Proverbs 25:7b-10 - What your eyes have seen do not hastily bring into court, for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor puts you to shame? Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another's secret, lest he who hears you bring shame upon you, and your ill repute have no end.
Have you ever been misjudged?
I knew a man once who climbed the outside of a house trying to get into a second-story window. A year or two later he was publicly accused of having an affair with the young woman who lived in that house. "He was trying to climb in her window so her mother wouldn't know," the accuser said. "I saw it with my own eyes!"
Unfortunately for the accuser, I too saw it with my own eyes. I was there. The woman's mother had called him because her daughter had locked herself in her room and threatened to commit suicide. There was no answer when she called through the door, and she was afraid her daughter was lying in the room dead. That's why she asked the man to climb the wall.
Jumping to conclusions is a very human trait, but it's also a terribly damaging one. Gossip and rumors can destroy relationships and reputations. God warns us about this because He loves us and does not want to see us harmed. Nor does He want to see us harm our neighbors!
But it isn't easy to control the urge to gossip—to judge—to jump to conclusion. And have you noticed that those conclusions are always bad ones, by the way? Nobody seems to jump to complimentary conclusions. When was the last time you heard someone gossiping about the good behavior of another person?
Gossip is so hard to resist, though. As the Bible says, "The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body" (Proverbs 18:8).
There's really only one permanent solution to the temptation to gossip, and that is for us to learn—really learn—to love our neighbors. We are much less likely to spread harmful judgments about people we love. Rather, we will shield their reputations and protect them to the best of our ability, whether they are present to hear the conversation or not. And if we come across something that at first glance seems damaging—something that makes us suspect they are involved in evil-we will take it to them privately, rather than spreading it around the office or the church.
But that only pushes the problem back one more level, doesn't it? Now the question is, "How can we learn to love our neighbors?" It doesn't come naturally to us. We can only do this if God the Holy Spirit is living inside of us, loving those people through us, doing it for us. Then we can really love them.
The apostle John tells us, "We love because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). Although He could have done so, Jesus refused to judge and condemn us for our messed-up lives. Instead, He came to be our Savior—to suffer and die for us—to rise from the dead for us, and to transform us with His power. He is making us more and more like Himself. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," writes Paul (Romans 8:1). And with the Holy Spirit's help, we will learn to show that same mercy to others around us.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, rule over my tongue and let me speak with the care and love You do. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Have you ever been the victim of gossip?
2. What do you do when you are tempted to gossip?
3. How has Jesus used His own speech to love and care for you?
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