Summary: More steps to taking control of the communication in your life.
The following sermon outline identifies five improper patterns of speech from which the discerning individual should stay away.
1. THE BACKBITER: One who speaks against an absent individual.
"LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart; he who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend." Psalm 15:1-3 (NKJV)
When we are tempted to say negative things about others behind their backs we should remember that our fellowship with God is hindered and our effectiveness at being truly spiritual is diminished thereby.
We need to seek positive biblical alternatives to address our grievances: prayer, speaking the truth in love, forgiveness, etc.
2. THE BUSYBODY: One who seeks out negative information and spreads it.
"But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters." 1 Peter 4:15 (NKJV)
Does the Bible here classify the meddling of a busybody with murder and thievery and other evildoing because we kill and steal the reputation and good name of others when we spread negative information about them? In any case, when the Apostle Peter groups the sin of the busybody with murder, stealing, and other kinds of evil - it clues us to the serious nature of this sin. We should not take the harm done lightly!
"And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not." 1 Timothy 5:13 (NKJV)
"For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies." 2 Thessalonians 3:11 (NKJV)
Whether it was the young widows Paul spoke of to Timothy, or those who stopped working at Thessalonica because they misunderstood the application of the imminment return of Christ - yes, Christ could return at any time - but that is no excuse for becoming idle - idleness is the gateway to becoming a busybody. Stay busy for God and you won’t be a busybody!
3. THE COMPLAINER: One who finds fault.
"Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD; for the LORD heard it, and His anger was aroused." Numbers 11:1a (NKJV)
Complaining is easy but not beneficial.
More importantly, God is displeased with complaining. Complaining insinuates that God is not doing His job. Nothing could be further from the truth. God may be testing us - or we may be accentuating the negative when we should be focusing on the positive.
"Do all things without complaining and disputing." Philippians 2:14 (NKJV)
4. THE SLANDERER: One who tries to injure someone else’s reputation by inflammatory speech.
"Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, Him I will destroy." Psalms 101:5a (NKJV)
Once agains we see that God is serious about the destructiveness of negative patterns of speech. We cannot afford to take lightly what God hates. It is in our own best interest to modify our conversational behavior so that God will be pleased and our lives more peaceful.
5. THE GOSSIP: A person who spreads negative information, especially by elaboration or exaggeration so as to make it more dramatic.
"Being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents...Romans 1:29-30 (NASB)
Gossip is found in the listing of the sins which characterize man’s downward spiral of sinful rebellion away from God. Spreading negative information about others speaks of a disregard for God’s Word.
In our culture there are gossip columns, even magazines completely devoted to idle gossip. Some of it may be lighthearted but the Christ follower must guard his or her heart from feeding on this constant fodder of negative information.
"Be not deceived, evil communications corrupt good manners." 1 Corinthians 15:33
In other words, "garbage in = garbage out."
Don’t fill your mind with the garbage of gossip or you will constantly struggle with peace of mind and purity of mind.