Last year, about this time, I went on another, “I’m fat. I really need to get healthy” kick, and it was at this time that I first joined the purple-tastic Planet Fitness. I immediately signed up for classes and met with a trainer. She was nice and strongly encouraged me to push my limits of time and energy, but when things got hectic, everything fell through. I stopped going to the gym for months. With this new Love Myself Enough Challenge through July (and hopefully beyond), I have started back up at the gym. I met with the trainer, but I was surprised when it was not the lady I met with a year ago. He is a gentleman who has been so understanding and encouraging! I have loved learning to workout, and I love that I am already seeing small results!
Today, as I was leaving the gym for Day 10 of the Love Myself Enough Challenge, I saw the old trainer from a year ago. We recognized each other and said hello, but I continued to leave. On my way home, I thought, “I should ask my trainer what happened with her.” But then Holy Spirit butted in and said, “What? Why do you need to know that?” I responded, “Because I care.” And Holy Spirit said, “Do you? Or are you just curious?” And thus began the following thought: How many times within the church do we mask gossip under the blanket of compassion and prayer?
“Be sure you pray for Miss Susie Q. She is going through a really hard time in her marriage. She…”
“Be sure you pray for Miss Janey B. She is still struggling from her alcohol and drug addictions from college 20 years ago! She…”
“Hey, did you see what Mister Frankie D said on Facebook? What do you think it means? Do you think he did… I’m really concerned for him!”
“I’ve been seeing stuff on Facebook about Betty, and I am concerned for her. Do you know what is going on?”
I know I am 100% guilty of asking these kind of questions. I mask it as I am concerned and want to pray for them, but let’s be real. I ain’t going to say more than probably a 30 second prayer. I care only because I am curious, and at the root of it all is pride that says, “I want to know they are struggling so my struggles are more justified. I want to feel better about myself.”
The Word is clear about gossip and how we should guard our tongue. “A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence” (Prov. 11:13 NLT). “A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends” (Prov. 16:28 NLT). Gossip is listed as wickedness in Romans 1:29. And James is very clear about the power of the tongue, comparing it to the rudder of a boat, a bit in a horses mouth, and a tiny spark that lights a fire. We urged to learn to control our tongue, which is obviously bigger than just gossip, but gossip is still a part of that instruction.
The truth is, fellow followers of Christ, if I truly care, if you truly care, you can pray without knowing the details. I can pray for my old trainer. I can allow the Holy Spirit to help guide my prayers. And if someone asks you about someone else whom you know exactly what to pray for, be discrete. Tell that gossip, “She is going through some stuff and could use your prayers. Pray for strength” (or comfort, peace, etc. Something generally generic that the person could use). Or tell them, “I don’t know,” if that is true, “but perhaps we should pray for him.” We are not obligated to know the details in order to pray, so if you really are concerned and you really are compassionate, nothing is stopping you from doing the most powerful thing you can do. Pray.
God, help me remove the blanket of gossip in my heart, and instead to truly pray and care enough about people to not pry.