One of the most powerful passages in the Bible is Romans 1:16,17 where Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” These verses are so powerful because they teach us that the way to salvation is revealed to us by God in the Bible. Only God’s righteousness can save us. In other words, the only way to be saved from sin is His way, and His way is revealed in the Bible.
One of the most damaging sins in the religious world today is gossip. James 3:1-12 tells us “...how great a forest a little fire kindles. And the tongue is a fire”. (vs. 5,6). The worst type of gossip is the result of self-righteousness, which is opposed to God’s righteousness revealed in the Bible. It is the result of the judging that Jesus condemns in Matt. 7:1-5. One who studies Paul’s work in the book of Acts is able to see how his enemies followed him everywhere he went spreading rumors and lies about him trying to destroy everything he accomplished. It didn’t do him any good to try to reason with them. All he could do was defend himself with the Truth, and reveal what they were trying to do, and why they were doing it. They were doing it because they were blind to the Truth, and only believed what they wanted to believe. This is characteristic of all who willfully spread gossip.
There are people today who enjoy telling people where they should work, when they should work, what kind of work they should do, who they should marry, when they should marry, how many kids they should have, when they should have kids, where their kids should go to school, when and how to discipline their kids, if they should discipline their kids, and many, many other things that God leaves up to the individual who knows more about his business than anybody. If the poor souls who are only doing what they know is best refuse to comply and don’t let the self-righteous ones tell them what to do, then the self-righteous ones spread their gossip, rumors, and even lies. There are many, including myself, who know from experience what I am writing about today. I know this isn’t God’s righteousness at work. It isn’t the work of the church. It doesn’t fit His revealed pattern for us. It isn’t God’s fault. It is arrogance. It is self-righteousness when it is uninvited.
People who obey God’s righteousness revealed in the Bible are able to avoid gossiping themselves, and are strong enough to deal with it when faced with it from others. In Matt. 5:23,24, Jesus says that if you “remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly.” In Matt. 18:15-17 He still says, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault BETWEEN YOU AND HIM ALONE. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you ONE OR TWO MORE, that by the mouth of TWO OR THREE witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”
I am convinced that if Christians would obey God’s righteousness instead of trying to save others and be saved by their own, they would practice these words instead of hearing them and going off and forgetting what they heard. As a result, the church would be blessed. There would be less gossip. More of us would grow spiritually, as we would learn from each other by example as well as what’s written, and the church would grow in numbers as the world would see our example. “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another.” (Gal. 5:15)
Timothy A. Sundlie
Preacher/Evangelist for the La Crosse church of Christ