“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much."
This verse caught my attention today as I was reading my Bible. Yes, I know it is a sin to gossip and I work hard not to do this, but what about talking too much? Talking too much is what leads to gossip in the first place, so just maybe if I worked on this part, I wouldn't struggle with gossip in the first place.
I thrive off of people. It seems like a lot of women are this way. We love friendships and we love sharing our experiences with others as well as learning from the experiences of others. While this is a good thing and these conversations can provide encouragement and affirmation, conversations can get us into trouble too. When we are busy talking away and/or when we don't have a purpose with our words, we begin to talk about things that we should keep to ourselves.
I am all too guilty of this. When I look back at the conversations that have gotten me into trouble, many times it's because I did not keep a tight reign over my tongue and I just kept talking and talking and talking without first thinking about the words that are coming out of my month. Here are some questions I'm learning to ask myself before I enjoy the conversation of others:
- Is it my place to discuss this? How many times do we, as women, take it upon ourselves to solve someone else's problems when they have not even asked for our help in the first place? Yes, it is good to be helpful, but maybe they don't want our help or our words of advice. If this is the case, we need to keep our opinions to ourselves. By talking to a friend about someone else's problems, I am not helping the problem but talking about something that is none of my business. On a different note, by sharing something that is not our news to share, we may be depriving someone of the joy of sharing their news in the first place. I remember when my husband and I got engaged. I was so excited to share the news with my friends. But, I called the wrong friend first. In her excitement, she let everyone know and I didn't get to tell anyone who did not already know the news. Now, my friend was not intentionally trying to steal my joy, but by telling news that was not hers to tell in the first place, it kept me from enjoying the moment.
"A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers."
- What is the purpose of my speech? I have learned that, when I don't have a purpose in my talk, I mindlessly talk about whatever is on my mind. This is a dangerous place to be in because our minds are full of junk and we need to think through our words before we speak them. If I know the purpose of my conversation (ex. planning a party for a friend), I can better stop myself when I get off topic and see the conversation going somewhere it shouldn't.
"Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone."
- Is my conversation building someone up or tearing someone down? Not all conversations are going to be pleasant. Sometimes problems have to be addressed. But, if my overall conversation is geared towards tearing someone down, then I need to re-think the purpose of my conversation. My goal should be to build others up, not tear them down.
"Don't let any evil talk come out of your mouths. Say only what will help to build others up and meet their needs. Then what you say will help those who listen."
- Would my husband care if I'm having this conversation? This is a question I am learning to ask myself more and more. While I am open about a lot of things that happen in my life, my husband may not want certain details of his life shared with others. If I am unsure that he would want me to share something, then I should wait and ask him first. Above all else, I need to respect his wishes first before I say something that can't be undone.
"Her husband trusts her completely. She gives him all the important things he needs. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."
- Do I feel as if I owe it to someone to answer a question? I think we've all been in this place. A close friends of ours asks us a question that we know we shouldn't discuss. But, we don't want our friend to get offended or to think that we don't trust them, so we give in and tell them anyway. I am learning that it is okay to tell a close friend that I'm not at liberty to discuss something and that it has nothing to do with trusting them. A true friend will learn to respect your wishes and not push you to say something that you shouldn't.
"Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body,sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell...With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. "
James 3:5-6, 9-10
We all need to learn to use our words wisely because they will define what kind of person we are. I want to be known as someone who uses my words wisely, not as someone who talks too much. Talking too much can cause us all kinds of trouble. I hope I can remember these verses the next time I am tempted to say things I should not say.