Tag Archives: gossip

Queen Bee Gossip: Sweet as Honey or a Toxic Sting? (Series: Toxic People and Situations)

What can be done when annoying bees buzz gossip into our ears, casting doubt about a friend or loved one’s character? How do you handle it?  Do you accept the information as valid and true, or do you go directly to your friend for his or her side of the story? Have you let a good relationship go to waste, simply because you accepted a story that caused you to side with the gossip, or did you consider something may be wrong if you only heard from one party?

When we think about the times we have found ourselves in these situations, do we discover that we’ve taken sides with the gossip, without knowing all the facts; or have we given our loved ones the benefit of the doubt?  Did we ever allow the person being gossiped about, to come to his or her defense? Did the person even know about it? Did the person give up? Why or why not? Was the person being gossiped about… you?

At one time or another, we’ve all found ourselves in a sticky situation when someone suddenly starts talking about someone else. In that moment, we have a choice to participate, or not participate. It can be uncomfortable to speak up about it, but the person who should really be feeling uncomfortable is the gossip herself. If we choose to participate, we will find ourselves stuck in a hive, wondering how to escape a sticky situation. Those who engage in gossip are often afraid to fly away from the queen bee, because they’re usually fearful of getting stung themselves!  And they will… get stung… because if a gossip is sharing info with you, the gossip will share info about you. To think this is false, is to live in denial about the spirit of gossip and how it works.

A gossip’s tasty little bits of information may initially seem to be sweet as honey, but there’s something to be said about food that is sickeningly sweet. When a gossip shares her irresistible story, people willingly eat it up. This is because the gossip falsely makes you feel special; as if it’s an honor to have been chosen to be trusted with her private little story. But it’s kind of like having a chocolate chip… you can’t eat just one. Each tasty morsel gives you a desire for another, and a little bit isn’t enough to satisfy. Eventually the listener wants a whole cookie, something to fill the belly:

“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (Prov. 18:8 New International Version).


If the gossip is really experienced, she or he will work hard to turn you away from her enemies, from the very people God intended for you to have in your life… truthful, compassionate, loving people. Why would a gossip do this? Because the gossip has an agenda: It’s an agenda to get attention from you, no matter what the cost is to anyone else. If the gossip is successful at getting you to stop talking to your friends and loves ones, and you don’t even really know how it happened, you may want to consider the fact that this busy bee body is downright toxic.

By definition, toxic means poisonous! Who wants to be near poison? Wouldn’t we want to separate ourselves from it? Of course! The gossip knows this, so the gossip creates the division first, to distract you from the real problem… the gossip herself! However, instead of you being separated from the gossip, you are instead craftily separated from the friends and loved ones who are a positive influence in your life. A gossip separates friends out of spite, jealousy, low self-esteem, selfishness and self-centeredness.

“A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” (Prov. 16:28).


The Bible condemns gossips; even grouping them into the same category as liars, slanderers, and God-haters!  God is not referring to this group with favor. A gossip is always a liar too. Why? Because the juicier the story, the larger the gossip’s audience will be, and embellishment means that more attention will be bestowed upon the gossip.

“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. (Rom.8:29-31).

Try this experiment: Watch a gossip in action. Observe how people engage with her. They move in closer to her, and shut out those who are their targets. The gossip whispers for dramatic effect. People “oooh” and “ahhh” over her phrases. The news is always negative, and it is usually shocking. Bits of truth are thrown in to make the story seem true, and to make the gossip seem like a credible witness. The audience reacts by mimicking the gossip’s emotions. If she’s angry, they are “righteously” angry for her. If she’s having a pity party, her audience gladly pats her on the back and agrees that the person being gossiped about is truly thoughtless, unforgiving, and unChristianlike.

The gossip is the center of attention and the gossip wants to keep it that way. The focus will be on her and how much better she is than someone else, how she’s been mistreated by someone else, and how she is concerned about someone else. In essence, the gossip is an expert know-it-all about the person who is not even there to defend himself.  A genuine Christian should use discretion when concerned about a loved one;  and should seek to keep quiet about things that could hurt someone else or damage relationships among friends and loved ones:

“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs” (Prov. 10:12).

Gossip is like having a  judge rule over a court case without allowing the defendant to speak. It’s like a football game when the offense runs forward to make a touchdown, but the defending team isn’t even there to try and intercept the ball.  If you challenge the gossip with questions to  verify how she got her information, her feathers will get ruffled, and she will become offended. She will become uncomfortable, and only then will she make an effort to change the subject.

In the worst case scenario, the gossip has no empathy, yet displays fake empathy by manipulating her captive audience into believing that she is concerned about the person being discussed. She is now in control of the situation, by having played on people’s emotions. Meanwhile the person being gossiped about is living a normal, healthy productive life, and usually has no clue about how much damage the gossip is causing behind his back. Yet slowly, bit by bit, people drop out of his life, all because of the gossip’s made up stories! Rarely will a good and fair man or woman come forward and say, “I heard this about you… is it true?” But why shouldn’t we do this? Why would we accept a one-sided conversation as truth? The Bible itself tells us this is a very naive thing to do:

“The naive believes everything, But the sensible man considers his steps” (Prov. 14:15 New American Standard Bible).

