Resisting Gossip by Matthew C. Mitchell
I heard about Resisting Gossip from a blog and then perused some intriguing reviews and endorsements. When my public library ordered a copy for the collection, I was the first person to check it out (assuming the risk that any damage to the book would be my fault!). I found it to be an interesting, convicting, and extremely practical book that I would recommend to any Christ-follower. The author, Matthew Mitchell, is a pastor in rural Pennsylvania.
I started reading with the mindset of, “I don’t really struggle too much with gossip. I guess I gossip from time to time but not enough to do deep damage. Perhaps I will pick up a few tips on how to be less critical with my words.” Within a few pages, my attitude changed to understand how prevalent gossip actually is in my life. Gossip is defined as, “bearing bad news behind someone’s back out of a bad heart.” Gossip is everywhere in our modern world: in the media, at work, in families, and in the church. My thinking transformed to, “Maybe I should wear duct tape over my mouth 24/7.” Thankfully, believers should seek a balance between silence and excessively careless words. Always focused on the gospel, Mitchell discusses why Christians should seek to eliminate gossip and use words in a positive and God-honoring way.
I particularly liked his discussion of the positive charge of Ephesians 4:29, to use words to build others up for their benefit. For example, a Christian can speak highly of a co-worker who others are criticizing or give a person the benefit of the doubt before believing unreliable information. Words can also be used to encourage, chart a new conversational direction, or share Christ, which are all preferred options to communicating “juicy tidbits” so others think we are in “the know.” The workplace is an environment particularly prone to gossip, and Christians can embrace a renewed mission at work while taking the book’s message to heart.
Some other particularly noteworthy lessons I took away include:
- Gossip is not exclusively a “female” problem. Both genders face the temptation to gossip.
- We like to be known as people who know information, so gossip is enticing.
- The remedy for complaining is contentment and thanksgiving.
- The antidote for prideful judgment is humility.
- Gossip is often downplayed as a “lesser” sin, but it has the potential to do great damage.
I feel encouraged that Christians can make a difference in the world by resisting gossip. Our words are powerful, and God wants to use us in the lives of people with whom we interact. Since reading this book, I have been more aware of what I say, and I pray that by God’s enabling, I would be wise, selective, and affirming with my words in 2014.
I would love to discuss this book with you if you do indeed read it!
Thanks for stopping by!
Allison Bies – guest blogger