I came across 1 Timothy 5:13 this week in my Bible meanderings, and it began a process of thought for me. Women are directed to be “keepers at home”…we touched on that not long ago. In our modern society, we are of necessity pretty mobile people. Food is not obtained at the corner market (generally speaking); many of us go to a store to buy clothes and bread and the necessities of life. Most church activities require time out of the home, and some women because of their financial situations (in my opinion, this is sometimes warranted and the best way to serve one’s husband…but sometimes there needs to be a honing of the lifestyle and a re-prioritizing instead), are needing to work outside as well as inside their homes. Simply put, we don’t stay put much. We have much more opportunity for interaction. We are a lot more socially connected with cell phones, blackberries, texting, emails, computers… That doesn’t mean we are any more adept socially than we were in past generations, it just means we connect more. This is the breeding ground for busybodies.
More is not necessarily better. KWIM? It seems some folks have to fill the air space with something 24/7. They call or text while they drive, while they shop, while they eat, while they sleep (okay, maybe it hasn’t come to that quite yet). They “tweet” about where they are going, what they are buying, what they are eating. It’s insane. And, in the midst of all this chatter there is no doubt intermingled a heaping helping of idle words. As sinful creatures, we are prone to criticize, analyze and…publicize.
I watched a program on PBS some time ago which scientifically analyzed the emotional make up of human beings. The upshot of the whole thing was that they determined our primary need as humans, emotionally speaking, is to connect with others. I don’t find this surprising, do you? We have the scriptures instructing us that we are a body in Christ…each of the members needs one another. John Donne had it right: “No man is an island entire unto itself.”
So why should we, in essence, destroy our own selves? James spends much time talking about the destructive power of the tongue. How true it is, as an author I read recently has stated, “Your tongue, when unregulated, is a natural disaster.”
How often I have seen this portrayed in Jane Austen’s works. People of the upper crust…the aristocracy, who have nothing better to do than to preoccupy themselves with other people’s affairs. Idle curiosity manifesting itself in idle words. Problem is, because of the ease of life in this 21st century, even average middle-classers have become idle, too.
This is one of the reasons I found the recent airing of “Cranford” on PBS to be so refreshing. You were permitted to laugh at the superficialities of such people (and laugh at what you see of yourself in them) and then soberly consider the fallout of this gossip as you see casualty after casualty straggle across the screen. If God would give us an immediate flow chart, showing the projected effect of our careless, unloving speech–would we be moved to change? I hope so.
Then there’s the truckload of stuff that masquerades as “prayer concerns.” I have received phone calls regarding prayer requests where I just had to say “Thank you for letting me know. I will pray. I’m sorry, but I need to go now.” This not only protected me from being drawn into an unedifying conversation (and perhaps perpetuating it…ugh!), but also protected the caller from divulging confidential information and falling into the pit herself.
So, you say no to yourself. Swallow that “delicious morsel” instead of spewing it. And when you are on the receiving end, depending upon the circumstance, you can either simply walk away (not storming, but just withdrawing) from a toxic conversation; or if it is a more intimate exchange I have even challenged the person disseminating the morsels with something like, “If you are really concerned about this, I’ll go together with you to talk with so and so.” This is the biblical thing to do.
Not easy. Rarely fun. But it is the loving thing to do for all concerned. “O be careful little lips what you say” is for us grown-ups too.