Most people can’t imagine how someone would play with real human lives in such a manner. But the truth is, it does happen, and it’s more often than we’d like to think. It happens when a gossip is at her very worst; and becomes a completely self-absorbed, self-centered, narcissistic person: Everything will be about her… everything. Not all gossips are narcissists; but ALL narcissists are gossips!  Beware the self-centered sting of narcissism!

If you’ve been caught up in the sin of gossip, the silver lining is that gossip is forgivable and escapable!  Repent of participating in gossip, and ask God whether He wants you to apologize to those who have been hurt by your participation in it. God makes good out of all things, when we come to Him with a repentant heart. Though it may take a while, God can heal broken relationships, and He can repair broken hearts. One small act of repentance can bring about a lifetime of beautiful gifts. God is a God of restoration. He can even replace many years which were lost due to the sin of gossip, and heal all the hearts involved. Ask God to remove gossip from your life today!

” ‘I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten– the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm — my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed” (Joel 2:25-27 New International Version).


If you’re the one being gossiped about, remember that God is your protector. The Holy Spirit is at work, convicting the hearts of those who accuse you. You’re not alone. Jesus knows exactly how you feel. He chose not to defend himself, even though He was, and is, God’s beloved Son. He knew God had a better plan, and he trusted His Father. When we are unjustly slandered, by those who gossip about us, we can rejoice in the fact that we are taking part in the suffering of Jesus for his namesake. Not only do we take part in the suffering, but we will also take part in the great joy of God’s Kingdom! God will judge all of it, and make it right. Don’t waste your time with a queen bee, when you belong to the KING!

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:17-18).


Stay tuned for these upcoming June posts from the Series: Toxic People, Toxic Situations… 
Is She a Gossip? … 10 Red Flags

10 Ways to Escape Gossip

The Self-Centered Sting of Narcissism

The Jezebel Spirit

Flying Monkeys… What are They?

Jezebel’s Chess Game… Win or Lose?

Fools and the Foolish… Is it ALL just “Fun and Games?”

It’s April Fool’s Day! It’s a silly day for playing some good ol’ funny jokes and having a bit of fun! At the same time, there’s a fine line when it comes to making sure we don’t sin in our silliness; by telling lies to our loved ones and friends, using their phobias to frighten them, and forgetting that a joke is supposed to make people laugh, instead of causing others to be distressed. Foolish people always seem to cross over the line, all in the name of “fun and games.”

Those who cross boundaries, by hurting other people in order to get a laugh, are desperately in denial when they claim, ” It was just a joke.”  Jokes are supposed to make everyone break out in a chorus of laughter. If you’re among several people telling “jokes,” and someone else is not smiling, or is even on the verge of tears; there’s surely a fool in the group; one whom has left their good sense and compassion behind. 

Hanging around with fools interferes with healing; so if you’re trying to heal, you better learn how to tell a foolish man from a wise man; and take the high road. The Bible gives us all kinds of warnings about fools: how to identify who they are, red flag warnings about what they do, commands to stay away from them, and instructions on how to handle them. We need to keep our eyes and ears focused on Jesus, so we won’t pay heed to fools when they come around, and…fools… will… always… come…back…around.   

Do not let a fool lie to you, and tell you that you’re the problem, when it’s the fool living an unrepentant, ungodly life. A fool will accuse you, spouting off lies, such as: “You have no sense of humor… You can’t take a joke… You’re no fun!” All the more reason to avoid fools; being that their lies get into our heads. These ugly lies take a toll on our emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical  health; blocking the way to the healing God wants to provide for us. We must pray against these lies, and renounce each one in the name of Jesus; for as long as it takes for them to disappear completely. 

God also promises He will deal harshly with fools who try to intervene in our lives by: spreading their foolishness around, attempting to destroy us, our reputations, and our ministries; and doing it all through the spreading of gossip, lies, and slander. Protect yourself from fools by using biblical boundaries. Know that when you finally decide  to let your heart heal, and put the necessary boundaries in place, so you can live a productive life which is pleasing to God; fools…will …always… come… back… around. “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm” (Prov. 13:20 NIV).

When you refuse to engage with unrepentant hearts, cruel jealousy, and the raging anger of fools; these very fools will rush in and attempt to get you to believe even more ugly lies about yourself. You will hear things such as: “You are a coward… You are unforgiving… It’s all your all fault… You’re unreasonable… You’re so difficult… You’re delusional… You need psychological help.” These kinds of hateful lies can get in your head if you are not keeping Jesus in the center of your life. You must renounce these negative lies in the name of Jesus. Ask God to remove the lies from your mind, and fill you with His Holy Spirit. Ask Him to replace the lies with His beautiful truth, and His promises to restore you; and bring health to your body, mind, spirit, and soul. Always, Let God be your affirmation… not fools. “Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are” (Prov. 26:4 NIV).

