I believe the single most important thing I can do to keep myself in the “right” place with God is daily Bible reading and journaling. I say daily because that’s my goal, though to be completely honest there are times that I skip this practice for a day, two days, even a week at a time. It is in the skipping that I realize it’s importance as everything goes awry without the daily infusion of God’s Word into my life and my reflection upon it. God speaks to me through His Word.
Welcome to FREEDOM FRIDAY – A devotional, emotional, spiritual and sometimes hysterical series that I will be sharing on occasional Fridays, in addition to my regular Old Things New posts. Why? Because though once bound in chains Christ has set me free – FREE to live, to love, to dance, to sing, to be who God created me to be!
Proverbs 17 was on my reading schedule this past week. Before reading I
always usually ask God to highlight any particular verse that He wants to speak through that day. This day it was Proverbs 17:4. Here is how it reads in The Voice Bible.
I’d never heard this verse worded quite this way before so I checked out a few other versions. Most simply say that wrongdoers “listen” to gossip (I love how switching up the version of the Bible I read from time to time brings fresh new perspective).
I don’t think of myself as a gossip – anymore – though it used to be that I could add my input with the best of them! I’m NOT Perfect Patti but God has graced me with enough growth that I can usually keep my mouth shut when I shouldn’t speak – at least when it comes to gossip! When it comes to saying silly things, NOT so easy!
After reading this verse I decided to write down a few questions to ask myself:
- Do my ears “perk up” at gossip?
- Do I become more attentive or do I move away from the conversation?
- Does it depend on who the conversation is about?
- What if it is about someone who has hurt me or someone I love?
- What if it is about someone who always seems to come out on top?
- What if it is about someone who isn’t on the “same side” as I’m on?
- Do I ever have a sense of vindication or self-satisfaction when I hear an evil word about another person?
- Is any of this okay, as long as I don’t say a word of gossip out loud myself?
I believe that to be a listener to gossip can be just as bad as being the gossiper.
- By listening without speaking we can appear to be in agreement.
- By listening we may believe information about another person that is untrue.
- By listening, our view of another person can be tainted.
- Finally – if our ears perk up at gossip there may be something inside ourselves that we need to deal with – unforgiveness, judgement, ill will, hatred, insecurity, etc.
Having said all this, let me tell you that sometimes I get hurt and feel like verbally bashing the one who hurt me. I have people who say unkind things about me and to me (when you put yourself out there on a blog that’s going to happen).
When I’m hurt I try to talk to God before running to find someone to share with. Sometimes we need human “one-anothers” also, as the Bible tells us to encourage one another and stir up one another to brotherly love. I have my husband and a couple of trusted friends that have heard my woes from time-to-time and have helped me to see things through God’s eyes. Even so, it is important that I be careful and test my sharing in prayer. God is faithful to show me if I am gossiping (talking with the intent of bringing harm to another) or sharing to receive feedback and insight into a situation.
Maybe some of you can relate the words I’ve written and need to spend some time asking God if you’ve been an active participant in gossip even if you’ve been a silent participant.
Prayer: Search me oh Lord, and show me if there is any wicked way in me. Cleanse me from anything within me that would cause me to “perk up” at a word of gossip. Give me strength to stand strong against the temptation to sin, even in the listening, and give me words of grace to walk away from situations that compromise my relationship with You and with others. Amen.
Note: The Voice Bible is an actual translation, not a paraphrase, but it is unique in that it was written by esteemed Bible scholars in collaboration with pastors, writers, musicians, poets, and other artists. The goal of this translation was to help bring to believers joy and wonder at God’s revelation. If you are interested in trying a different version for your daily Bible reading I’ve added the link below.
In my next Freedom Friday post I’ll be sharing a frightening vision that a dear and godly friend had, regarding those things we hang onto and how they cloud our relationship with God. It was important to her life personally and I sense that it is an important message for all of us to hear.
Until then, blessings to you dear readers,
Photographs taken in Tybee Island, GA
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