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Psst! Have You Heard...? - Leviticus 19:11-18

Taught on | Topic: Gossip | Keywords: gossip, holiness, social media, tongue, prayer, love

The sin of gossip has never made it into the same lists as murder and manslaughter. It's regarded as one of the "little sins" that even Christians are unwilling to avoid. But gossip is in the same family as murder because it assassinates a person's character. It destroys reputations, disrupts families, divides friends, and causes heartbreak. And the problem isn't just in the speaking but in the hearing as well. Let's look at a direct command not to gossip.

Date Title   WatchListenNotes Share SaveBuy
2/11/2018
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Psst! Have You Heard...?
Leviticus 19:11-18
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
The sin of gossip has never made it into the same lists as murder and manslaughter. It's regarded as one of the "little sins" that even Christians are unwilling to avoid. But gossip is in the same family as murder because it assassinates a person's character. It destroys reputations, disrupts families, divides friends, and causes heartbreak. And the problem isn't just in the speaking but in the hearing as well. Let's look at a direct command not to gossip.
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Series Description

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White Collar Sins

White Collar Sins

We say we want to be holy, yet we tolerate sin on a daily basis, comfortable with its permeating presence in our homes, our relationships—our very lives. And while we view murder, lust, and lying as unbearably wicked, we trivialize gossip, gluttony, and envy. In the series White Collar Sins: Death in Its Sunday Best, Pastor Skip Heitzig challenges us to view all sin as destructive and recognize its painful consequences.

Outline

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  1. Words Are Personal (vv. 11-12, 14, 16)

  2. Words Have Potential (vv. 11-15)

  3. Words Are Powerful (v. 16)

  4. Words Should Be Purposeful (vv. 17-18)

Study Guide

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Recap Notes: February 11, 2018
Teacher: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "Psst! Have You Heard…?"
Text: Leviticus 19:11-18

Path

The sin of gossip has never made it into the same lists as murder and manslaughter. It's regarded as one of the "little sins" that even Christians are unwilling to avoid. But gossip is in the same family as murder because it assassinates a person's character. It destroys reputations, disrupts families, divides friends, and causes heartbreak. And the problem isn't just in the speaking but in the hearing as well. Pastor Skip looked at a direct command not to gossip, sharing four practical observations about our words:
  • Words Are Personal (vv. 11-12, 14, 16)
  • Words Have Potential (vv. 11-15)
  • Words Are Powerful (v. 16)
  • Words Should Be Purposeful (vv. 17-18)
Points

