Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Teen Talk Tuesday - Word of Mouth

“Kind words spread out like ripples on water, but ill words will always follow you home.”
Charlotte and Tina made their way to an already crowded lunch table in the high school cafeteria and squeezed themselves onto a bench. Charlotte’s eyes were full of excitement, but Tina had an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach. Ever since Charlotte had made the cheerleading team, she and Tina had left sitting with their ‘old’ friends and sat with the ‘popular’ kids everyday at lunch and other school events. It is not that their new friends were not nice, a lot of them Tina had known before Charlotte became a cheerleader, but they always seemed to be picking on other people at school, especially Tina’s friends she used to hang out with. Spring Prom was on everybody's mind and the lunch table was buzzing with the latest gossip.

“Will asked Jessie to the prom, but she told me that she would never go with him because he backstabbed Marcy last year, remember that?”

“Yeah, I remember. But get this! You know Gabby, that girl who wears those funny glasses and dresses like a total geek? Well, I heard that her brother is wanting to ask Charlotte to prom this year! What a laugh!”

Charlotte pretended to be horrified and laughed along with the group, but Tina clenched her hands in her lap. Gabby had been one of Charlotte and Tina’s best friends before they had started to hang with this crowd and probably had ten times more true character than all of them put together. Not to mention, she was a whole lot nicer.

“Hey, whatever happened with you and Sandy, Charlotte? Last time I heard, you both were no longer on speaking terms.”

Tina glared at Charlotte, hoping she would catch the hint to keep quiet before she got herself into a tight mess, but her friend had already begun telling the group about the hurt friendship, adding in her own opinions and twists. Tina stared in shock as Charlotte chatted on and on about Sandy’s private life as easily as if she was talking about the weather outside. The girls around the table added in some more ‘stories’ about Sandy each time Charlotte paused and soon everybody’s eyes turned to Tina.

“Didn’t Sandy act really rude when she came over your house that one time, Tina? I tell you, that girl can be so annoying.”

Tina looked down at her now white knuckles. What should she do? Sandy had been rude at her house that one time, but Tina had confronted her about it and had forgiven her. If she said nothing, the popular girls would call her names and Charlotte would probably walk away. If she talked badly about Sandy, she would remain with the cool crowd, but would be talking cruelly about a friend she had already forgiven. Tina looked back up and scanned the girls sitting around the table. Each one expected her to talk – to share – to grill Sandy. Should she do what was right or do what the people around her did?

Tina opened her mouth and began to speak.

{This story has no end but will continue to begin. Only you can finish what the ending holds, but it is a choice. You have a voice – use it wisely.}

4 But you even undermine piety
   and hinder devotion to God.
5 Your sin prompts your mouth;
   you adopt the tongue of the crafty.
6 Your own mouth condemns you, not mine;
   your own lips testify against you.
- Job 15: 4-6
6 He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.”
   He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”
7 His mouth is full of lies and threats;
   trouble and evil are under his tongue.

8 He lies in wait near the villages;
   from ambush he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
- Psalm 10: 6-8

13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
   may they not rule over me
Then I will be blameless,
   innocent of great transgression.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
   be pleasing in your sight
  LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
- Psalm 19:13-14

8 The righteous person is rescued from trouble,
   and it falls on the wicked instead.
9 With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors,
   but through knowledge the righteous escape.
- Proverbs 11: 8-10
The Bible makes it clear that God does not like us gossiping or using our words to hurt others. As a teen, I know how hard it can be to remain silent  in those situations where talking behind someone’s back is encouraged. I know what it feels to mess up and have to go back. I know what it feels to be the person everybody talked about. It hurts…badly. Girls and guys reading this post, there are people in your school, youth groups, sports teams, etc., who are in need of a strong, loyal friend who can build them up and stand by them. From now on, when you see someone, tell yourself that Jesus made that person and He loves them just as much as He loves YOU. We are all here to support one another, so lets not keep smashing others down with our foolish words. When you are in a group where gossiping is involved, keep the people around you accountable and check yourself when you start to join in. Be a role model and challenge the teens around you to stop talking so much and start allowing God to speak through their lives.
Speak no evil
Lord, make me mute so that when I open my mouth, only Your voice will come out.

Thank you Lexi for starting our month off on how to handle gossip and taming our mouths to ensure we glorify Him –with such a powerful example!

Next week we will hear from Christie, and I’m sure she will share many pearls of wisdom as one of the leaders of youth programs alongside her husband, who is their church’s Youth Pastor.


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