God tells us to stay away from fools for a good reason. He doesn’t want us to become distracted by people who are more interested in generating a laugh, getting attention for a juicy bit of news, and making someone the “butt of a joke, at the expense of making themselves look “good;” instead of living a life which brings true joy by choosing to grow wise; and bring honor and glory to God. If we blindly walk around ignorant of the senseless, sinful folly of simple fools; we will be more susceptible to being fooled by the more manipulative wolves and pretenders. This, in turn, leaves us vulnerably open to something even more evil, insidious, and dangerous; the devil himself. For the devil is a great deceiver, and he looks to fool you each and every day, and he knows how to make it look like it’s all “fun and games.” “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Pet. 5:8-9 New International Version).

But the silver lining lies ahead for those of us who trust Jesus, and look to God as our shelter in the storm! We have supernatural protection from all fools and pretenders, and we have power and authority in Jesus Christ, to also stand against the schemes of the devil! Only children of God have this promise of God’s Almighty Protection! “When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes” (2 Cor. 2:10-11 New Living Translation).


So go ahead: wave a colored rubber snake and run around the house, put blue food coloring in the milk of your kid’s cereal, tell a friend his shoe is untied or your mom that her shirt is inside-out, and scream as you throw a rubber chicken in the kitchen while you’re preparing dinner! Giggle at all the reactions; laugh, and give hugs! Celebrating with a little bit of silly foolishness on April Fool’s Day, is a good reminder of just how important it is to be alert and diligent, so we don’t get fooled by the real foolish antics of others. Gain wisdom to avoid being fooled. All we have to do, is ask God, and He will freely give it! “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (Jas. 1:5 NIV).


Have more fun by avoiding the company of fools; get more joy by gaining wisdom!

Go Away, Dismay! 

When people hate you because you love Jesus and tell others about his miraculous healing…when people hate you because you care enough to tell them the truth about false teachers who bring false hope and false prophecy, which will bring them more pain…when people gossip about you and listen to lies because it makes them feel better about dabbling in their own sin…when people blatantly ignore you out of jealousy because they think they have your life all figured out and really just need to be working out their own…when people turn away from you because they feel uncomfortably convicted about their own life issues around you, not because you’re perfect, but because you strive to please God…when people use you, and then have no time for you, or only make time for you in hopes that they can squeeze a little more usefulness out of you for their own selfish gains…when people especially do these things to you, when at one time you considered them to be your friendsthe silver lining is that JESUS knows your heart.

JESUS is your real friend, and he loves you unconditionally, and forever. JESUS doesn’t care if you’re popular or accepted. JESUS supports you and is on your side, and he is fighting the evil in the spirit world that looks to be so much like flesh and blood working against you. During the storm, GOD miraculously protects you, grows you, holds you, and is miraculously working out His Holy plan for you, all at the same time! Even if some of the people working against you claim to be Christians, pray for them to be saved, or convicted. Pray for truth to be revealed. God is already sifting out the people who are not part of His plan for you, and all at the same time, He is cleansing your mind, purifying  your heart, and refining you like silver and testing you like gold.

So when it seems the world is against you, if you’re following Jesus, you should not be dismayed. Hold on to hope in The One who created you and loves you, The LORD, your GOD. Trust in The Lord, your God, and choose joy: “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed”  (1 Peter 1: 6-7 New International Version).

“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts”  (Prov. 17:3 English Standard Version).

The Gossip Track…It’s A Train Wreck!

(from a series related to narcissistic abuse)

Gossip is a long train of lies hitched onto half-truths, sprayed with graffiti, speeding its way down the rough, bumpy track. Who knows where it’s going? It’s dangerous, but it seems like everyone wants to jump on board, and it can cost people their lives. It’s not easy to slow it down, but if you’re willing to be the caboose, you can put an end to it.

The bible says, “In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines” (Prov. 18:17 New International Version). It’s astonishing how many people are willing to believe lies and settle for a one-sided story, without asking any questions of the other party. Why? It’s because gossip is a selfish sin. The listener wants to be perceived as loyal and is expecting something in return. It may be attention, money, status, job ranking, or the love and friendship from a relationship based on insecurity.

It’s just as sinful to eat up gossip, as it is to spread it. Participating in gossip is tempting, but it becomes deeply ingrained, skewing thoughts, and blinding the listener to truth. Gossip festers, causing people to believe lies for a long, long time. It destroys families and friendships, while eating away at your spiritual life. It may be years later that the truth comes out, causing righteous anger and sadness. People will grieve over the lost relationships that God had intended for us to enjoy.

Many people believe they have a “safety net” around them if they have a close friendship with a gossip, but they are in more danger of being betrayed, because they believe they are safe to share secrets. No one is immune from gossip, and those who participate will eventually get burned. If someone gossips to you, she or he will gossip about you. If we hear negative information, out of line with someone’s character, do we accept it, or ask the gossip why we’re being given the information? Do we ask for the other person’s version of the story, or sit back and enjoy the gossip as a sweet dessert? After all, the bible says, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” ( Prov. 18:8). 

