“Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19).
Jesus tells us to love our neighbors the same way we love ourselves. This includes the way we talk about them.
When I was a small girl, the mothers in my neighborhood would gather in the afternoon and talk before it was time to start cooking the evening
meal. I used to sit close by so I could listen. I had to sit very quietly until everyone forgot that I was there. It was so much fun to hear all the gossip!
These ladies would talk about how much money the neighbors made, who was mad at which person, which husband was drinking too much. They told about arguments between husbands and wives that had been overheard, or all the boyfriends certain teenage girls had.
Of course, my mother never knew that I heard all this! But I did, and even as a child my opinions changed for the worse about the people they spoke of.
It is especially wrong to repeat gossip if you are uncertain it is true. The ninth commandment says it this way: You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
I think that loving our neighbors as ourselves means only repeating things that we would want repeated if people were talking about us. It means putting your neighbors’ actions in a positive light. It means giving them the benefit of the doubt.
If we want people to be complimentary when they talk about us, we must be careful to be truthful and positive when we talk about them—or say nothing at all.
Kimberly Snider is a missionary to the Philippines.
From “Moments for Moms,” a free email subscription.
Copyright (c) 2004 Women’s Ministries of the Assemblies of God.