Go Ahead and Let Them Talk About You


When I cannot hear the sparrow sing
And I cannot feel the melody
There’s a secret place that’s full of grace
There’s a blessing in the storm
Help me sing it
There’s a blessing in the storm

When the sickness won’t leave my body
And the pain just won’t leave my soul
I get on my knees and say, “Jesus please”
There’s a blessing in the storm
Help me sing it
There’s a blessing in the storm

When I cannot seem to love again
And the raindrops won’t ever end
If you just hold on
Those clouds will soon be gone

There’s a blessing in the storm
Help me sing it
There’s a blessing in the storm

Sweet, sweet, the storm, sweet

When I cannot seem to love again
And the raindrops won’t ever end
If you just hold on
Those clouds will soon be gone

There’s a blessing in the storm
Help me sing it
There’s a blessing in the storm

Kirk Franklin – Blessing in the Storm.

Nelly was worried. The small private clinic confirmed that she pregnant. She was not only single, she was a steward in the church. Nelly had never had it easy with church brethren and their “pentecostal gossips” and judgmental attitudes. They (church folks) seemed to be worse than unbelievers in the world when it came to character assassination. Nelly was devastated. Now, here was evidence of all the malicious gossip that had been centred on her person. For Nelly, the unwanted pregnancy marked the beginning of the demise of her active participation in church for she didn’t think she could bear the shame and sneer of attending church with a protruding tummy when there were no wedding bands on her finger.

Are you feeling like Nelly in your church, workplace or community? Do feel like people spend more time destroying your character/reputation while deliberately ignoring your good works? Do you sometimes feel like quitting church and spacing everyone? Do you feel like a few people have taken it upon themselves to destroy every good thing you represent? Do you wish people could endeavour to understand you better and hear your own side of the nasty tales being spread against you? Then I wrote this piece for you. Here’s how to handle your situation. Whenever malicious gossip seeking to destroy your reputation rears its ugly head like a shark leaping out of murky waters of life, let these 3W guide you in your soul search:

 

# 1 Who Are They?

Who are those accusing you? In the Gospel of John 8: 3 -11, Jesus asked the woman charged with adultery where her accusers were, after each of them had dropped their stones and walked away and she was left alone with Jesus. Scriptures do not provide the detailed profiles of these accusers (apart from the fact that they were Jewish leaders and Pharisees). However, the Scriptures record that their consciences were pricked by Jesus’ query that, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Those folks who were bent on killing this woman in Jesus’ days are the same folks manifesting same livid traits in this latter generation. This time, their stones are the mean words they hurl at the character and reputation of those they are gossiping about or accusing. Over time, psychology has proven certain things about compulsive gossipers. Firstly, people who gossip about others will certainly gossip about their hearers. In other words, when people gossip to you about others, be sure that they will gossip to others about you. Secondly, the majority of the people who are experts at smearing the characters of others, are not much better than the subjects of their accusation. Let me share with you, four (4) real life scenarios (all occurring within churches) that vividly illustrate the dual points. It will not necessary for me to mention names, places or the churches where these events occurred. The goal of relaying these unfortunate transpiration is not to relive the hurt of the past for those involved, but for us to learn that gossiping is a vice.

A church member accused his general overseer’s son of living in sin with another member of the church. A disciplinary committee made up of elders was set up by the church to investigate this serious allegation. All the parties involved were invited to face the committee. Standing before the committee, the accuser could not prove the allegations he made against the general overseer’s son. Threatened with excommunication from the church, the accuser admitted that he acted on information he received from a well-known lady evangelist of the church. In his defence, the accused general overseer’s son narrated to the disciplinary committee of how the said evangelist had approached him the previous year and persuaded him to marry her daughter; a request he had quietly declined. However, the accused also admitted that he was in love with the girl that he was being accused of fornication with. He confessed that he and the girl in issue had cuddled but he maintained that they had not had sex.

Two young men in a church were best friends, often spending time with each other. However, one friend discovered that the other was behind all the negative stories that were being propelled about him. Whenever the two friends discussed church issues in confidence, the other friend would take the information immediately to the subjects that were being discussed. It wasn’t long before the ignorant friend started having problems with the pastorate of the church because whenever the two friends discussed the church administration, the points of discussion immediately got to the pastor (whether true of false). Of course, the friendship between the two young men became strained. Subsequently, as if by the divine will of God, it also became an unspoken secret in the church that this same gossiping brother who had destroyed his friend’s reputation was living with a girlfriend, whom he had claimed all the while, was his biological sister.  

A church sister went about telling anyone who cared to listen to her that a certain brother in the same church was carnal, lustful and fake. Everyone believed her because she was a gifted member of the music ministry in the church. However, the truth was that this accusing sister had visited the “lustful brother” regularly and she had even had a brief sexual affair with him. It was when the so-called lustful brother had refused to continue with the sinful affair on account of feeling very guilty about their illicit relationship that she began to accuse him to everybody, out of her fear that he would first expose her. Yet the brother maintained that he never had any intention of telling anyone that the sister with the melodious voice had successfully seduced him. He was even ashamed of that fact. On the other hand, the sister was propelled by that Nigerian belief that it is the first person who lodges a complaint to the police that usually wins the case. To make matters worse, the accusing sister was later known to have been dating a married man in the same church. 