Are we willing to give up valuable friendships because of a story that may not even be true? Do we question why we keep a gossip as a friend? Some people feel powerful when they have access to inside information. Yet, the listeners are being used as fuel to make the gossip feel important. The gossip basks in the attention. Of course, the gossip also omits any crucial pieces of truthful information that would place him or her in a negative light. In extreme cases, a gossip is found to be a narcissist: entirely self-centered, self-absorbed, and selfish, purposefully using gossip as a vicious weapon to manipulate and control people. This allows a narcissist to turn friends and family against each other, so they will all depend on the narcissist as the most important person in their lives.

There’s a difference between someone warning us about an ungodly person who could cause us harm, versus downright gossip which causes us to lose our positive view of a good and godly person. Or, maybe we’ve been given a first impression of someone we haven’t yet met. When given information, we should ask God for discernment about the situation, and pray about it. We should ask why the information is being shared with us. It may feel uncomfortable at first, because people expect us to participate in gossip. We can be bold, without being rude, by asking precise questions: “Why are you telling me this? Where did you get your information? Do you agree with what you are telling me? Why don’t we go together and ask this person for his or her side of the story?”

Even Christians can get weak, and fall into the trap of “subtle gossip.” An example of this is when just enough details are given about a situation, but the name of the offender is purposely left out, so as to avoid “gossiping.” Sometimes the name is mentioned, because So-And-So “needs prayer” (or someone needs prayer because of something So-And-So did). Self-pity comes into play and subtly works hand in hand with gossip. People’s sympathies naturally lie with the person voicing sadness, so they miss the fact that the offender is probably hurting too, maybe even more. The offender may have even been forced to create boundaries for a situation others don’t see. This is further isolation for the person being gossiped about. Wise people remove themselves from gossip.

Christians can especially be deceived when gossip comes disguised as “concern” for a brother or sister in Christ. Gossip is actually concern for oneself and one’s own reputation. Upholding one’s false self, becomes more important than keeping the confidence of a fellow Christian, or making the necessary amends to improve the relationship. An example is when someone visits other family members, stating “concern” for an adult child or a sibling. Even real concern is not a free license to gossip. Is this person’s life in danger? Or, is it just someone with whom the gossip has a rift? Gossip is a big, red flag. If you find yourself in between two friends or family members, and only one of them is repeating negative, “concerning” things, while the other says nothing, you’ve been given a huge clue as to whom to really be concerned about…the gossip.

People also deceive themselves by believing they are only telling “one or two people.” This is damaging, because those two close people each tell their two close people, and then those six people each tell other people. Even if, like me, you’re not a math genius, you can tally up the large number of people who shouldn’t have access, and who are likely misinformed. Just as in the childhood game Telephone, the gossip’s story has sifted through several sources, with facts added onto, twisted, and turned around, and even omitted. How can this be okay with God?

The bible says gossiping ruins friendships. It does. It causes division and makes us unable to trust our friends. We feel isolated, abandoned, and rejected. These spiritual strongholds are not of God. Feelings get hurt and hearts get broken.” A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” ( Prov. 16:28)

If you can’t keep a friend’s confidence, do your friend a favor; admit your weakness, and ask her not to share private information with you. If you are trustworthy, appreciate it as a gift from God, and honor Him by keeping the confidence of others. Trust is revealed when people share information that stays between you and God. There are only a few situations in which a trust must be broken. However, situations involving suicidal or homicidal thoughts, or sexual or domestic abuse are still not reasons for gossip. These are situations where wisdom and discernment must be used to involve the fewest number of people possible to gain the greatest amount of spiritual and professional help. One must use proper disclosure by seeking out a trusted spiritual advisor in authority, such as a pastor, or other respected individual, known for caring and keeping the confidence of those they lead towards Christ.

Are you a gossip? The silver lining is in repentance.  You can ask God to forgive you for gossiping. If possible, and if necessary, ask forgiveness of the person you have betrayed. If you participated in gossip (including listening to it) say you’re sorry and ask forgiveness of the person you talked about. It may be scary to admit to someone that you gossiped about him or her. God understands this. Ask Him to remove your fear and cleanse your heart. Take along a trusted friend who cares about both of you. But make sure you are the one to apologize. You may find that the person you gossiped about is actually relieved, and grateful to have a chance to clarify the situation and be heard. Stick with the issue at hand. Even if your friend does not forgive you, God does. God says you are forgiven, and He can make good out of a bad situation; He can heal hurting hearts, and redeem lost souls along the way!

If you are the one hurt by gossip, and your offender does not apologize, you can still forgive him or her in the name of Jesus. This will make you feel lighter, and it will free you from anger and bitterness. Give Jesus your pain. He can take it. He already took it at the cross for you!

“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” 

Psalm 63:3

 

(Photography includes model trains exhibit at the Brunswick Heritage Museum in Maryland.)

12 Steps to Forgiveness with Boundaries

Have you forgiven someone, only to be accused of harboring unforgiveness, because you’ve had to establish necessary boundaries for healing and protection? If you’re feeling guilty about having less contact because of an unhealthy or abusive relationship, the guilt is not from God. God does not want His children to be doormats. How can we forgive others, while keeping boundaries in place? How can we do both, while continuing to please God, as we daily walk with Christ?

