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Intercessory Prayer, Requests and Gossip

Greg Strand – October 16, 2014 2 Comments

Prayer is vital for living life together in the context of community in a local church. It is a key way in which we bear one another’s burdens . As we engage in intercessory prayer on behalf of others, we are reflecting the present ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ who now, at the right hand of the Father, “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).

Since this is true, how do we ensure that we are truly engaging in this loving ministry of intercessory prayer and not just using it as a means to remain in the know, or to communicate issues that ought not to be shared, or to gossip?

Matt Mitchell, who serves as pastor at the Lanse EFC, Lanse, PA, wrote his Doctor of Ministry project on a biblical understanding of and response to gossip. Mitchell has multiplied the efforts of this excellent work by publishing the book, Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue, teaching and writing in various places regarding the content of the book. His desire is to be faithful to the Lord and the teaching of Scripture so that he can serve the body of Christ faithfully.

Mitchell recently had a guest post on The Exchange, Ed Stetzer’s blog, addressing the important and practical issue of Gossip and Prayer Requests. I encourage you to read this post. Though brief, it has much food for thought and teeth for pastoral practice.

“Resisting Gossip”

Greg Strand – September 20, 2013 2 Comments
by Matt Mitchell

by Matt Mitchell

“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.” Proverbs 26:22

According to many Christians, gossip is generally considered one of the respectable or acceptable sins, and it should not be so. It is sin, which means it is not respectable and it is not acceptable.

Matt Mitchell, pastor of the Lanse Evangelical Free Church, Lanse, PA, has written an important and helpful book on gossip, understanding what it is, recognizing its enticing yet destructive nature, and how, by God’s grace, to overcome it: Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue (CLC Publications).

Mitchell raise a number of questions: What is gossip? What makes gossip wrong? Why do we do it? More importantly, how do we stop it? He then explains why he wrote this important book.

I wrote Resisting Gossip to help ordinary Christians solve an everyday problem for which there has been very few helpful resources. We encounter gossip all the time, but most of us have never been taught how to recognize it for what it is, resist the temptation to pass it along, and respond in faith and love when we are the target. I’m hoping that my book will aid Christ-followers to combat this insidious problem with the promises of the gospel!

The book has four parts: Part 1: Recognizing Gossip; Part 2: Resisting Gossip; Part 3: Responding to Gossip; Part 4: Regretting Gossip. It also includes a final Bonus Chapter for Church Leaders, which addresses ways to cultivate a gossip-resistant church, with a provocative yet profound subtitle, “loose lips sink fellowships, but the gospel wins the war of the wagging tongue.”

Mitchell defines gossip as follows (p.23): “Sinful gossip is bearing bad news behind someone’s back out of a bad heart.”

A “gallery of gossips” are identified (pp. 46-59): 1) the spy; 2) the grumbler; 3) the backstabber; 4) the chameleon; and 5) the busybody.

Mitchell presents five constructive alternatives to gossip (pp. 80-89):

  1. Say Nothing At All
  2. Commend the Commendable
  3. Talk to People, Not about Them
  4. Offer Words of Mercy
  5. Talk to and about the Lord

There is much more, but this gives you a sense of the excellent issues addressed and constructive, gospel-centered way of addressing the sin of gossip. Here are a few recommendations.

The Biblical Counseling Coalition posted a review that consists of the following:

Mitchell has provided a practical guide that helps everyone recognize, resist, respond, and regret this pervasive and insidious sin. Because of its accessibility, strong biblical and theological foundation, and warm-hearted pastoral tone, biblical counselors will find this book an invaluable resource, not only for their parishioners, but for themselves as well.Resisting Gossip’s gospel-centered, elegant simplicity will benefit the church for years to come.

Tim Challies convictingly concludes:

I do not consider myself particularly prone to gossip. At least, I didn’t. But this book showed me that I may be more susceptible than I like to think. I tend to be comfortably legalistic by keeping my definitions so narrow that they exclude me. But by widening the definition of gossip—and doing so biblically, I believe—Mitchell showed me that I may be more of a gossip than I care to admit. And isn’t it interesting that I kept trying to rewrite that sentence to keep from labeling myself a gossip. I will own being drawn to it or prone to it, but I resist owning it.

I enjoyed Resisting Gossip in the most lasting sense, because there were several areas in which it challenged and criticized me and then offered me hope. I was sorry to have to come face-to-face with my proneness to gossip, but in the end, grateful for the rebuke. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend…”

Andy Naselli summarizes the book, “It’s convicting, edifying, accessible, and practical.”

Read more about the book. Watch a three minute video in which Mitchell gives a brief statement about gossip and his book.

Karen, my dear wife, asked me, “Do you have this book? It looks good.” My response. I do, and it is!

Gossip and Flattery

Greg Strand – February 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Gossip involves saying behind a person’s back what you would never say to his or her face. Flattery means saying to a person’s face what you would never say behind his or her back.

R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly Man, rev. ed. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001). From chapter 11, “Discipline of Tongue,” 139.