". . .not false accusers. . ." (Titus 2:3).
One of the earliest Sunday school songs I can remember from my childhood has a verse that goes like this:
Oh, be careful, little mouth, what you say,
Oh, be careful, little mouth, what you say,
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love,
So be careful, little mouth, what you say.
(Other verses talk about what our ears hear, what our minds think, what our hands do, what our eyes see, where our feet go, and what our hearts love.)
Later, when we children were older and talked on the phone a lot, my mother posted these questions next to the phone:
Is it kind?
Is it true?
Is it necessary?
The phrase "false accusers" in Titus 2:3 comes from the Greek word diabolos, the name given to Satan. In fact, almost every time this word is used in the Greek New Testament, it is translated devil. Only three times is this word used to describe humans. Ladies, you're not going to like this, but two out of three times, this word is used to describe female humans. The third time is found in 2 Timothy 3:3 in a list that generally describes the human race during the "perilous times" of the "last days." Look that up some time and study it out. It is a sobering passage.
Right now let's look at the two times diabolos is used to describe women--or rather, what godly women should not be.
Titus 2:3, the verse that lists the characteristics of godly older women, says that we are not to be false accusers.
1 Timothy 3:11, the verse that lists the characteristics of deacons' wives, says that they are not to be slanderers.
False accusers, slanderers. Or as one pastor put it, "full of the devil." Why such strong terminology? Have you ever been in a church where the women gossiped? I have. It is not a pretty sight. I wonder if any sin of the church, especially among the ladies, grieves the Holy Spirit more. And guess when Christian women gossip the most? When sharing prayer requests. It generally goes like this:
"Pray for so-and-so. Did you know she. . .?"
"*Gasp* No! When did that happen?"
"Well, remember when. . .?"
And on it goes. Or they gossip when they're praying. If you listen carefully, you can tell the difference between when someone is really praying and when they are actually informing the listeners of a particular turn of events.
So how do we gain the victory over this sin? I just read the most triumphant passage. Here it is, with the literal meanings of certain Greek words in brackets:
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent [artfully malicious person], called the Devil [false accuser], and Satan [the accuser], which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser [complainant at law] of our brethren is cast down, which accused [brought charges against] them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Does that not just bring a thrill to your soul? I read that, and I just wanted to shout! I mean, here's this battle going on in heaven. It starts out as a court case with Satan bringing charges against us day and night. He just never stops accusing us of this, that, and the other thing. Finally it all comes to a head and a war breaks out. But Satan and all his demons cannot prevail. Michael and his angels win, and the Enemy is cast out, and I can just imagine all heaven bursting out with cheers of "GLORY TO GOD!!!!" The pandemonium when the home team wins the World Series would not even come close. You would have to magnify that by about a billion times.
So how'd they do it? What were their weapons? What was their tactic?
1. By the blood of the Lamb. When we lived in the South, an oft-repeated phrase in prayer was "I plead the blood of Christ." You know in your heart that what Satan is accusing you of just might be true. You DID commit that sin. You KNOW you're guilty. BUT it's under the blood. "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). So when Satan accuses us before the Father, He says there's no sin there. All He sees is the blood of His Son.
2. By the word of their testimony. Because the Lamb shed His blood for us, we are worshippers of Him. He helps us to remain faithful to Him, thus making Satan's accusations meaningless. "Yes, I did commit that sin. But Christ shed His blood for me, and now I'm following Him, and Him alone."
3. And they loved not their lives unto the death. They loved the praise of God more than their own lives, more than the glory of man. Read John 12:43, Matthew 10:32-39, and Mark 8:34-37.
So how does this apply to overcoming gossip?
1. Plead the blood. Ask Christ to cleanse you of the sin of gossip. Remember the work that He did for you on the cross. Would you trample that work and grieve the Lover of your soul by continuing in this sin? Further, if you are continuing in this sin, might that not be a sign that He has not saved you? Read 1 John 2:4-6.
2. Abide in Christ. The word Christian means "follower of Christ." Has Christ led you to gossip or to love? Read John 13:34-35; Proverbs 10:12; and 1 Peter 4:8.
3. Apply the J-O-Y rule: Put Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 22:37-39).