When I was in elementary school there was little saying that kids would chant to the local bully, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” But when you stop and think about it, the saying isn’t accurate. Words can and do hurt – sometimes worse than physical pain – and once said, can never be taken back or forgotten.
I can remember years back when I was a varsity basketball coach, I had a school board member always coming up and patting me on the back and telling me how good I was doing. He seemed sincere in his recognition and respect of my program. Being young and naïve I never thought twice about it. But as time went on, I began to hear that he was backstabbing me and gossiping about my coaching, my philosophy, my rotations, etc.… At first I didn’t want to believe it – he seemed so nice and supportive in person – but it was true. It was a tough lesson for me to learn.
Maybe you’ve experienced a similar situation or know someone that has. An individual recognizes and praises you in person, but it’s all just lip service. Why do people do this? Maybe they have ulterior motives, or are just plain jealous of hard work and success. Whatever the reason, it is not fun. Or, maybe you have fallen into that trap. Maybe you are the one talking about someone or gossiping behind their back. Be honest with yourself about this and don’t make excuses if you’re doing it. Truly recognizing and respecting others comes from our hearts – a heart that loves God and loves others.
Romans 1:28-30 – Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents.
1 John 4:8 – But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
“Dear Lord, forgive us for not always loving others like we should. Don’t let us fall into the trap of gossiping, but rather that of true recognition and respect of others. Give us a heart that loves others like you do. It’s in Jesus name I pray, Amen.”