From time to time, I receive questions from people in my church regarding faith and practice. This question came from a friend who wondered about how to confront someone who is a gossip. Here are some thoughts in response.
Draw a Circle
Someone recently shared with me a remedy for fixing a marriage in conflict. They said you are to draw a circle around yourself and fix everything inside the circle. This is simple in thought, but profound in practice. The first thing that we need to understand is that we have the most control over ourselves. In fact, it’s the only thing that we should control. If I start trying to control others, we have other problems. So, sometimes, the best way for us to “confront” the behavior of someone around us is to model the kind of behavior that Christ calls us to. “First take care of the log in your own eye,” says Jesus (Matthew 7:5).
Call Out or Call Up
A second thought here is that we ought to spend more time calling people up than calling people out. To be a prophetic voice is to call people up into their kingdom roles. So, one of the best ways to confront a gossip is to use our own words to help them understand the importance of their words. We want to encourage their mastery of words (and it is mastery!) to be used for the proper Lord! So, we can call the gossip up into service of the King. Compliments regarding their mastery of words are not out of line, as long as these compliments point them to the Lord and his work. Use your voice for good! “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all” can be taken up a notch by calling a person into using their kingdom voice for good. Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” There is a calling up that needs to take place for those who are not exercising their kingdom voice in the best way possible.
Ready for Rebuke
A last thought would be that we want to make sure that a person is ready to receive the rebuke. Yes, there are times for rebuke. A simple google search for this word in Scripture brings up at least 65 verses. There will be times that rebuke is necessary. And, there may be times that we rebuke whether a person is ready or not. But, it is always better to rebuke when a person is ready to receive it. So, take a look at those 65 verses and learn how to rebuke. Some, quick thoughts on the subject of rebuke.
(1) Do it in private first. (Matthew 18:15-17)
(2) Do it as a loving act. (Proverbs 27:5)
(3) Do it with God’s authority. (Titus 2:15)
(4) Do it with Scripture. (2 Timothy 3:16)
(5) Do it with repentance and reconciliation as the goal. (Luke 17:3-4)
(6) Do it with an acknowledgment that Spiritual battle is in play. (Ephesians 6:12)
(7) Do it, knowing that it is the Spirit’s job to convict. (John 16:8)
My hope is that this is a helpful process for engaging gossip, rebuke, and a kingdom voice. It strikes me as necessary to conclude by saying that we want the Holy Spirit to be active during this whole process. So, we would want to clothe this whole process with prayer before, during, and after. God’s presence in the conversation will make all the difference in the world! It is he who works in us to will and to act according to his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). May you be blessed as you call one another up into using your kingdom voice for the glory of God!