Words Are Personal
  • The word you is used fifty-four times in Leviticus 19, where God gives a direct command not to gossip along with other general rules drawn from the Ten Commandments about how to use our speech.
  • The average person spends one-fifth of his or her life talking. We have incredible capability to express ourselves verbally and lots of opportunities to do so. But that brings up a challenge: because our words are also written—on paper and computers, on social media and in texts—we are moving toward progressively less personal ways of communicating.
  • We must beware of thin relationships—"friends" we've never met and people we follow without knowing more than what they ate for breakfast.
  • Probe: Pastor Skip noted that "real fellowship isn't limited to 140 characters." What are the pros and cons of social media and texting? What efforts do you make to ensure you are developing deeper relationships with people?
Words Have Potential
  • In Leviticus 19, God focused mainly on the negative potential of words, giving commands on how not to use them. We need to use restraint with our words.
  • If we reverse those negative commands, we can see positive ways to speak. For example, "you shall not swear by My name falsely" (v. 12) can be seen conversely as a command to pray, worship, intercede, and bless in the Lord's name.
  • Proverbs 18:21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Proverbs 12:18 says, "There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health." Some words encourage; others discourage. Some impoverish; others enrich.
  • James 3 describes the incredible potential of the tongue, making it clear that only God can help us control ours.
  • Probe: Read James 3:2-12. What points stick out to you? Discuss why we should seek God's help in controlling our tongues.
Words Are Powerful
  • God directly commands us not to be talebearers. A talebearer wants you to have a negative opinion about the person they're telling you about.
  • The difference between a talebearer and a concerned friend is the difference between a butcher and a surgeon; both cut the meat, but with totally different purposes in mind.
  • It's easy in church circles to bear tales, couching gossip in holy-sounding language—a "concern" about someone or a prayer that casts the person being prayed about in a bad light. Because it's a prayer, people will tend to think it must be true, whether it is or not.
  • How do you know if you're spreading gossip or not? Do you raise your voice to share it, or lower it? "A whisperer separates the best of friends" (Proverbs 16:28).
  • Probe: Review the list in Proverbs 6:16-19 of things God hates. How many of them have to do with words? Which do you think is most dangerous, and why?
Words Should Be Purposeful
  • God describes gossip as "[hating] your brother in your heart" (Leviticus 19:17). Our words reflect what's going on inside our thought life. Words are a gauge of the heart.
  • As Jesus said, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45).
  • Washing a mouth out with soap doesn't get to the root of the problem—but love does. Love "does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth" (1 Corinthians 13:6).
  • Gossip comes from people who hate, not people who love their neighbors as themselves (see Leviticus 19:18). We love others when we go to them directly with the issue we have with them. Matthew 18 lays out Jesus's protocol for nipping gossip in the bud.
  • The reason why so many mouths are opened in gossip is because there are so many open ears wanting to hear it.
  • Review Pastor Skip's five questions to ask when someone gives you a bad report on someone else:
    • "Why are you telling me?" Have they already gone to the person directly and need your help as a witness? Or do they just want to gossip?
    • "Where did you get your info?" Direct experience or hearsay?
    • "Have you gone to that person directly?" Matthew 18 tells us to.
    • "Have you checked the facts for yourself?" Always a good idea.
    • "Can I quote you on this?" This is the real litmus test for their intentions.
  • Probe: Have you ever applied this list to a situation? If so, what were the results? If not, what effect do you think it would've had on a gossipy conversation?
Practice

Connect Up: Knowing that God hates words that are divisive, discouraging, and destructive, are you willing to ask Him if you need to work on any of these types of speaking? Read Matthew 5:11-16. If you are the light of the world, how should that affect your speech? What does it mean to bear God's image instead of being a talebearer?

Connect In: What are the effects of talebearing in the body of Christ? Read Matthew 18:15-17. What would happen to gossip if Christians put Jesus' words into practice in everyday life? Will you commit to trying it out the next time you face such a situation?

Connect Out: How you deal with gossip as a Christian can really set you apart from the pack, whether it's at work, at the gym, or in your neighborhood. And how you handle it (especially when it affects you personally) matters to God. Read 1 Peter 2:12. Discuss when to tell the truth, when to be silent (see Exodus 14:14), and when to confront (see Matthew 18)—but remember: do it all with love (see Colossians 3:14).