We can recognize that God set boundaries and expected them to remain in place: “Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your ancestors” (Prov. 22:28 New International Version). We can take comfort in knowing that Jesus, himself, set boundaries: “And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith” (Matt. 13:58). We can take godly steps towards forgiving others, by seeking Jesus, as we put boundaries in place:

1. Set aside time to step away from your offender. Even Jesus retreated, and stepped away from the crowds of people in order to spend time with God, and pray. If the offender lives with you, step outside to clear your head, or go visit a friend. Walk away, and give yourself some space. If you need a quiet spot to talk to God, and can’t get away, find ten minutes to pray in the bathroom or your closet. Sit in your car, and read a Psalm. Retreat. Jesus is an example.

2. Pray this simple prayer: “I forgive (name of offender) in the name of Jesus.” We can’t do it alone. That’s why Jesus died for us. He died to forgive us of our sins, and to forgive others. Through Jesus, we can forgive others, grow our relationship with him, and show others the way to salvation. “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matt. 6:14). Jesus is forgiveness.

3. Ask God to remove your pain, and fill you with His Holy Spirit. It hurts when people sin against us, whether directly, or indirectly. Ask God to remove your pain. Then ask Him to go to the empty spot where pain once resided, and fill it with His love for you, until it’s overflowing! Jesus is a healer.

4. Ask God for wisdom in establishing healthy boundaries. God gives wisdom freely to those who ask. Wisdom will help you to discern what kind of boundary you will need to allow for healing: some contact, little contact, or no contact. You can do any of these, while still continuing to walk with Christ. Jesus is a teacher.

5. Ask God to give you strength and courage to keep the boundary. The devil will do everything possible in order to try and make you remove the boundary. He will find people to spread lies, gossip, strife, fear, and chaos. His intent is to plague you with anxiety, so that you will not change. He wants you to settle for staying in your old, familiar rut. If he can keep you ignorant of truth, you won’t go forward and learn about how Jesus can heal you and change your life. Jesus is strength.

6. Ask God to provide you with support. The devil has the goal of isolating you. He will use rejection, depression, doubt, and any other fiery darts he can throw at you, to try and convince you to remove your boundary. He knows the boundary is there for your protection, healing, and growth. He hates that God is going to heal, change, and use you to win others to Christ. God will put people in your life to replace those you’ve lost when you established the boundary. Your support will be comprised of Christians who know your heart, pray for you, and encourage you in your walk with God. They will fill in the missing gaps. Jesus is a friend.

7. Ask God to reveal truth in the hearts of those who come against you. The devil will deceive well-meaning people into believing that they are helping, when they come to you, trying to convince you to break down your boundary. They may not have knowledge about the whole truth of your situation, so they don’t understand. They may accuse you of being unforgiving, cruel, fake, or even anti-Christian. God knows your heart, and that is all that matters. However, God knows our need for love and fellowship, and He will provide everything we need. Don’t be afraid! God knows what He is doing! Jesus is truth.

8. Know that when you’re most tempted to break down your boundary, God is about to give you a big break-through! Keep your boundary. Continue to forgive others who hurt you, disrespect you, or shun you. God has a plan. The enemy wants to destroy you, but God means to use it all for good! Live your life, honoring God, knowing that the boundary is there for good reason. If it needs to come down, GOD will show you, and He will make it obvious. Be ready when God says it’s time. You will have a heart that has already forgiven, and your past pain will be behind you. Jesus is courage.

9. Read or listen to scripture, and pray. Scriptures keep us wrapped in truth. When we are struggling, God’s word lets us know that we are doing the right thing. Knowledge of the bible keeps us ready for the battles that will come our way, when we are doing something against the grain of what everyone else thinks we should be doing. God’s word is living and healing. It helps us to see others through the eyes of God. The bible helps us to see that Jesus loves everyone, even people who hurt us. The bible changes our thoughts. We can begin to develop love and understanding for our enemies, even if we don’t approve of, or accept their behavior. Jesus is comfort.

10. Pray for salvation for those who have hurt you. God says to pray for our enemies. The goal is for others, no matter how much they’ve hurt us, to gain salvation through Jesus Christ. Our prayers, and yes, even our boundaries, can help another person to receive eternal life. Jesus died for everyone. Pray that those who have hurt you will come to know Jesus. If those people are already saved, pray for their walk with The Lord. Realize that many people who profess to be Christians, are not really saved, and do not have a relationship with Jesus. “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers’ ” (Matt. 7:22-23)! Jesus is salvation.

11. Seek your own relationship with God, while the boundary is in place. During a time of separation from someone who has wronged you, allow God do His healing work in you. You will begin to see the damage in the people who hurt you, and realize they are broken just like you. This doesn’t excuse what they’ve done. It does give us insight into what Jesus did for us. Our sins put Jesus on the cross, and he died for us, even though we didn’t deserve it. It’s love beyond measure. “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:22-23). Jesus is love.

