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If my people, who are called by my Name, humble themselves and pray (Part One)

The text, for those who have trouble with a rather individual cursive, reads as follows: Scandal after Scandal. No institution safe....

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Gossip - not such a little sin.

 First the bad news.

Why write about gossip? On Saturday two churchwardens known to me had just come away from their church, when they stopped to greet a member of the congregation. One saw it as an opportunity to get to know a brother in Christ a little better. He did get to know him a little better, but he didn't like what he learned. The brother was a gossip. The brother spent, what felt like an hour but was probably about twenty minutes, bad mouthing their vicar. Their vicar is on holiday. A good opportunity to spread a little malice with no-one to gainsay it with facts.

According to the gossip, the vicar is driving everyone away, the young people in the community hate the sight of him etc. etc.  The gossip attends church and is checking everything the vicar teaches watching for false teaching! Not much chance of success there, I can promise you. It's poison and it's false witness. That's the sound of a commandment being broken and it most certainly is not loving your neighbour as yourself.  This isn't just a little peccadillo.  We're into serious sin here.
I have seen idle and ill-informed gossip destroy a business which would have benefited the poor of Zimbabwe. It still grieves me when I see artefacts similar to the ones we were hoping to sell on their behalf.

I have seen malicious gossip seek to destroy someone's livelihood. It failed, but the target later resigned and the community centre he was running then went from profit to loss and, eventually, was taken out of the community's control.

I have seen malicious gossip by a sick woman destroy two friendships and a ministerial team because the lie was believed and they failed to abide by biblical principles.  1Timothy 5:19; Deuteronomy 19:15 and Matthew 18:16.That church never thrived as it should have done and has since fallen into the hands of  a 'word of faith' style ministry. Most of the original members have left and gone elsewhere, including the original ministry team.

I have seen malicious gossip destroy another church that was close to revival and being the sort of church that would have been a model for everyone. It was evangelical, charismatic, socially active and multinational. It saw miracles, deliverances, conversions, sound gospel and bible preaching, it made a difference in the community but lies destroyed it. It is now a shadow of its former self.

False witness isn't just lying in court. It is any kind of slander or libel and it is also gossip. 

We live in a society full of gossip. It fills our newspapers, there are magazines devoted to it, there are whole websites and so-called 'social' media that are nothing but havens for idle and malicious gossip. These websites destroy lives and reputations.Other websites have to be set-up to counter the lies.

Then there all those lies about Israel occupying Palestine. This also destroys lives and not just Jewish ones. 

There's the atheist lie, there's the lie about Jesus not being the Messiah, there's the lie that another saviour is coming who is not Jesus, there are the lies of false religion and on and on. Lies destroy lives and send people to hell.

I nearly forgot, Satan accuses the brethren. Gossip does the Devil's work.

Now for the good news.

There is a God, Jesus is the Messiah. Because of His atoning death even gossips and liars can be forgiven if, like the rest of us sinners, they repent, believe in Jesus, are baptised and seek the Holy Spirit's help to cease from sin. 

God is still building His Church, He is still keeping Israel even though neither institution deserves such gracious mercy. He will vindicate His Name and His servants which brings me full circle to our little bit of local gossip.

On the Sunday morning a new family arrived in that church,  they will possibly stay and they know the vicar. In the evening, two teenage girls enquired about confirmation and they also know the vicar. 

As I have just written, God will vindicate His Name and His servants. One day, He will do it permanently and forever, but in the meantime, if we pay attention, He does it more often that most people realise.

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