Monday, January 29, 2018

The pain of gossip and rumors

Think about the last time someone asked you a question that totally caught you off guard. The biggest time this happened in my life was during my first year of Bible College. One, while on break a classmate came up to me and asked me if I was selling heroine. As you can image, I was in shock! His question stumped me. In my past I had sold drugs, but I’d never touched heroine.

The problem is his question was less of a question and more a declaration that I’d been selling. In his tone if felt like I was already guilty and needed to be proved innocent.

I tried as calmly as I could to ask him where he heard this. The question of me selling was more than frustrating but his response was infuriating. He told me that another class member had told him and she was scared to confront me. To be completely honest I shut down and was so angry. It was one of those times in my life that I couldn't think straight I was so upset.

My life had completely changed with Jesus and the last thing I wanted to do was touch drugs again. I was working a job, waking up early, going to school in the morning, work in the afternoon and back to school at night. If I was selling heroine I wouldn’t be holding that schedule or working the low paying job I had been working. I wouldn't have been living in a small apartment and driving an old truck. It wasn't just a financial insult, it was the thought of my past trying to steal the future God had for me. The main insult felt like an attack on my character, and that hurt the most.

I excused myself from class that morning to talk with one of the leaders of the school. See before I met Jesus I would go and handle conversations like this in person but no one was telling me the source of the rumor. My initial intention was to go to the person's home and have a conversation with them. An in all honest, my words would have been few. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but this is me being vulnerable.

Finally the leader was able to figure some things out and it came to be that a guy I had never met heard a rumor about me and told this girl in our class during a Bible study. He confused me with another person and blew the whole thing out of proportion. You know how it came out? He shared during the prayer request time of Bible study.

This instance in my life reminds all of us have badly misinformation can hurt a person.

Think of the pain that rumors cause people. Reputations are ruined by rumors. Marriages are destroyed by miscommunication, relationships are severed with poor information and churches are destroyed by the small spark of a lie. When you think about your life, how have rumors hurt you? Maybe you’ve been the victim of a painful rumor just like me. We’ve all seen the personal impact of how rumors impactor lives, our family, a love one or the local church in some cases.

On Sunday I taught on Acts 21:17-22:29 about the pain of rumors. Paul was a misunderstood man who almost lost his life due to a misunderstanding. You can read the passage in Scripture and find out that a small amount of legalism had snuck in the church, it went unchecked and then started a mini-riot at the temple.

When we read about Paul's expeditions and experience we see that he lived boldly in Christ. This week I encourage you to live boldly in Christ. Be a truth teller and not a lie creator. Don't spread words that you know aren't true. Talk to a person and not about a person. Be a person of your word and work towards unity. We need more unity now!

At our church we make sure rumors don’t have a leg to stand on. We’ve all seen the pain that rumors can cause in our personal lives and in the life of the church. Rumors cause drama and drama tends to cause pain in the lives of those involved.

Listen to this Proverbs from God’s word: “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” (Proverbs 26:20). The way to stop rumors is to commit to being a truth teller. Most of us have probably thrown a log or two on a fire at one time, I know I have. I invite you to change that. I want to invite you to be a truth teller instead of a rumor spreader.

As a pastor, I have the opportunity to talk with hundreds of people. And sometimes people come up and tell me things about other people. Instead of falling into the trap of siding with the person speaking, I try to say something like, “That doesn’t sound like so and so.” Or, “My experience with that person has been very different.”

If you’re tempted to fall into gossip and rumors, think about the repercussions on the other person and how you’d like to be treated. Remember the words of Christ, “ Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31). Make a commitment to be a truth teller.

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