ON CHRIS­TIAN­ITY

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - bil­ly­gra­ham.org BILLY GRA­HAM Write to Billy Gra­ham in care of Billy Gra­ham Evan­ge­lis­tic As­so­ci­a­tion, 1 Billy Gra­ham Park­way, Char­lotte, N.C. 28201 or visit the web­site at

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.

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