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. The human tongue can inflict a lot of damage through gossip
    2. We are given a direct commandment from God not to gossip
    3. The book of Leviticus is about holiness
      1. Holiness is God's least attractive attribute
        1. We want to talk about God's love, power, grace, etc.
        2. Holiness scares us
        3. We don't really know what it means
      2. Of all God's attributes, His holiness is mentioned most
    4. In Leviticus 19, the Ten Commandments are repeated and fleshed out (see vv. 1-10)
    5. In verses 11-18, the author talked about our speech
  2. Words Are Personal (vv. 11-12, 14, 16)
    1. They convey who you are as a person to others
    2. The word you occurs fifty-four times in this chapter alone
    3. God has given us the capacity to communicate with our words
      1. Men and women communicate differently
      2. Zacharias was made mute for not believing his wife would conceive (see Luke 1:5-20)
    4. We not only speak words, but we also write them down
      1. Letters, email, social media, texts
      2. Written words are harder to understand
        1. You cannot hear intonation or inflection
        2. You also cannot see body language
      3. The fullest form of communication is in person
      4. Social media has revolutionized the way our culture communicates
        1. Our language is changing meaning
        2. We are cultivating thin relationships
  3. Words Have Potential (vv. 11-15)
    1. We can choose to use our words for good or for bad (see Proverbs 18:21)
      1. Some words can destroy—others can delight; some words can enrich—others can kill (see Proverbs 12:18)
      2. James acknowledged the potential of the tongue (see James 3:2-10)
    2. The tongue can bless or curse
  4. Words Are Powerful (v. 16)
    1. Talebearers
      1. There may be traces of truth in what they say
      2. They are not trying to reveal truth; they are trying to ruin the person they are talking about
      3. The difference between a talebearer and a concerned friend is the difference between a butcher and a surgeon
      4. Words can ruin one's reputation by bearing a tale
      5. Rakil = slanderer
    2. As believers, we have become very crafty at the sin of gossip
      1. We package it not as gossip, but as concern
      2. We package it in prayer
      3. To discern whether what you are sharing is gossip, ask yourself whether you raise or lower your voice as you tell it (see Proverbs 16:28)
    3. Of the seven things God hates, three of them have to do with the tongue
      1. If God hates something, we should pay attention so we don't do it
      2. "One who sows discord among brethren" (Proverbs 6:19)
  5. Words Should Be Purposeful (vv. 17-18)
    1. Words are just a gauge of the heart (see Luke 6:45)
      1. If you speak good things, it reveals good things are in your heart
      2. If you speak bad things, it reveals bad things are in your heart
    2. If you really love people, you don't slander them (see 1 Corinthians 13:6)
      1. If someone hurts you, you must go to that person directly and talk about it
      2. Don't talk about that person—talk to them (see Matthew 18:15)
    3. The problem is not just that people love to say gossip; it's that people love to hear it
      1. There wouldn't be so many open mouths if there weren't so many open ears
      2. We enjoy hearing gossip (see Proverbs 18:8)
    4. When someone wants to bring you gossip:
      1. Ask them why they are bringing it to you specifically
      2. Ask them where they got their information
      3. Ask them if they have gone directly to that person
      4. Ask them if they have personally checked out the facts
      5. Ask them if you can quote them on it
Figures referenced: Tim Challies, Billy Graham, Bill Grayolis, Erik Jan Hanussen, Adolf Hitler, Gervase Markham

Works referenced: "Solomon on Social Media"

Hebrew words: rakil

Cross references: Leviticus 19:1-10; Proverbs 6:19; 12:18; 16:28; 18:8, 21; Matthew 18:15; Luke 1:5-20; 6:45; 1 Corinthians 13:6; James 3:2-10

Additional Messages in this Series

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1/14/2018
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Sin in a Three-Piece Suit
Matthew 23
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Someone remarked that our sense of sin is in proportion to our nearness to God. We’re usually good at being aware of blatant wickedness, but what about less obvious infractions? Are we willing to point fingers at others for flagrant iniquity while coddling our own vices? The truth is that many are too Christian to enjoy sinning while being too fond of sinning to enjoy Christianity. My purpose in this series isn’t to condemn anyone. I hope to stimulate a heart for holiness for a fulfilled life and happy relationships. To start off this series, consider five characteristics of sin.
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1/21/2018
completed
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The Lazy Life of the Couch Potato
Proverbs 6:6-11;Romans 12:11
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
The first in our list of White Collar Sins will be laziness—showing a lack of effort or energy, the unwillingness to act or, in some cases, even care. Though many would smirk at this as being petty or trivial (after all there are much worse things in the world), the Bible itself addresses it as being substantial since many other lives can be affected by it. Laziness grows on people; it begins in cobwebs and ends in chains.
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1/28/2018
completed
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Fighting the Green-Eyed Monster
Genesis 37; Acts 7:9-10
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Some attitudes can go undetected, at least for a while. You can't see someone committing envy or having resentful thoughts. But envy is detrimental because it blinds us and makes it impossible for us to think clearly. It discolors everything around us and steals our peace. Some know what it’s like to be envied, like Marilyn Monroe who once quipped, "Success makes so many people hate you." But most of us from time to time struggle with envying someone else.
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2/4/2018
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The Destructive Harvest of a Bitter Heart
Hebrews 12:14-15
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Message Summary
We all know someone who has become embittered in life. They have planted kernels of unresolved anger and resentment and have become entrapped by the overgrown jungle of the bitter fruit it has created. To choose the bitter path (and it is a choice) is to walk down a self-destructive road that banishes peace and promotes self-centeredness. Let’s consider several Scriptures and the four attributes of a heart poisoned by bitterness.
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There are 4 additional messages in this series.