Ephesians 4:25 (KJV)
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Gossip can be so sneaky.
We so often want to trust and believe what our friends (or extremely convincing folks in the media…another story, another time) tell us, that we don’t even think to question them.
There’s been several times a friend has warned me, “just so you know…” or “not sure if you’ve heard, but…” about someone whom I’ve not yet encountered.
They meant well, of course. They wanted me to know the vibe they caught from another individual, thinking I should be on my guard. Because, you know, friends care.
However, before I had a chance to draw my own conclusion about someone, those negative thoughts were in the back of my mind, tainting my impression of their character. And that bothered me.
But you know what? Almost all of those times, those well-intended warnings were false alarms.
Turns out I was able to make a couple of great acquaintances, once I allowed myself to have an open mind. I told myself that until proven otherwise, it wasn’t right for me to have a negative opinion about them based solely on what I or others had heard.
I’m not saying those friends of mine were wrong in what they said, or in how they felt.
Come on, we aren’t fated to be besties with everyone. Some people are really going to grate on us. Adulthood 101 stuff. Not everyone is going to like the same cup of tea as we do (that’s not the analogy, I know, but we’re rolling with it anyway).
Chances are, though, it probably has less to do with that individual’s personality and more to do with our friends’ perspective.
For all you know, so-and-so was just having a bad day when they met your friend. Or it’s possible your acquaintance is just a super critical person, or even jealous of said so-and-so. Just because they didn’t get along doesn’t mean you wouldn’t.
All I’m saying is, give people the benefit of the doubt. It’s what we want others to do for us, right?
Think about it.
Pre-judgments can ruin an opportunity of friendship, witnessing, or networking for you, while simultaneously killing that person’s influence or reputation. Others, perhaps subconsciously, are going to keep their distance from that individual you ho-hummed about. You could be the indirect cause of emotional pain to another’s life with a few degrading words or predisposed stiff-arm.
So what about you? Have you been holding a bias against someone, with no real foundation? Or maybe you have good reason. But is it cool that you’ve been sharing your opinions about that person with everyone else, potentially harming their character?
Take caution who you give your ear to. But just as importantly, let’s apply a filter to our tongues and think about the consequences of our utterances before we speak.
When someone comes to you with information or insight about someone else, consider the source. Like the saying goes, what Bobby says about Billy says more about Bobby than about Billy (interchange names as you please).
Do your own research. Don’t adopt someone else’s opinions as your beliefs until you’ve tested them out yourself.
“You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor…”