12. TRUST GOD. Understand that your boundary may allow time for the offender to draw closer to God. Recognize that the person who hurt you, is also deeply loved by God, and needs a relationship with Him. He or she may need time to dig deep down, and repent of his or her own sins. The boundary may create a void of loneliness and desperation, which only Jesus can fulfill. Your boundary may bring someone to true repentance, and draw that person towards a relationship with Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, your offender can heal, receive forgiveness for sins, and receive eternal life. This allows him or her a chance to live a godly life on earth. Only then, can true reconciliation occur. Jesus is protection.

There is a silver lining…God is in Control! Though your offender may continue to try and hurt you emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually, God is your protector. His Son, Jesus, heals our pain. Recognize that people may be struggle with jealousy, anger, or fear, when you place boundaries between them and yourself. Some people lash out in frustration, when they lose access to their ability to manipulate and control you. The devil thrives on ruined relationships, but God is All Powerful! “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). God is the one who is ultimately in control. With God as our protector, strength, and shield, we have already won every battle.

Though reconciliation is the ultimate goal, it’s not always possible. You do not have to allow an abusive person back into your life, to prove your forgiveness toward that person. This could even delay all the work God is doing in your life, and in the life of the abuser. Pray against guilt in the name of Jesus. We need godly relationships in our lives. Often, we need to step out, and let God step in and do His work. Sometimes we need to let others catch up, before we can be in a relationship with them.

It’s difficult to create a boundary, and even more difficult to keep it in place. But God’s silver lining is found in the amazing things He has planned for you during the storm. God will use your experience to make you stronger, healthier, and joyful. He will use your experience to bring glory to His name! God knows your heart. Forgive, leave your boundaries in place, pray, and continue to follow God. God will let you know when, and if, the boundary should be removed. Trust Him! He knows what He is doing! Jesus is Savior!

“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Ps. 16:6

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Sheepish Character? False Christians Cause Division! (Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing)

Taking an honest look into the character of the people around us, is one way to find out which people are actually wolves in sheep’s clothing.  It’s not that difficult, but it means we need to open our eyes to what the bible has to say about character, and then be willing to accept the truth, when we see the red flags.   Many people don’t want to face the fact that someone they know, and love, could be a wolf, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.  False Christians will cause division in your home, church, circle of friends, and communities.  

What is a false or fake Christian?  In the New Testament, the apostle Paul warns,  “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.  Keep away from them.  For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceived the minds of naive people” (Romans 16:17-18 New International Version).  They are not serving God, but they pretend that they do.

Have you ever had a positive relationship with someone, that was mainly a pleasant encounter for both of you? There was no animosity or hard feelings between the two of you; things were just fine?  Suddenly, out of the blue, that person started to avoid you.  If she called now and then to say hello, it stopped.  Comments on social media ended.  Your emails and text messages were ignored.  You knew that this friend or acquaintance was no longer just busy. Then something clicked.  You realized that your friend recently spent time with someone who has something against you; a gossip.  The gossip will not admit it, but she considers you to be an enemy, and she has once again slandered your name.  You’re well aware of it, because it’s a continuous, vicious cycle.  “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28).

By paying attention to the scriptures, we can protect ourselves from getting involved with a wolf in sheep’s clothing. These false Christians may speak like Christians, act like Christians, and appear to be walking like Christians.  But something is always off.  They are bitter and angry.  They are not growing.  They are not walking with The Lord.  For a variety of reasons, they are faking it.  You can visibly witness a true Christian’s walk with Jesus.  You will see him grow, and change over time. Christians actually lose their desire to sin, and they allow the Holy Spirit to open their hearts, guide them, and mold them into people who become more like Jesus.  Jesus doesn’t gossip and gather people to hate others.  He gathers them to spread love.

God acknowledges, in the bible, that there are people close to us, in our own churches, friendship circles, and families, who are fake Christians.  Jesus was betrayed by Judas, one of his own disciples. “Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:15).  The wolf, is an excellent actor, one with plenty of practice building a life around manipulation and lies. Some wolves hope to win you with self-pity.  They make it seem as if the world is against them.  They may visit your church, corner you when you’re alone, and tell you a sob story to make you feel sorry for them.  Some seek to use and con you for easy money, playing both you, and the system at the same time.  Some use flattery to try and win you over.  “Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet” (Proverbs 29:5).  

Other wolves will gossip, slander, and stab people in the back.  They hope to build an army of people who will hate the same people they hate.  They work to isolate the victims of their lies, so no one will talk to each other and find out the truth.  They don’t want to be alone in their sin, because then they would have to face the truth about themselves. If they are able to deceive us when we are already in the word of God, imagine the havoc they can create for those who are not reading the bible on a continuous basis.  God hates this kind of behavior, and He promises to take care of it; “Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate” (Psalm 101:5).  The bible is the tool that helps us to see through the manipulation and lies!

A wolf uses guilt in a cunning way.  She may try to make you feel bad for not spending more time with her, for not returning a phone call, or for spending time with other friends, especially if she has gossiped to those people about you.  Some wolves in sheep’s clothing are so good at getting their way, they will even manipulate you into doing their dirty work!   “Oh, I would never do that,” we might say. But if you’ve ever spoken on behalf of someone else, and jumped in on a whim to try and “help” them solve a problem that does not concern you, you’ve enabled the wolf to continue in sin. Who wants to help a wolf, and risk getting ripped to pieces?

