Internal Bleeding 1 Cor. 1: 10
Two elderly women were sitting together in the front pew of church listening to a fiery preacher.
When this preacher condemned the sin of stealing, these two ladies cried out at the tops of their lungs, "AMEN, BROTHER!
"When the preacher condemned the sin of lust, they yelled again, "PREACH IT, REVEREND!"
When the preacher condemned the sin of lying, they jumped to their feet and screamed, "RIGHT ON, BROTHER! TELL IT LIKE IT IS... AMEN!"
But then the preacher condemned the sin of gossip and these two ladies got very quiet. One turned to the other and said, "He’s quit preaching and gone to meddling’."
It my get very quiet in here, this morning because I’m about to stop preaching and go to meddling.
We use “CallemAll” messaging service to get out prayer requests and messages to the church. “TellemAll” is a local church gossip service. Their motto is. “You just tell one and she’ll TellemALL.” [Not actually a real company]
BUT did you know that gossip is listed among the most disgraceful sins in Scripture?
[Rom 1:29-32 NIV] “29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” Those involved not only keep doing it, even though they know it’s a terrible sin BUT they condone and encourage others to follow in their sin.
According to Scripture, gossip destroys relationships.
[Pro 16:28 NIV] “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.”
Again we see in Scripture that gossip and conflict go hand in hand.
[Pro 26:20 NIV] “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.”
There is another word in Scripture used for one who gossips and that word is slanderer.
[Col 3:8 NIV] “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”
Gossip causes division. Let me show what division causes when it comes to the family and the body of Christ or what we call the church.
1. Division causes an unforgiving spirit.
[Mat 6:15 NKJV] 15 "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
I want to show you 4 things about the person who brings deliberate division to the body.
a. This person has fallen short of the righteousness God saved them for and there is clear evidence that their relationship with God is in word only.
[1Jo 4:20 NKJV] “If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”
b. This person feels they have the God given right to say whatever they feel like saying, due to a self-righteous nature.
[Tit 3:1-2 NKJV] “1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.”
c. The person who creates deliberate division shows they have not taken the necessary step to secure their on forgiveness.
d. This person is living by the standards set by the world rather than the Word.
Bad feelings among the membership causes a divided church.
2. Division destroys.
Those who Gossip and cause division keep some strange company.
[Rev 13:5-6 NIV] “5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander [To destroy] his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.”
Look, gossip is slander and slander causes death and destruction…Even though your goal may be only to get back at someone and in your mind has nothing to do with the church; you are singlehandedly ripping the very foundation out from under the church. Gossip will destroy any church where it is allowed to live and thrive.
Jesus warned in [Mat 12:25 NKJV] “…"Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”
Jesus also said in Matthew 12: 36 that you will be held accountable for every word you speak…
Paul tells the church in, [Gal 5:14-15 NIV] “14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Paul’s warning is not to look out for the outward attacks but the internal attacks that WILL destroy the church.
Let me ask you something. What do you come to church for?
One Sunday morning, coming out of church, Mrs. Smith asked her husband, "Do you think that Johnson girl is tinting her hair?"
"I didn’t even see her," admitted Mr. Smith.
"And that dress Mrs. Davis was wearing," continued Mrs. Smith, "Really, don’t tell me you think that’s the proper costume for a mother of two."
"I’m afraid I didn’t notice that either," said Mr. Smith.
"Oh, for heaven’s sake," snapped Mrs. Smith. "A lot of good it does you to go to church."
Do you come for the latest juicy news or do you come to praise and worship God who despises gossip and slanderous language.
Here’s something I’ve had to remind myself of; when you speak to or speak of someone in a belittling way it attacks their character and the quality of a person’s character is God’s responsibility.
When you deliberately attack another member of the body, be it one of the leadership or not, remember that you are single handedly chipping away at the foundation of this church and Jesus said if we’re divided against ourselves we will not be able stand…we will commit spiritual suicide.
3. Can we fix it? Yes we can, if we look to Scripture for the answers. Look at [2Ti 2:14-16 NIV] where Paul tells us to:
a. Warn against meaningless words…words that have no value…
14 Keep reminding God's people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.
b. Encourage personal study. Studying God’s Word will guide us to be more like Him.
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
c. Warn them to avoid profane or godless discussions.
16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” The more you gossip the more ungodly you become and more you destroy your relationship with God and His people.
Jesus gives us three steps to correcting the problem, in: [Mat 18:15-17 NIV]
Notice, first of all that not once did Jesus say to run to the gossip fence or the “tellemAll” gossip service.
But He did say for us to:
1. Make every attempt to reconcile. Jesus says in verse 15: “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you…”
Where is the first place Jesus tells us to go? The one who has offended you.
Why is the phone the first place many make their first stop!?
But what if step #1 doesn’t work? Then we move to step two.
2. Take some witnesses along. Does this mean that I get my posse and we go strong-arm them into submission? Of course not.
“16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'”
Let me make a suggestion. If you have an issue with someone in this church and you have made every honest and biblical effort to reconcile the differences without any results, rather than picking up the phone to destroy them, call your deacon…your pastor. We can set up a meeting to sit down and calmly discuss the matter.
What if that didn’t work? Now do I get to destroy them and run them off? No, not according to Jesus.
3. After all else has failed we bring the matter before the entire body.
“17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
So this is where we can destroy a person and get away with!
There are several things to remember about church discipline.
a. A person’s life is involved. This is not a game and there is no restart button if it doesn’t go the way you wanted it too. The reality is we’re dealing with human beings and there can be irreversible damage to the person being disciplined. This person could be, forever pushed away from God and the church. If this person is lost, their blood will be on our hands.
b. The act of church discipline can cause even more division.
c. It can cause more gossip. The nature of man enjoys, not only knowing but sharing juicy news. It doesn’t matter if the news is true, right or helpful; as long as it’s juicy. The truth is that few can keep quiet about such matters and before you know it it’s all over town. Pastors are being fired people are leaving and a church is dying.
So when do we take it to the church? After all else has failed AND;
When we’re absolutely sure through prayer and meditation on God’s Word that the Holy Spirit is leading us in that direction and not the devil.
When we’re guided by love and the need to share one another’s burden.
When we are ready for our own faults to be brought to the surface.
It’s not about kicking people out of the church but fixing broken people and broken relationships.
I’ll close by saying this; if you are part of the vicious and malicious gossip in EBC may I suggest tying a knot in your tongue before you destroy what God is doing here.