Posted by: the warrioress | October 21, 2012

The Intent of a Christian’s Heart

Gossip (Vanessa Amorosi song)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. — Hebrews 4:12

When you engaged in that judgment of your neighbor the other day, and made public your thoughts about the negatives of another human being, what was the intent of your heart as a Christian believer in Jesus Christ?

Did you do this with the intent to hurt or cause harm? Is the attempt at harm covert within yourself and hard for you to recognize? Is it based upon anger within you, concern, or some other viable reason that you’re using to justify the intent?

Character assassination is an attempt to tarnish a person’s reputation. It may involve exaggeration, misleading half-truths, or manipulation of facts to present an untrue picture of the targeted person. It is a form of defamation and can be a form of ad hominem argument.

For living individuals targeted by character assassination attempts, this may result in being rejected by his community, family, or members of his or her living or work environment. Such acts are often difficult to reverse or rectify, and the process is likened to a literal assassination of a human life. The damage sustained can last a lifetime or, for historical figures, for many centuries after their death.

In practice, character assassination may involve doublespeak, spreading of rumors, innuendo or deliberate misinformation on topics relating to the subject’s morals, integrity, and reputation. It may involve spinning information that is technically true, but that is presented in a misleading manner or is presented without the necessary context. For example, it might be said that a person refused to pay any income tax during a specific year, without saying that no tax was actually owed due to the person having no income that year, or that a person was sacked from a firm, even though he may have been made redundant through no fault of his own, rather than being terminated for cause.

In politics, perhaps the most common form of character assassination is the spread of allegations that a candidate is a liar. Other common themes may include allegations that the candidate is a bad or unpopular member of his family, has a bad relationship with his spouse or children or is not respected by his colleagues. Another theme claims that the person routinely engages in disturbing, socially unacceptable behavior, such as sexual deviancy. The person may also be portrayed as holding beliefs widely considered despicable within society, such as supporting racism or other forms of bigotry.

Charging an opponent with character assassination may have political benefits. In the hearings for Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States, supporters claimed that both Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill were victims of character assassination.  Source

What does the bible tell us about gossip, slander, innuendo, and character assassination?

Question: “What does the Bible say about gossip?”

Answer: The Hebrew word translated “gossip” in the Old Testament is defined as “one who reveals secrets, one who goes about as a talebearer or scandal-monger.” A gossiper is a person who has privileged information about people and proceeds to reveal that information to those who have no business knowing it. Gossip is distinguished from sharing information in two ways:

1. Intent. Gossipers often have the goal of building themselves up by making others look bad and exalting themselves as some kind of repositories of knowledge.

2. The type of information shared. Gossipers speak of the faults and failings of others, or reveal potentially embarrassing or shameful details regarding the lives of others without their knowledge or approval. Even if they mean no harm, it is still gossip.

In the book of Romans, Paul reveals the sinful nature and lawlessness of mankind, stating how God poured out His wrath on those who rejected His laws. Because they had turned away from God’s instruction and guidance, He gave them over to their sinful natures. The list of sins includes gossips and slanderers (Romans 1:29b-32). We see from this passage how serious the sin of gossip is and that it characterizes those who are under God’s wrath.

Another group who were (and still are today) known for indulging in gossip is widows. Paul cautions widows against entertaining the habit of gossip and of being idle. These women are described as “gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to” (1 Timothy 5:12-13). Because women tend to spend a lot of time in each other’s homes and work closely with other women, they hear and observe situations which can become distorted, especially when repeated over and over. Paul states that widows get into the habit of going from home to home, looking for something to occupy their idleness. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, and God cautions against allowing idleness to enter our lives. “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man [or woman] who talks too much” (Proverbs 20:19).

Women are certainly not the only ones who have been found guilty of gossip. Anyone can engage in gossip simply by repeating something heard in confidence. The book of Proverbs has a long list of verses that cover the dangers of gossip and the potential hurt that results from it. “A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:12-13).

The Bible tells us that “a perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28). Many a friendship has been ruined over a misunderstanding that started with gossip. Those who engage in this behavior do nothing but stir up trouble and cause anger, bitterness, and pain among friends. Sadly, some people thrive on this and look for opportunities to destroy others. And when such people are confronted, they deny the allegations and answer with excuses and rationalizations. Rather than admit wrongdoing, they blame someone else or attempt to minimize the seriousness of the sin. “A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul. The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts” (Proverbs 18:7-8).

Those who guard their tongues keep themselves from calamity (Proverbs 21:23). So we must guard our tongues and refrain from the sinful act of gossip. If we surrender our natural desires to the Lord, He will help us to remain righteous. May we all follow the Bible’s teaching on gossip by keeping our mouths shut unless it is necessary and appropriate to speak.
Source

When we attempt to assassinate someone’s character through gossip, or spreading scandalous negativity about them, we tell others who we are.  We show them our CHARACTER. As Christians, God wants our character to be without blemish, and holy as His is. He expects a lot out of us as Christians. Does our behavior reflect that of Jesus Christ?

It is the Lord’s purpose to develop character within us. “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart” (Proverbs 17:3). Godly character is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification. Character in the believer is a consistent manifestation of Jesus in his life. It is the purity of heart that God gives becoming purity in action. God sometimes uses trials to strengthen character: “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). The Lord is pleased when His children grow in character. “You test the heart and are pleased with integrity” (1 Chronicles 29:17; see also Psalm 15:1-2).

We can develop character by controlling our thoughts (Philippians 4:8), practicing Christian virtues (2 Peter 1:5-6), guarding our hearts (Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 15:18-20), and keeping good company (1 Corinthians 15:33). Men and women of character will set a good example for others to follow, and their godly reputation will be evident to all (Titus 2:7-8).  Source

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