Am I in Business with God or Satan?

Today I run the risk of sounding like I might be a little crazy, but a couple of weeks ago, after a sobering conversation with a friend of mine, I was hit with an epiphany that has sat perched on the edge of my mind ever since. At the time I thought I should write about it, but as I pondered how I'd address the topic, and realized how hard it would be to explain, and how much I'd have to reveal about some of my beliefs, I put it off. But the epiphany still sits there, swinging its legs back and forth and refusing to be ignored. So at the peril of sounding like I'm crazy or nonsensical, I'm going to do my best to share the thoughts I've had.

To preface this, I need to explain a few of my core beliefs. I believe in God and I believe He knows each of us. I also believe He loves each of us. Evidence of that can be found in the instructions He's given us--love your neighbor, don't bear false witness, bridle our tongues, blessed are the peacemakers... I could go on and on sharing the instructions I believe He's given to encourage us to be kind, loving, peaceable, respectful.

I also believe in an adversary. I believe in Satan. I believe he's a miserable creature who tempts us and desires our destruction. I believe he wants us to be miserable like he is. I believe that he cheers at our failures and wants us to hate and hurt each other.

All my life, I've been taught that God knows our hearts and minds. He's omniscient, all knowing. But Satan isn't. He doesn't know our thoughts unless we vocalize them. He didn't know Job's heart and he doesn't know mine. He wouldn't know about my insecurities or the places I'm vulnerable unless I vocalize them. He wouldn't know of my heartaches, pain, or inappropriate thoughts, unless I vocalize them. If I'm strong and turn to God, He'll give me power over Satan and I'll be able to avoid his temptations and dark and depressing thoughts. God said Satan would have power to bruise my heel, but I'd have power to crush his head.

I hate gossip. I'm not going to say I haven't been involved in gossipy situations before because I have. I can think of specific instances where I've been annoyed, frustrated, or hurt and my reaction has been to have a full-fledged gossip-fest. Every time I do, I feel like garbage. I'm ashamed of myself and I feel dirty and disappointed.

I was talking to a friend the other day and she told me about a hurtful situation that had broken her heart and had been the pivotal event that caused her to relocate her family.She'd been the target of unkind gossip--some true, some misunderstood and some completely false. My heart ached for the suffering that had been inflicted on her and her family and I hoped her new neighbors would treat her and her family with more kindness. 

I remember a few years ago being at the heart of a similar situation. A disagreement with a neighbor I'd considered a friend, escalated into an ugliness that shocked me and I soon discovered that while I'd considered it a disagreement between the two of us and thought it could and should be remedied with an apology on both sides, turned into a feeding frenzy. Suddenly people I hardly knew were looking at me strangely or asking me questions that proved that the version they'd heard was full of exaggerations and hatefulness. I was shocked and hurt and soon discovered that apologies on my part would never heal the wound because once she'd entrenched herself in her hateful spreading of the story to others, there was no turning back for her.

As I thought over the experiences my friend had with gossip and my own experience, I had a realization. I believe Heavenly Father has instructed us not to bear false witness, (I interpret that as spreading hatefulness, rumors and GOSSIP) because it not only destroys the love he wants us to have for each other, it also arms Satan with ammunition to use on our neighbors. If I talk about So-and-So and spread around what I see as their shortcomings, I'm giving Satan the tools to know how to work on So-and-So. I might say to my friend, "She's so lazy. Have you seen her house? She must spend all day sitting around wasting time," or "She's such a slut. Have you seen the way she dresses and carries herself?" or "He has no business talking to her like that when he's married. Is he looking to have an affair?" but I'm not just being a horrible friend and neighbor. I'm aiding and abetting Satan as he tries to destroy people.

I might get my gossipy kicks by sharing a juicy tidbit with a friend and I'm done. But Satan won't stop there. He'll take my hurtful little dagger and he'll patiently and cruelly, dig and twist and carve with that little dagger in an effort to destroy someone.

I don't want to help Satan in his cunning plan. I'm pretty sure none of us do.

So how do we avoid being his unwitting partner? We love each other. We give people the benefit of the doubt. We walk away when others are gossiping or better yet, if we have the courage, we speak up and put an end to it. We follow Thumper's mother's advice and if we can't say somethin' nice, we don't say nothin' at all. We shut up when we're tempted to sully someone's name or reputation and we speak up when someone needs a kind word.

We become more like our Savior. I'd rather be partners with Him.


Leslie said...

great thoughts. i must do better.

dare to do right. dare to be true.

missy said...

Great post! I was told years ago that Satan doesn't know our thoughts, but he's the master of body language. I'm still hashing around your concept of Satan taking what we say about others as another way to target them. I've never thought about it that way before. My thoughts are that if it is true and they've said or done something exposing their insecurities and weaknesses, then Satan already knows. I think gossip is not only hurtful to those we gossip about, but it is one way that Satan can keep us focused on the negative or undesirable traits of others. If we are prone to gossip, then we will see (true or not) those things that will get us talking. There's always something to find that makes us feel superior, etc., but who wants to only see that stuff? Look for the good. We tend to see whatever we are looking for.

Your post reminded me of the book, "Mr. Peabody's Apples," by Madonna. Excellent book about gossip and how hard it is to clean up.

I always love your "thinking out loud" posts. You have so many great insights.

Tawnie said...

I LOVE this. Great thoughts. We will be reading this as a family. Thanks for sharing.

Jaime Lester said...

I love Jesus! He is the reason that I am alive, He is the reason that I have happiness and joy in my life. He is everything, and I am nothing without Him. I try to live my life in a way that honors Him, but there are always things that we have to work on, to change, and to fight against. I am so thankful that I followed your blog, and get your posts through my email. I fully believe that speaking negatively gives Satan ammunition against us, but I have never considered that speaking negatively against someone else could give him ammunition against that person. Just hearing that gives me a huge desire to watch what I say in all situations. I thank you, honestly, from the bottom of my heart for this post. I hope that others have read this and it has changed people's hearts and minds. God works in mysterious ways. Blog Posts are just one of them!

Church Supply Store said...

Your thoughts are so pure. God loves each one of us and he has given us lots of opportunities to create ourselves in the likeness of God. Everyone should believe in Him for he is everywhere and everything is God.