Not long ago, I sat in a restaurant having a delicious lunch while visiting with a good friend. It’s what we were meant to do. Eat and enjoy each other’s company. Encourage one another. But soon, the conversation took a wrong turn when my friend started voicing displeasure about a mutual acquaintance. I listened to my friend, willing myself not to chime in. I instantly knew this was not what we were meant to do: gossip. By the end of the meal, I was glad I had not added to the gossip. But the problem did not end there.
The entire time my lunch companion was talking about how this other person had bothered her with their selfish actions (in her view), I was agreeing with her on the inside. I thought if I just didn’t agree with her outwardly and add to the conversation I would be okay. Right? After all, the Lord tells us not to gossip. Just by pure will I didn’t say anything negative, but I wanted to though. I wanted to agree outwardly with every word that was said because I was in total agreement inwardly. And therein lies the problem.
“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inner most parts.” Proverbs 18:8
Later that day, I asked the Lord why it was so hard for me to stay quiet. Why was I struggling not to gossip? I know in His word, that the Lord does not want us to talk idly about each other. I’ve been in many situations where gossip sprang up its ugly head and I had no problem ignoring it or squashing it depending on the situation. But this time was different. So I went to the Lord because I don’t want to be in a place that is contrary to His will. I knew that if a repeat of the conversation started again, I might not resist the temptation to agree outwardly. I didn’t want to be tempted to gossip.
I had to get to the HEART of the problem.
The solution was not avoid my friend who did the talking, thus avoiding temptation, but it was to ask the Lord to change my own evil heart. Yes, MY evil heart. This is the part where the Lord says “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3) – Not my friends or anyone else’s heart, but mine. You see, we are only tempted by our own evil desires – whatever that may be. For me, in this situation, I was tempted to talk about someone else behind their back.
The Lord showed me if I’m tempted to do something wrong, then it is my heart that is not right. The only way I would win the battle would be through a heart change. And the only way to get a change of heart is through prayer and His word.
Sounds easy enough.
But the prayer was not easy. After all, I had to face my own heart problem about the person who was being talked about. I had to ask the Lord to reveal to me my own tempestuous heart against someone else. The Lord is good and kind, and will always correct us with gentleness. That’s why its not hard to come to the Lord with those honest “show me myself” requests to the Lord. He is a sweet, gentle, loving Father who guides and directs us whenever we ask. But if we really want change, there is some work to be done: repentance and forgiveness.
Then I had to repent. Repent for the way I’ve thought about this other person, repent for not praying for them, repent for not viewing them in the light of The Father’s love for them just as He loves me. I had to repent for taking on an offense against them. And I had to forgive and ask forgiveness.
Repentance and Forgiveness are key to our ongoing transformation of our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
This is what “being transformed” is all about. We have to look to the Lord for that transformation and keep looking to Him. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)