“We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive.  They are not busy; they are busybodies” ( 2 Thessalonians 3:11). Haven’t we all at one time, found ourselves ignoring someone else, because of a rumor we heard about that person?  We felt so sorry for the wolf, we may have actually missed out on the truth of who was really being mistreated.  If you find yourself in a situation where you are no longer talking to a friend or relative with whom you previously enjoyed a relationship, because of some gossip you heard, consider that to be a red flag. Maybe letting go of the friend was subtle, such as dropping her from your party invitation list, or not stopping to have a quick chat in the grocery store when you normally would have.  Are we willing to give up friendships based on another’s perception, or will we be paying close attention to the character of the gossip and not fall prey to devious schemes?

A manipulating wolf will tell bold-faced lies, creatively weaving them with the truth, to make them sound more believable. Manipulators tend to blame and project their problems and issues onto an innocent scapegoat, in an effort to keep people from seeing the truth.  Being aware of these tactics enables us to remove our blindfolds, so that we can avoid being deceived by those trying to hide their own sin. After all, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17 English Standard Version).  When we hear things about others that don’t line up with their good character, we should question the character of the gossip.  We should ask God why we are in the situation as a listener.  Were we cornered or tricked?  Are we being persuaded to get involved? Are we strong enough to rebuke the wolf and say we won’t be part of it?

In grade school, we learn about the common denominator.  A wolf in sheep’s clothing causes strife everywhere he goes.  Strife is the opposite of peace.  Have you ever spent time with someone, in varied environments, situations, and company, and later realized that every time you’re with this someone, you just don’t feel good after your time together?  Maybe afterwards, you feel anxious, guilty, angry, or depressed?  This person is the common denominator!  A wolf stirs up stress, problems, and drama.  He brings out the worst in everyone: jealousy, envy, hate, self-righteousness, pride, and more.  Isn’t it interesting that every time the wolf leaves your home, you end up feeling …down?  That’s because evil spirits at work have been having a field day.  “An arrogant man stirs up strife, But he who trusts in the Lord will prosper” (Proverbs 28:25 New American Standard Bible).

A wolf in sheep’s clothing will be extra eager to tear apart a Christian brother or sister. Godly people do not do this. They seek to establish boundaries, take time to heal and forgive others, and allow others to do the same.  They seek restoration of relationships, yet they also know which relationships are harmful, and which ones need to be cut off, whether for short term or long term.  The opposite of a wolf, is a true Christian walking with God.  A true Christian seeks to lift up others and encourage them.  You can look at the character of a true Christian, when deciding who you should believe and trust.  If you’re in a difficult situation, and think you may be dealing with a wolf in sheep’s clothing, look at the character of the people involved.  “But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging, and comfort” (1 Corinthians 14:3 NIV).  You should feel good about yourself after spending time with a Christian who is walking with God.  Love should emanate from then, and your heart should feel joyful.  You should have a sense of peace after you have spent time together.

It can be difficult sometimes, when we are battling the truth, but if we spend time praying, reading our bibles, and talking to God, He will teach us who we can trust.  Pray against deceit.  Ask God for wisdom, and He will “pull the wool from your eyes”. We may be saved by grace, but are we walking the Christian walk?  Let’s follow Jesus, the great shepherd, rather than blindly going along with what the rest of the flock believe.  Don’t let a wolf steal you away.  Let the Lord be your shepherd.

What to do…

… if you’re a wolf:

Ask God to forgive you for being deceitful. Come clean, and ask forgiveness of those you have lied to and lied about.  Seek out a Christian counselor who can help you identify your sinful patterns and help you onto a path of healing.

… if you’re an enabler

Ask God to forgive you for being an enabler.  Ask God to give you the courage to say no to people who gossip. Ask Him to show you how to create healthy boundaries.  Ask forgiveness of anyone you have hurt with your enabling.  Seek Christian counseling, if you feel you may be getting involved with others’ problems to make up for past pain that needs healing.

 

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© 2014 Photography – Jacob Pelleman
“For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.  As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.  The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the innermost parts of the body” (Prov. 26:20-22).

Read more about this topic in Pursue the Shepherd to Escape the Wolves, and by clicking on the topic narcissism at The Silver Lining homepage. 

 

 

Gossip, Lies, and Slander? No worries! God has Your Back!

by Angela Royse Pelleman

The bible tells us we shouldn’t be concerned when others gossip about us.  When others slander us behind our backs, telling lies, it’s so good to know that God has our back!  We can trust in Him completely, because He is Truth, and it will eventually come out.  Those who belong to the Lord don’t have to be discouraged, because when people slander you for walking in truth, you will be set free.  The bible says you will be blessed for it.  “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you”  (Matthew 5:10-12 New American Standard).

