Okay, seriously. Why isn’t there a word for the concept I’m thinking about? Somebody should invent the word I need. Or maybe there is one, but I don’t think of or know it. If so, please tell me. It’s been driving me crazy all month.
So the word I need is the exact opposite of gossip or slandering. I haven’t been able to find a word that describes precisely what I’m looking for. But one day during family devotions, the expression ‘ambassadors of love’ turned up on the page of the devotional we use. I loved the phrase right away . And so I decided to use a phrase instead of a single word this month. 🙂
Anyway, getting to the point….I’m a big fan of talking about people behind their backs. I know that’s often associated with saying nasty things about our ‘friends’ to our friends. But why not turn it around? Why not spread little tales of sunshine instead of darkness?
Last month I talked about encouragement, specifically about complimenting others and building them up. May’s topic is a very close relative to April’s. However, this month I tried to focus on indirectly building others up.
Too often I’m tempted to share a juicy tidbit of gossip. Sometimes I do it under the pretense of sharing a prayer need or having a genuine concern about a person. But whatever our excuse is, slandering remains a sin.
So we resolve not to gossip. We don’t speak ill of our neighbors to our family, we don’t mention our coworkers’ mistakes to our friends, we don’t speculate on our friends’ problems. We stop ranting about authority figures in our lives and quit outlining our peers’ weaknesses.
Is that enough?
Maybe it is. I don’t know.
But why stop there? The way I see if you stop doing something negative, you need to replace it with the opposite positive immediately. That empty spot must be filled with something. Why not replace a habit of gossiping with a habit of being an ambassador of love? Listen to these exchanges:
“Ellie, Gina, and Kate are soooo proud of their song they performed in church.” vs “Those girls sure did an amazing job with their song yesterday.”
“I think Jayne never gives her house a good cleaning.” vs “Jayne’s cherry pie was so delicious! She’s a talented cook.”
“My pastor always manages to get church out late.” vs “Pastor Luke’s message on Sunday really inspired me.”
“Tim is such a slow speaker. It takes him forever to bring a point across.” vs “Tim is such a deep thinker. His comments during Bible study are very insightful”
“I have a hunch Jake and Dara’s perfect little family isn’t as perfect as they try to act in public.” vs “Jake and Dara raised their kids well… so well-behaved and polite.”
By the way, all the statements in green are things I’ve heard ambassadors of love say recently (names changed). It blesses me so much to hear my friends and family speak uplifting words about people they’ve interacted with.
Side note: Once someone starts using a lot of never-always words, little red flags spring up all over in my mind 🙂
So I just wanna challenge all of us. Next time we’re tempted to share a little ‘prayer request’ (*major air quotes*), let’s THINK first:
Very often, we’ll be stopped at the first or second query. Even if it is true, it’s probably not helpful to spread a rumor. And inspiring…necessary… and kind??? I’ve found that there’s no loophole for gossip in THINK.
But don’t just clamp your mouth shut. Be an ambassador of love. Say something nice about the person you just wanted to gossip about. It might take a moment, but that’s okay. It might seem impossible to only speak well of others, but it will get easier. Like any habit, it gets easier the longer you practice it. I promise. Ask God to show you positive qualities in the person you want to gossip about. Pray for a healthy mind that wants to build others up instead of tearing down.
Next month… TBD