"Can you believe what she said about me????"
"I feel like I'm always being talked about behind my back."
"It seems like people are always judging me."
How many times have we thought--or even said--things like this? Nothing is more hurtful than being talked about or judged! Sometimes it seems like pastor's wives are a target of such gossip more than is their "fair share". But what does the Bible say about being criticized like this?
One of the most unique books in the Bible is Ecclesiastes. It is one of Solomon's books of wisdom, and it is written in a more conversational tone than Proverbs is. It kind of feels like having a heart-to-heart chat with Solomon himself.
Solomon, inspired by the Holy Spirit, has an interesting opinion on how we should handle gossip. Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 says, "Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee: For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others." It is so amazing how a Book written centuries ago can still be relevant today! Human nature doesn't change. Solomon is saying, "Hey--don't bother listening to everything people say, because if you do, you're probably going to hear someone say something bad about you. But that's no reason to get upset, because you know very well that you have occasionally said disparaging things about others." Basically, it's part of life that people are going to say negative things about other people. There's no way around it. You will eventually be gossiped about, if you haven't been already. So the best way to handle it is to ignore it, and to remind ourselves that we haven't alawaysbeen gracious to others, either.
So that means we can just go ahead and gossip, as long as we don't get mad if we are the target--right? Wrong! Solomon has something to say about that, too. Ecclesiastes 10:20 tells us, "Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter." (As a side note, the famous saying, "A little birdie told me," comes directly from this passage). Solomon reminds us that gossip will almost always get us in trouble. He says we shouldn't even think something hurtful about someone else in our mind (that's a tough one!) because it will usually end up getting around to the wrong person. How many times have we had that happen--we said something we thought was safe, and it ended up getting us into a tight situation? It's not fun, and it can really mess up our testimony.
Obviously, gossip isn't something that should be allowed as a regular thing in our churches. God hates gossip and the sowing of discord among brothers and sisters in Christ. We should all be striving for love and unity in our churches. However, it is inevitable that we will occasionally hear something negative being said about us. How do we handle it? Just ignore it. Remember we aren't perfect, and we have done the same thing to others at some point. In God's eyes, it is much better to be gossiped about than to be the one gossiping. So, in 2017, remember not to listen to everything being said around you. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.
About the Author:
Suzy Vanhoose is the wife of Pastor Danny Vanhoose from Grace Independent Baptist Church in the suburbs of Philadelphia. They have four sons, and have served at their church for over fourteen years. Suzy is also a high school teacher at a local Christian school. When she isn't busy with church, school, and family, Suzy enjoys reading books, writing poetry, baking, and anything else that isn't housework.