One day, I sat down specifically looking for bible verses that prove God protects us from slanderous lies.  Immediately, I discovered an email from a spiritual sister who does prayer drawings each day.  She draws, while praying, and then writes her devotion based on the image God has provided.  I opened my email that day to find the perfect verse sitting in front of me:  “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.  Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them.  Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all.  For I am the Lord, you God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you’ ” (Isaiah 41: 11-13 New International Version).

My spiritual sister had been given a drawing of a jester; her devotion was about fools, and how we are not to contend with them.  God has a sense of humor, and confirmed His message, when a co-worker showed up at her door in a silly jester hat she had just made.  Bells and all, she modeled it from the doorway, as my spiritual sister finalized her devotion!  My sister had even prayed her message would reach “someone specific” that day, and that it would be verified.  I was that “someone specific”.  The devotion’s message contained a warning; contending with foolish people robs us of our peace.  God wants us to have peace.  I’m so excited about the freedom that this brings!  This knowledge takes all kinds of stress off my plate!  It means I don’t have to do anything at all, except to trust in my Father God to take care of it for me.

If you are anything like me, your first reaction to gossip, lies, and slander, is to defend yourself.  I used to jump to this immediately.  “Lie about me?  I’m going to set you straight!  I’m going to email you right back and tell you like it really is.  Then, I’m going to call all my friends and family members and tell them what you just did to me, and make sure they know the truth!  How could you do this?  It needs to be fixed…right now!”  No, it doesn’t.  Yes, your name is out there.  Yes they are talking about you.  Lies are told, and your name is being slandered.  The bible itself says, “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends”  (Proverbs 16:28).

Perhaps God is allowing this trial, because someone along the way needs to learn a simple lesson: If someone is gossiping to you, then they are gossiping about you.  Everyone gets hurt at some point, and we are all blind until God opens our eyes.  Perhaps healing is needed in someone else’s life, and God has given you the strength to handle it.   Perhaps you need growth in this area yourself.  Sometimes a few hearts get broken along the way. God offers a wealth of advice and warnings throughout the book of Proverbs, in order to help us avoid getting involved in some of these situations.  When things are not our fault, we can take comfort in the fact that God will take care of it at just the right time.

You can get all worked up about it, and lose sleep over losing friends, or you can turn it all over to the Lord, and let Him take care of it all in His perfect timing.  It may be that He’s filtering out “friends” who do not know how valuable you are to God, or “friends” that are unhealthy for you.  Perhaps some of these people are not your “friends” at all.  God may be doing His work through some of these people and you, to accomplish a higher purpose for His glory.  He will not leave you behind while doing this.  He will lavish you with blessings.

Jesus was insulted, spat upon, beaten, and ultimately killed.  He did not deserve it, but he accepted God’s will, because he knew it would give us a chance to be saved.  He loved us that much.  Can we do the same? Even though people sinned and treated him terribly, he overlooked his mistreatment, and still loved, healed and prayed for all sinners.  That means you and me.  “And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments” (Luke 23:34 English Standard Version).

When you are slandered, follow God.  God gives boundaries.  Boundaries protect our well -being.  We should pray for people who hurt us, and love them in a Christ-like manner, but we do not have to accept or tolerate behavior that is bad or abusive. “Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul” (Proverbs 22:24-25 New Living Translation).  People who lie and gossip are angry.  Get away from them, before you become trapped in their webs.  “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard, or swindler.  Do not even eat with such people” (1 Corinthians 5:11). It’s clear that it is acceptable not to communicate with people who slander you.  This is not unforgiveness. In fact, it is obedience to God, and He will protect you and bless you for it.

Jesus also used silence as a boundary.  He knew that his Father, God, would take care of him:  “Then Pilate asked him, ‘Aren’t you going to answer?  See how many things they are accusing you of.’  But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed” (Mark 15: 4-5 NIV).  You are not obligated to answer questions involving slander.  It gives you more free time, and it is liberating for your spirit when you realize you don’t have to do anything at all, except leave it to God!   The bible says so!  “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:14 ESV).  I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty good deal to me!  “You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son.  These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself.  But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you” (Psalms 50: 20-21 ESV).  Jesus knows all about it.  That’s because he went through it too.

God gives many opportunities for people to ask forgiveness for sin and to truly repent.  “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful ad effective” (James 5:16 NIV).  The bible gives clear instructions on how the church is to deal with unrepentant hearts.  The book of Matthew, chapter 18, clearly outlines what should be done.  Until then, boundaries must remain in place.

When there is true repentance for slander, lies, and gossip, there comes a change within a person, a desire to be more like Jesus.  It is possible for a person to change, and turn her life around.  Until God shows you without a doubt, that a person has repented of slanderous behavior and is now living life with a true, Godly change of heart, as difficult as it may be, do not remove the boundary.  “Do not move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set” (Proverbs 22:28 NAS).  Take comfort in the fact that God is the ultimate boundary, and He’s in charge.  All we have to do is follow Him.

A 33-year-old drawing created by Angela when she was in sixth grade. The blonde girl in the foreground is observing three girls in the background. Sadly, two girls are gossiping about the third girl behind her back.

© 2014 Angela Royse Pelleman – The Silver Lining