very carefully.  And, I knew when they spoke that they had something to say,                 they had something to teach me, or they had some kind of wisdom or something.  I, can I be honest with you?  You know, real talk between family?  I feel like as Christians, we’re silenced, we’re drowned out a lot a bit because we, we talk a lot, like there’s a lot about Christians, there’s a lot that Christians say that we can get tuned out.  Is it possible that we’re in too many conversations?  What if we waited to say the thing that we really meant?  What if we chose our words carefully?  You know we only get so many words in a lifetime.  We’re limited to the amount of words we have?  What if they were the best words?  What if we waited to have the best words?  What if we were a people, who others took notice because we only chose to spoke, speak when we needed to?  And there are times when we can’t be silent, right?  We can’t be silent about injustice, we cannot be silent about abuse, and we cannot be silent about when we have relational conflict.  And so the second thing, the second practice that we do to train our words in real connection is conflict resolution; healthy conflict resolution.  And like I said, there’s books that goes into this in greater detail.  I could spend hours talking about healthy conflict resolution.  Mercifully, we don’t have that kind of time.  But Jesus gives us the first step.  Because I think we want the book.  We want all the nuts and bolts, and we don’t want to do the first step.  So here’s the first step, Jesus gives in Matthew 18:15, he writes this, he says this; “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.”  “If your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.” Yes, you, you can talk to a therapist, and you can talk to somebody and say help me understand  but at the end of the day, if that doesn’t get you to a place where you are going to talk to them about the problem, that relational connection, will always be broken down.  A gossip is a false conflict resolution.  It’s a counterfeit connection.  And what if we were a people who when, when people came in the door they knew exactly how we felt. Like we knew exactly how each other felt because we knew that if you had a problem, you would come to us.  I have some very direct people in my life, and far from being awkward and uncomfortable, they actually make me feel really safe because I never have to worry what they’re thinking about me.  I always know if they have conflict, that if we have conflict, they’re going to come to me.  There’s a huge reward in going to each other and talking.  And the last thing is the thing that I, I am most excited about.  Like I wanna do a whole series about this last thing, and the last thing is blessing.  To speak blessing into somebody’s life.  Listen to what Proverbs says; Psalmist says in Proverbs, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb sweet to the taste and health to the body”.  If, if gossip is delicious, it’s only delicious to the audience and to the speaker.  It’s not delicious to the subject or the victim.  But pleasant words?  Man, pleasant words are delicious all around.  Everybody gets a taste.  And they’re sweet, and they’re health to the body.  Have you ever found out that somebody was talking about you behind your back?  But they were sharing good information, like they were sharing encouragement?  This last week I was having a really rough weekend, I had a really rough week last week and I, I got an email that was sent to my bosses and I was copied on it, and it just really encouraging things. If gossip separates us from relationships, man those pleasant words, those encouraging words they make me want to get closer to that person.  They make me wanna be better friends.  Because, man, that’s somebody who’s got my back.  I, I love that, and I think we have an opportunity to speak blessing over people’s lives.  When we don’t have the words to way, I, I  have people send me a Bible verse and they just say, “Hey, I’m praying this over you today.”  That is a blessing.  I just wanna close with this on blessing.  I, you know I tell our students and our small group leaders downstairs, “You know we can’t be more fun than Disney, and we can’t be more exciting than Marvel. You’ve seen “Endgame”, right?  Like that’s pretty exciting.  We can’t be more exciting than Disney, we can’t be more exciting than Marvel, but you know what we can do the best here?  Do you know what every Jesus-following, Jesus-worshiping church can be the best at?  Is encouraging people.  That’s what we can be the best in the world at.  There’s no place like the church that can be better at encouraging people or should be better at encouraging people because when all else fails, when all other words fail, we have the greatest blessing of all is that you are free and you are forgiven- that through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ you are free and loved.  Is there a better blessing that we could speak over people’s lives than the Gospel?  Gossip is a false gospel.  It is bad news for people who don’t need more bad news.  Jesus Christ is the Good News the world is waiting for. That will form a real connection.  Will you pray with me?

“Jesus, there’s a lot of injustice in the world.  We see things on the news and, and we see things in our own lives.  How, how do we make this any better?   And there is a solution.  But sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in gossipin’ and think that’s really helpin’ the situation. It’s hard to identify.  It’s hard to know when we do it, and how to keep ourselves from it, but would you train our language, would you train our hearts in the direction of real connection?  And when all words fail us, would you help us to remember that we’re all created in your image?  And that we’re all loved, set free, forgiven, by your love for us.  We love you, and it’s in your name we pray.  Amen.”

Discussion Questions

How would you define gossip?

Read Proverbs 18:8. What makes gossip difficult to avoid?

Read Psalm 55:12-15. What effect does gossip have on our relationships?

Read James 3:1-12. In what ways is gossip like a curse? In what ways can we use our words to “bless” people?

Based on the definition you gave for gossip and reading James 3, is there such a thing as positive gossip? Why or why not?

Further Reading

Come and Die

When we believe, Jesus invites us to follow Him and live with Him as apprentices of His way. This is an invitation to come and die to ourselves in order to follow Him into a new life with the Father. To die to our sin, our brokenness, our plans to save ourselves, and...

Come and See

Jesus never insists that we clean up our lives before we can be rescued and redeemed. Thank God. Jesus, instead, invites us to take a closer look. To listen to the whispers of our curiosity. To come and see who He really is. Jesus is still inviting people to draw...

Becoming Unoffendable

Seems like there’s plenty to be upset about in our world. We can even get personally offended by the actions and comments of others around us. Here’s a radical, relational idea: What if you can become unoffendable? That’s right—unoffendable. It’s rare but possible....

Well Invested

Our society puts great emphasis on being well invested financially. There is no end to the programs and podcasts about how to invest wisely in real estate, IRA’s, 401K’s and the like, but how do we become well invested relationally? As in all investments, each of has...

The Rumbling of Grumbling

It’s a word we don’t use much anymore. It even sounds a little old fashioned and out of date. Grumbling. You see the word all over the pages of the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. Grumbling is all about griping or complaining or murmuring or carping or...

Are You Listening?

One of the most significant barriers to relationships is the failure to listen. It is impossible to effectively relate to others if we’re not listening. When we do listen, relationships come to life. Listening makes us feel heard, understood, valued, loved. The power...

Community

We’re all made to live in community. But today we find ourselves living increasingly isolated lives. As we further disconnect from other people, we lose not only the support of community we need, but we also lose the sense of fulfillment in Christ that God intended...

Singing Off Key

There is a mountain of scientific evidence showing us that people do moderately well at evaluating others, but are often terrible at evaluating themselves.  As a result, many of us are not self-aware in regard to our relationships. Said another way, we don’t have a...

Next Level Faith

Sometimes we forget the power of a friend. Inside jokes, encouragement, support, and camaraderie all add together to make for a good friendship. However, the mark of true friendship is ultimately based on love. True friends exercise sacrificial love for one another....

Commitment

American culture gives us almost no need for loyalty. We regularly switch brands or cancel plans via text message. We have learned to avoid commitment as a negative thing, forgetting the benefits that accompany it. In this sermon, we’ll discuss the need to remember...