DEAR REV. GRAHAM: I don’t go to church anymore, because the people in the last one I went to weren’t very friendly, and all they did was criticize and gossip about everyone, from the pastor on down (probably including me). That’s not the way Christians are supposed to act, is it?
— S.K. DEAR S.K.: No, it’s definitely not how Christians are supposed to act. When we commit ourselves to Jesus and become His followers, our lives should be marked by love and compassion, not criticism and gossiping. The Bible says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6).
Why is gossiping wrong? One reason is because it’s often based on lies — and lying is wrong. Even if what someone says about another person isn’t completely false, it’s still only part of the truth. Gossiping and criticism also tear people down and hurt their reputation, causing conflict and suspicion. The Bible rightly says, “A lying tongue hates those it hurts” (Proverbs 26:28).
But gossiping and criticizing people behind their backs are also wrong because they come from ulterior motives. Have you ever asked yourself why we like to gossip? The reason isn’t simply because we like to tear others down; it’s because we like to build ourselves up. When we gossip, we’re claiming to be “in the know,” and when we criticize someone, we’re claiming to be better than they are. In reality, however, we’re only tearing ourselves down.
Don’t let your bad experience with only a handful of people keep you from Christ, or from the blessings He has for you. Make sure of your personal commitment to Jesus, and then ask Him to guide you to a church where you can grow in your faith and be surrounded by people who love Him — and will also love you.