Last Sunday I went to church with so much on my mind. I was wrestling with an issue and have been for quite some time. However, this issue has been on the forefront of my brain lately.
One sin is not greater than another but I have been really concerned that some of my “venting” to friends might fall under the gossip/talebearer category instead of the category of obtaining wise counsel in difficult situations.
So I get to Sunday School and the teacher decides to skip ahead in Proverbs to chapter 11, verse 13 to be exact. “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.”
When I explained the angst I have been going through wondering if I am guilty of this particular sin or not, we decided to all look it up during the week and come back with some answers from the Bible.
The first thing I decided to find out is the definition of a talebearer. The definition says a talebearer is a person who maliciously gossips or reveals secrets. Pretty self explanatory right? This is not your typical conversation however. This definition involves more than just an action, it is an obvious ill intent.
I think we all know people who are negative 99.9% of the time. Very little they have to say about other people is positive. They point out the worst in everyone. Much of their conversations are centered around how everyone else treats them bad, or how they do not get the respect they deserve. They are masters at twisting whatever you say when they repeat it to, basically, the whole world. This…is a talebearer.
Pity the person who is foolish enough to trust a talebearer enough to tell them private information…And it happens to us all. It really does.
Matthew 12:35-37 says, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned”.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers”.
1 Peter 3:10 says, ““Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;”
Here’s another thought…think about the Bible. It is full of stories told about other people. These stories reveal all kinds of things about the people in them, secret things. Things that they likely did not want other people to know. Does this make God himself a talebearer?
1 Corinthians 10:6 says, “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted”.
There was a lesson to be learned here. No ill intent existed in the telling of these stories about other people.
So how do you know if what you are doing, or what a friend is doing crosses the line into talebearing? I think it is just like any other sin in the Bible, it is a heart issue. If you have the Holy Spirit in your heart, there will be a little warning that goes off in your heart when something about what you or someone else is saying does not “feel” right. Our job is to obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Proverbs 11:14 “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety”.
Sometimes there are situations where you have to get advice. Regardless, you have to really search your heart and make sure there is no malice there, only a desire to understand and find wisdom in the situation. You also need to be extremely careful who you go to for advice. Make sure it is a Godly person who is known for their discretion.
Ultimately, if someone is sinning against you with their slanderous words, Matthew 18:15-17 clearly says what you are to do; go to that person and ask them to repent. This is where I fall short. I honestly cannot remember a time when I purposely with ill intent decided to reveal the business of someone else. The heart is deceitful though so I cannot say for sure, but I have never purposely tried to hurt anyone, even with my words.
However, there IS something that I do wrong. I have such a hard time going to an individual and confronting them for treating me wrongly. It is so much easier to vent to another person and this is wrong. If I am going to another person to talk about a situation in lieu of confronting the situation head-on, then I am just being a coward and not obeying what the Bible clearly says to do.
Luke 17:3 “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him”.
I suppose I did learn something from this study. I learned that I am not a talebearer for needing advice sometimes. However, I do need to work on picking safe people to confide in. I also need to become a bit bolder in being honest with people in my life when they hurt me.
I love how God leads us on these adventures when we least expect it. I thought I was searching for truth in one area of my life and then God shined a bright light on a different area of my life that has remained in the shadows until now.
So what is the answer? Whether you are the talebearer or the person who is afraid to confront the talebearer, the answer is always Christ. We need HIM. We all need his mercy and grace to forgive our shortcomings and change our hearts.