Are we responsible for other people’s thoughts?

Sometimes, I believe we are.

The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts. Proverbs 18:8

What is a choice morsel? The Greek word is laham, which means to swallow greedily. Another phrase is “dainty trifles.”

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance says “choice morsel” means to wound: properly, to burn in, i.e. (figuratively) to rankle — wound.

Question: How do we wound people even if they never hear what we say about them?

Answer: We influence the thoughts of people.

Suppose I gossip, even just one choice sentence that embeds itself deep down into the person with whom I shared the sentence.  That is damaging enough, but suppose that choice secret is then shared with others. The news spreads. Now the thoughts of many people have been poisoned about the person I gossiped about.

I believe we are responsible for “thought bubbles” we create through gossip.

Suppose someone has whispered about you! Unbeknownst to you, people who are seeing you are now thinking the gossiped thought, though you remain clueless. In such cases, the following is likely happening even though you have no idea: facial expressions toward you are less animated, fewer conversations are initiated, stares increase, and you may have not received invitations to events or positions in leadership as conversations about you take place.

You may have no idea, but you are being wounded.

People we gossip about suffer the full consequences of the gossip whether they know about the “dainty trifles” or not. What a disconcerting reality to consider ourselves entering rooms with confident smiles and sharing our authentic selves while the gossip-fed thoughts of others are suspended above us like  invisible clouds above our heads.

Poison. Absolute poison.

Thankfully, as a Christ follower, what others think about us is of little to no concern. God does not hold us accountable for something we don’t know, and if we find out what is being spoken about us — true or false — our identity is in what Christ says about us, not others.

What if it’s not gossip?

Sometimes we must speak with others about something we are going through in order to process something complicated or receive good counsel. In such cases, we may need to share a name. In such cases, our words do not fall in the category of gossip or slander, but such conversations must take place carefully with spiritually and relationally mature people who are “safe” — able to know information about someone without becoming judgmental and still freely loving the person being discussed. Such people are hard to find. Choose carefully.

Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. (Proverbs 10:19)

We must remain careful.

Even in those safe relationships, however, we are to share just enough and not a syllable more. Why? Because we are influencing the thought bubble of the person we are confiding in! We need to protect those whom we confide in, too. When possible, select advisors who are not in the social circle of the person being discussed. If that is impossible, seek out mature people only, and keep the matter in as small a circle as possible if more than one person needs to be consulted.

We all need to be able to walk into rooms without thought bubbles about us floating around.

Let’s protect each other.

Picture Explanation: And the twins are 29. A new puppy for one and a baby on the way for the other.

If you are interested in being contacted about participating in a One Gritty Blink Bible study in 2023, click on the Oaks Ministries link below and contact me by email. Let’s focus on things that count for eternity!

© 2022 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.


6 Responses

  1. Hi, Laurie! Thank you for such a wise post and such a good reminder to honor others and to have integrity and discernment in terms of sharing concerns with others.

    How much damage we can do when we don’t have integrity and especially when we don’t go to our brothers and sisters FIRST with our concerns! The New Testament outlines principles for resolving problems with others. When we obey those principles, we receive God’s approval, and we put forward the best chance for constructive and others-honoring problem-solving.

    Thank you for including the thought bubble graphic. I think that will make the post really memorable to me!

    1. Thank you, friend. I have been challenged by this thought and being ever more careful about how and what I share. I want to honor God with my tongue, though I understand it is not completely trainable this side of heaven.

  2. Laurie,
    Great Post!
    Proverbs 18:8 was one of my mother’s “Pearls of Wisdom”❣️ I would like to use this quote from you in the future. “God does not hold us accountable for something we don’t know, and if we find out what is being spoken about us — true or false — our identity is in what Christ says about us, not others.”

    I also loved the image of us walking into a room without “thought bubbles” floating around.

    Happy Trails❣️

    1. Thank you for being a cheerleader in my life. You may use my quote, of course. I am glad the post had something worthwhile in it for you! The image of those thought bubbles has been helpful for me too.

  3. This is a great post! Words have the power of life and death. (Prov. 18:21) I know that is true because I have been hurt by other’s words, and I am sure my words have hurt others too. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil.” I can also remember my mother often saying: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!” That is very wise advice. Thank you for this post, Laurie.

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I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes growth.

1 Corinthians 3:6

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