You can be following God as closely as you can, be so full of God’s Holy Spirit working in and through you, seeing people come to know the Lord more and more, accepting who he is and loving him back. You can be so filled with joy and elation over the work God has allowed you to be a part that you are shocked when it happens…the whispering campaign.
It happened to Paul. It happened to Jesus Christ, Himself. There is an evil one among us who uses the only tool of destruction in his weak arsenal that causes God’s church to split right down the middle, if we allow it. That tool is called gossip. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. It’s unkind, unloving, and full of selfishness. Gossip is sin. It is a hunger for control and includes power plays to be on top…wanting, not to be like Jesus, but to be God! When insatiable desires for power and control, fueled by the evil one’s whispers to fearful hearts, is interrupted by Truth, then those who tell the Truth are attacked from behind in what is called here, in the passage today, “the whispering campaign”.
It’s sad and heartbreaking. It tears away at the fabric of the family of God. Paul warns the church in his later letters to the churches about gossip and unwholesome talk. But for now, he keeps moving forward, enthusiastically. There is a lesson of steadfastness here that we cannot miss.
Acts 14, The Message
14 1-3 When they got to Iconium they went, as they always did, to the meeting place of the Jews and gave their message. The Message convinced both Jews and non-Jews—and not just a few, either. But the unbelieving Jews worked up a whispering campaign against Paul and Barnabas, sowing mistrust and suspicion in the minds of the people in the street. The two apostles were there a long time, speaking freely, openly, and confidently as they presented the clear evidence of God’s gifts, God corroborating their work with miracles and wonders.
4-7 But then there was a split in public opinion, some siding with the Jews, some with the apostles. One day, learning that both the Jews and non-Jews had been organized by their leaders to beat them up, they escaped as best they could to the next towns—Lyconia, Lystra, Derbe, and that neighborhood—but then were right back at it again, getting out the Message.
What do we learn?
–The greater the work and more successful God’s work becomes, the battle becomes more heated. Satan still thinks he can win us from God.
–Evil has only one tool to use–playing on our selfishness.
–Gossip can destroy and at it’s worst splits God’s church, rendering weak and in shambles.
–God can restore.
–Don’t give in to gossip. Know the Truth. Keep preaching the Truth. Keep moving forward. Don’t give up. God never gave us on us and never will.
Reflection: Help me to THINK before I speak. I must ask, every time, Is what I’m about to say the Truth, Helpful, Inspiring to others seeking Jesus, Necessary and above all Kind?
Dear Heavenly Father, We have still fight the battle against the sin of gossip. Save us from ourselves. Help us to put aside our interests for the support and interest of others…like Jesus did. Forgive us when we even listen in for a moment which causes our minds to wonder. Help us to see Truth and live Truth. Help us to RUN from the temptations of gossip. In Jesus Name, Amen