I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
By Julia Cooke (WITHIN Devo Contributor)
“I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:1
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
“Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.” Proverbs 11:13
Gossip, for me, is one of the most contemptible things a person can do. And I probably feel this way because gossip, for me, is one of the sins that I find most alluring.
Let me give you an example: just last week, I was with a group of older women who were gossiping about another woman whom we all knew. As usual, as soon as the group began to gossip, I felt my spirit rise in (obviously righteous) anger at the injustice of hearing other individuals—particularly other Christians—speaking ill of someone behind her back. So I called the women out on their gossip. For the rest of the week, I felt great, knowing I had done what was right.
How the Lord humbles. At the end of the week, I was in a conversation with a girl from my old faith community. She began to gossip about a leader in that community, and, before I knew it, I was joining her in speculating about the nasty rumor she had brought up. With a jolt, I realized what I was saying. I felt horribly guilty and ashamed.
This last incident caused me to pray in a way that I haven’t in a while. When I became a believer, God promised to make me a new creation. Here I was, still a sinner and after the same pattern of gossip that I had been prone to in my pre-Christian days, speaking in a manner that might actually be more destructive than the thoughtless words for which I had condemned the older ladies. What was I doing? Hadn’t the Lord changed me?
Paul’s call to new believers in the fourth chapter of Ephesians are words that we should etch into our hearts so deeply that we live them out every single day. For those of us who are in community together as co-laborers in Christ, Ephesians 4 is the essence of what it means to be Christ-like during ordinary life. “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” I find these words elevating and inspiring when they are on the page, yet I need to preach them to myself every day to avoid crumpling into my old nature when I am facing everyday challenges and tests of character. The saint, exhorts Paul, does not act holy only when she is feeling a “spiritual high,” but also in the midst of the common drudgery of life. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). I have a daily choice to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God, and to be renewed in the spirit of my mind.
Lord, I pray that you would continuously make me into a new creation, causing me to humble myself in order to glorify you, treating fellow believers in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called, in true righteousness and holiness.