Real-life experiences are often the best teaching moments. Sitting in his office, he nervously conveyed a third-party conversation he had heard regarding my private meeting with a woman in our congregation I was counseling. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The accusations this woman was nattering about me were so far from my character and biblical foundations that I laughed out of shock and utter disbelief.
Even more shocking was the person sharing this with me was someone I respected and valued as a friend. His participation in the conversation and his consideration that I would make such unloving and egregious statements to this woman was incomprehensible. At that moment, the pain I felt in my heart was beginning to sever the relationship with the people I loved.
That is what a judgmental spirit does. It uses gossip, false accusations, unfounded assumptions, and lies to break the bonds of trust. Judgmentalism claims to read people’s minds. Despite no evidence, it falsely claims to know the motives of others. A spirit of judgmentalism shows up in a person who is addicted to gossip and claims to have ‘secret’ information that only they know which they use to clobber the victim of their false claims. It is highly suspicious, and paranoid, and doesn’t give anyone the benefit of the doubt. The enemy uses FEAR to motivate gossip and judgementalism by making us believe that others are trying to take advantage of us, take what is ours, and threaten our value and significance.
There is not enough makeup, clothing, or jewelry that will cover up the ugliness of a gossipy and judgmental heart.
Zechariah 8:16-17, “These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord.”
TRUST, on the other hand, is one of the strong characteristics of healthy judgment. TRUST takes a look at the evidence and refuses to pass judgment on others unless there is evidence to substantiate doing so. TRUST does not rely on third-party conversations or gossip but defends what they know to be true by honoring the character of others and respecting their privacy. TRUST is an outcome of LOVE.
Proverbs 11:13, “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.”
If you struggle with gossip and judgmentalism please know that Jesus empathizes with you and cares deeply for your emotional and spiritual health. By relying on the Holy Spirit to capture those spiraling thoughts and overwhelming emotions of fear and insecurity, with your willing heart and God’s power you can learn to tame those impulses.
TOOLS THAT COMBAT GOSSIP AND JUDGMENTALISM
- CHANGE THE TOPIC: If gossip is taking over a conversation kindly interject – “Let’s talk about something else”. Shift the conversation to a positive and constructive subject.
- ASK QUESTIONS: Shutting down gossip and judgmentalism can be as simple as asking a question – “Did you witness this first hand? Did they share this with you? Is this information for you to tell?”
- STOP: If your tongue gets the best of you and destroys the character of others – STOP IT! There are deeper issues that the enemy is tapping into to rob you of trusting relationships, destroy your character, and cause others to distance themselves from you.
- TURN: If you are a victim of false accusations, judgmentalism, and gossip like I was, turn it over to Jesus. Give him your hurt, anger, and grief asking him to change the story from lies to truth. Ask Jesus to heal your wounds and give you opportunities to speak the truth where he permits you to.
- FORGIVENESS: If you are the one causing pain by gossiping and being judgmental of others, turn to Jesus, my friend. He is the One who will forgive you, give you a new heart, and fill you with His Spirit of truth. That forgiveness is now a powerful tool for you to build broken relationships back. You do that by asking the people you have lied about, broken trust with, and falsely judged to forgive you. I am sure they will. If you have been hurt by someone’s judgmental accusations, forgive them. I know this can be hard but the alternative is to allow that pain to fester into resentment, bitterness, and hate which will rob you of joy and destroy you quicker than someone’s loose lips.
- GO TO THE SOURCE: This is where the power of the Holy Spirit brings us the ability to resolve conflict through biblical resolution. Sometimes, confronting those who are speaking falsely about you is required to bring understanding, forgiveness, and healing. This is prayerfully approached because going to the source is not about proving a point or making the other person feel bad for what they did. Rather, it is to bring understanding, forgiveness, and healing. If you are not willing to hear them with your heart and try to understand their thought process, they will know it and not listen to anything you have to say. People need to know you care before they will listen to you.
You might be wondering what the outcome of my experience was. Well, I did confront the individual who was being judgmental and gossiping about me. I came to understand that her painful past caused her to translate my message with a destructive narrative. After a long talk and clarification, we cleared it all up. Sometimes, it is as simple as a misunderstanding.