A sister, who was secretly co-habiting with a brother in the same church, had another brother propose marriage to her. The brother who proposed marriage to her was richer than her live-in-lover. In a bid to present a clean bill of holiness to the brother who wanted marriage, she immediately moved out of her live-in lover’s house and distanced herself from him, in spite of the latter’s desperate pleas for her to rethink her decision and marry him. As if that was not enough, this sister went about telling brethren in their church that her former live-in lover was pestering her life by asking her out, which overtures were making her very uncomfortable in the church. She was trying to impress her new man (fiancé) with sordid stories of her erstwhile lover. It was a proactively defensive stance meant to counter and deny any futuristic accusation that she had ever lived with her former lover.

The four tales summarized above is just a tip of the iceberg. If I were to list out details of the accusations and counter-accusations that emanate from our various churches, I wouldn’t finish this essay in 100 pages. But what I would like to ask is – please who is fooling who? Brethren in the church may be fooled and believe every accusation without any verification but God knows every minute detail and gist behind them. Do you think that God in heaven is fooled or mocked?

If you’re right now the subject of gossip, know one thing for sure – your accusers are not morally your betters. God does not need to vindicate you by exposing their sins.

If you specialize in destroying the reputation of others, please desist from this sin or you will be forcing God to expose the skeletons in your cupboard.

 

# Where Are You?

When accusations begin to fly like fiery darts aimed at you, it is needful for you to pause and review where you are in your journey of life. This is because when accusations come, the truth of the matter is that it’s either you’re doing those nasty things you’re rightly accused of or some people are simply jealous or threatened by the advancement you’ve made in your career/life and they are on a mission to pull you down. Recall Jesus and the Pharisees/Sadducees. Everything those religious leaders did to the Christ was borne out of envy. I don’t even think their actions were as a result of an honest desire to preserve God in Israel. They hated the fact that Jesus was so influential and the people thronged towards him. He (Jesus) made them (scribes) look so irrelevant to the very masses they desperately sought respect from. It is so unbelievable how many accusations are propelled by the gust of envy. Before I became an active participant in church (by being a steward), I use to think that the church was a place immune from negative emotions like jealousy and envy but with time, I realized that brethren are indeed human too. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “envy is ignorance.” Very few people will ever agree that envy or jealousy is a virtue, yet the world and very often the church struggles with this vice. The harmful effects of envy and jealousy are that:

  • It fosters discontent and distress.
  • It binds our freedom.
  • It leads to resentment and bitterness, leading to false accusations.
  • It causes us to do things we wouldn’t normally do (like bearing negative tales).
  • It can spiral into depression.

A young minister in my church was really gifted. He was still in training at the Bible College but it was obvious that he had a calling from God because anytime he stepped onto the pulpit to pray or minister, the church was immensely blessed. There was, this time, he went to pray over the sick in a nearby hospital. After this young minister’s prayers, a wealthy businessman who had been hospitalized for over eight months, received Jesus and divine healing instantly. As soon as this businessman left the hospital, he decided to reward the young minister with a car gift. Beyond that, he promised to maintain the car for the young minister, i.e. fueling and repairs. When the young minister brought this car and presented it before the church, not too many people were happy for him. In fact, in his words, “that’s when my problems began.” The envy emanated more from the clergy than the laity. Series of accusations were subsequently made against him. Some were adulterated incidents and others were outright lies. It even got to the point that he was accused of using occultism to perform miracles.    

If you’re right now in a manmade storm of gossip and accusations, re-evaluate yourself. Consciously and objectively determine if you’re guilty or innocent. If you’re innocent of the stories being peddled about you, then ignore your accusers and press towards your goals/vision. Act like your accusers do not exist. 

# Who Are You?

It was the philosopher, Socrates who is credited with the aphorism, “Man Know Thyself.” It means that people should look into themselves and try to understand themselves. Who are we? What is our desire? What are our ambitions, weaknesses, fears, strengths and position? Socrates was famous for arguing that in order to be wise, one must know oneself. When another ancient philosopher, Thales of Miletus was asked what the most difficult thing to know was, he replied that it was knowledge of self. Similarly, Jean-Jacques Rousseau acknowledged that it was not nearly as easy as he had assumed to know himself. Near the end of his life, he conceded that it was “arrogant and rash” to profess virtues that you cannot live up to.

However, perfect and accurate knowledge of self begins with the knowledge and fear of the true God and His precepts (Proverbs 9:10). A self-analysis without a divine yardstick may eventually be misleading and deceitful. The heart of man is desperately wicked and deceitful. Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:19) The same heart that originates false accusations and malicious gossip is the same typology of heart that will justify sin and wrongdoing even when it becomes public knowledge.

After evaluating yourself as proposed in the previous subheading, if you find that there is any iota of truth in the gossip and accusations, the first thing you should do is to remain silent. Do not hastily attempt to respond to the gossips or accusations. Do not try to clarify anything just yet because the motive for the gossip in the first place was to cause damage to your character and reputation. The same tale-bearers will not be willing or gracious to tell your own side of the story which paints you in a good light. There is nothing you say at this point that may not be twisted by your hearers when they are relaying it to third parties. Even when people swarm around you to obtain classified information, be careful and avoid them. You know yourself better than anyone; apart from your creator. Go ahead and make peace with your God. The fact that you’re alive, healthy and kicking is a clear indication that God has not finished with you yet. Like the woman charged with adultery, He is not your accuser. So go ahead and make peace with Him. The fact that our omniscience Lord told the woman to go and sin no more is indicative of the fact that she actually committed the adultery. Yet, he told her to go and sin no more. If there’s anyone offended by the incident that originated the gossip, please try to make peace and apologise. Winning your brother or sister is not a sign of weakness but that of divine strength.

Be assured that after the storm, comes sunshine. Godspeed.    

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