Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Taking Resisting Gossip Seriously

One of the most gratifying thing about being the author of Resisting Gossip is interacting with readers who are using it to study God’s word and grow in discipleship.

I recently had this email interaction with a Bible study leader whose group had been struggling with questions that the opening story of chapter seven (about a landlord who was hurt by the gossip spread by a supposedly Christian tenant) had raised.

It’s so encouraging to hear that people are taking these truths to heart.


Bible Study Leader:  Hi Matt,

One of the ladies in my Resisting Gossip group came to me yesterday. We are studying the chapter this week concerning when you are the target of gossip. She was significantly concerned about the fact that "William" did not confront "Nicholas" as a brother in Christ about what he was doing. She asked if you were saying that confrontation of the gossipers was not a valid step in the process when you are the target.

I told her that I doubted very much that that was what you were trying to communicate, but that your focus was on turning to God to help us deal with it. She asked if I could ask you about it. It genuinely disturbed her.  I think she felt that if William didn't confront, he was unnecessarily allowing himself to be more of a victim than he was, and that he was not allowing God the option of working conviction in Nicholas' heart.

Is there more to the story about this that you didn't share because of the focus you were aiming at?

Thanks for clearing this up!

Me:  Great question!

Please thank your classmate for caring so much about my friend "William!"

You are right that this chapter is about trusting God with our reputations. The next chapter is about loving our enemies–one of the valid biblical strategies there is confronting. You'll probably get to it in your next class time. Hopefully that will help her.

So, what I was emphasizing here was how William tried to control his reputation but couldn't and needed to trust God with it.

I'm not sure if in real life William did confront "Nicholas" about that part of their conflict. He definitely confronted him on other parts of their broken relationship and the gossip would have been fair game. But even if he had, William would need to continue to trust God with all of the places where the lies had been spread.

Does that help?

Bible Study Leader:   Sure does. I've read the book, but am working through it again chapter by chapter and had forgotten that. I will share your answer with her and set her heart at ease.

Me: Great!

I do mention William again in the next chapter briefly, but I don't bring up his story to say that he should have or could have confronted. That would have been a good way of tying the two chapters together.

I love that people are reading this and thinking deeply about living as Christian in these situations.  It's a joy to be used in this way. Please thank your friend for me for reading it and interacting with it so thoroughly.

Bible Study Leader:  All of the women in my group are.  They have even committed to holding each other accountable in this area. I've been so excited to see how seriously they are taking it. I also have 3 others, in addition to the 11 in the group, who are reading it one their own and interacting with it at a deep level. It has been one of the most applied studies that I've done in a while.

We recently lost one of our pastors – he was asked to resign. That usually leads to a lot of gossip and rumors. That was one of the main reasons I had wanted to do this book. I think it has helped put out a couple of little fires that could have spread among certain groups.

Me: So encouraging to hear these stories!