I want the share a little system I have adopted that has helped our home stay healthier and more positive.
We know gossip isn’t a good thing, and many of us try and avoid speaking poorly of others to strangers or coworkers and even our friends. But how easy is it to become lax when we are in the privacy of our own home surrounded by family?! Or with our boyfriend or best friend? Especially when we know what we say won’t be repeated back to the person!
But gossip is gossip regardless of where it is spoken. And it can be just as poisonous in the sanctuary of our own homes as it can be outside our four walls. Maybe even more so.
So I started asking myself this question before I speak of another person. “Is this something I would say in their presence?”
If it is, then I feel okay saying it! But if I wouldn’t say this thing about them in earshot, then I pause and search my heart—because it likely is best for me to say nothing at all. It’s amazing how well this has worked to eliminate gossip!
I realize occasionally it may be necessary to analyze a situation/person and it would require you to speak of a person in a way you wouldn’t to their face. But I believe this should be the exception and there should always, always be a constructive end-goal in doing so—never criticizing for criticizing’s sake.
An example of the need to speak critically of another might be in regards to safety (physical or emotional) for yourself or another person. In this situation there is the constructive end-goal of protection.
Or at times we may need to seek the counsel of a trusted advisor about a person/situation. In that case, we should always be careful we aren’t crossing over into gossip, but are truly seeking the constructive end-goal of wisdom.
Also, in an effort to train our children or learn/grow as individuals there may be times we analyze another’s actions. But here we have to be very careful about what our heart’s motivation is as we do so and that we don’t take it too far or create little “Pharisees” of our children and ourselves. Our end-goal must always be to gain or impart prudence and insight, NOT to tear down another person.
But really these are the exceptions to the rule and pop up a lot less than we think, I am finding! More often than not, if the answer to the question is not yes, it is better for us to bite our tongue.
Living this way does require effort and doesn’t happen without sacrifice, but it truly is worth the effort. I’m telling you, it really is worth it!!! Our homes and family life and relationships become the beautiful, life-giving places God intended them to be.
While gossip can be fun in the moment and “tastes good” going down (Prob. 18:8), in the long-run it is harmful and toxic. Left unaddressed, our homes and families and friends suffer. We suffer.
When we choose to do things God’s way, by avoiding gossip—even in the secrecy of our homes, we are WAY better off!
Please don’t think I am saying I do this perfectly. I am still growing in this area, but asking the question I shared has helped me eliminate a lot of gossip. And my family and I are experiencing the positive benefits of living this way!