There is a thin, oddly shaped line that separates conviction and condemnation. Sometimes it’s a line, sometimes it’s a finger pointed.
I want to be so careful with this. It is so important to me that you know my heart. My heart is not to scream and yell and be offended. My heart is for what you read here to be received in love, that in the next few lines messy truth is met with all the sensitivity in the world; that grace would replace the burns that bitterness left when truth was communicated poorly.
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” James 3:9-12
Gossip is not a prayer request. The defamation of someone’s name is not love. Things said in secret that could not be said in love to another person’s face do not have good intentions. No matter your position in the church, pastor or newcomer— no title exempts you from this truth.
Check your source. I read an article as I prepared to finally put these words to paper titled, How To Survive a Shipwreck. The author wrote, “it has long been known that humans cannot keep themselves hydrated with salt water. Those who do die dehydrated after suffering a poisoning that makes them lose their mind.” Immediately my brain turned the page to Jesus’ words in John 4: 14, whoever drinks the water I give them will never be thirsty again.
As a Believer I am a vessel crafted and commissioned by the Creator to carry fresh water to thirsty people; if there is salt in my stream, anything poured from it will work against the Gospel. And that is a fact. If I encounter a spiritually shipwrecked person and I serve them salty water, their thirst is on my hands.
Listen, I struggle like a MUG. Bless her heart. The Lord did not hold back when He allowed thorns to be put in my side, but I have always lived with my struggle in the open right alongside His glory. Because of this, though, I am no stranger to the rumor mill or game of telephone that people tend to play in the church.
I have heard things said about me that have crippled my joy. I have read things that have almost taken out my ministry. Things that if I didn’t know Jesus the way that I do, would’ve pushed me so far away from the church I don’t know if I would’ve ever come back, but it’s been these things that have forced me to learn one of the most important truths: if a brother or sister of mine is genuinely burdened for my spiritual safety and well-being, they will come and have that conversation with me, not the rest of the church.
This has also caused me to be extremely weary of the voices that I allow to speak into my life and how I speak into the lives of others. Because you know, the scariest part of the whole thing is that a lot of it could have been exactly what I needed to hear, but I couldn’t listen over the sound of my heart and trust being broken.
What are my intentions? Is it any of my business? Is it true and do I know it without a shadow of doubt? Is it edifying? Will it bring hurt or healing? Question mark. Question mark. Question mark.
Gossip is often the result of 3 things: insecurity, boredom or bitterness, and no matter my answer to any one of these questions, I am not the Holy Spirit. It is not my job to convict and it is certainly not my job to condemn. It is my job to love.
It is my job to carry fresh water.