When someone sins against me, do I go directly to them, or am I gossiping to others?
15 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. - Matthew 18:15-17
God help us all to obey this teaching more. I wonder if this might be one of the most disobeyed teachings of all. First of all, how often do we go directly to the person, before we go tell others how badly the person mistreated us? Secondly, how many of us follow up with step two or three?
The best definition I have ever heard about gossip came from Zig Ziglar. He used to teach that we are gossiping (sinning), whenever we discuss our issues with others, with someone who is neither part of the problem or the solution. I believe a spouse would be the exception to this rule.
The church fails in this area too. When my ex-wife divorced me, she went to our church leaders and slandered me (happens often). Those leaders never came to me and asked for my side of the story. I found out about it while I was surfing with a guy who worked at the church. I suppose they simply took her word for it and felt no need to ask me.
On the other hand, I think there is too much peacekeeping going on and not enough healthy confrontation and accountability. We need to have the courage to gently confront the person who has sinned against us. Let reconciliation through forgiveness be our goal, but also keep in mind Pro 9:7-9 (don’t correct a mocker). God desires that we live in peace and sometimes separation is the most peaceful thing we can do. As Tozer said, sometimes
separation from others leads to personal revival.