We went on a family Christmas shopping trip yesterday evening to good old Target. Our goal was to let the boys pick something out for each other. So we split up, Keith took Cole and I took Allie and Grayden. Using our phones to inform each other as to our whereabouts, we were able to avoid bumping into each other as we shopped. After about 30 minutes we checked out in separate lanes and then walked back to the car together doing our best to keep the gifts concealed.
Keith and I loaded the trunk, buckled the kiddos, and felt satisfied in a mission accomplished. Except that not even 10 seconds after getting in the car Cole spilled the beans and blurted out to Grayden what he had gotten him.
Ha! Four year olds just can't keep a secret.
But the truth is, this isn't just a four year old's problem. So many grown adults struggle to keep a secret, especially a juicy one.
Recently I've had a few good friends share some personal things with me in confidence. Things other people might find tantalizingly juicy and gossip worthy. And I'll admit that I had a few moments where I was tempted to betray their confidence. Thankfully, I didn't. I determined many years ago after having been betrayed by a friend who took it upon herself to share something I had told her in confidence, that I would, to the best of my ability, be a consistently loyal and trustworthy friend. While I've not been perfect, I feel I've been very faithful to this commitment.
Why is it so hard for people to keep secrets and gossip to themselves?
And for the record, I'm not talking about dangerous secrets that need to be told in order to protect and prevent abuse and/or physical harm. That's another blog topic in and of itself.
There is actually a pretty simple answer to this question: Our sinful and very prideful flesh delights in sharing and hearing about another's struggle, wrongdoings, and/or juicy circumstances. We get a sick high off knowing when other people are down in the dumps, involved in a scandal, or are worse off than we are. Gossip is a downright lustful appetite to feed our pride.
And we all know the pathetic Christian gossip excuse. "I'm telling you this so you can pray."
That's a bunch of bull and we all know it. I imagine almost 95% of the time when this excuse is used, there are never prayers prayed. If we truly feel our friend needs prayer, then we personally pray. And we pray fervently and faithfully. There's usually no need to tell a bunch of other people so they can pray too.
Cole's spilling of the beans last night wasn't a big deal. Yet, it did remind me of the need to pray that my children grow up to be trustworthy friends. Friends who are loyal and stay quiet about something a friend shares with them in confidence. Friends who don't succumb to pride by feeding their lustful appetite for gossip.
Friends who adhere to the wisdom in Proverbs 11:13,
"A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret."
I want my children to be trustworthy friends rather than prideful gossips. And I trust that those of you reading feel the exact same way. So won't you join me and let's pray for our children in this regard.
Instill in my children a firm commitment to being trustworthy and loyal friends. May they stay quiet about those things that friends share with them in confidence. Give them the strength to resist the temptation to succumb to their pride and feed their appetite for gossip. I pray that instead of gossiping they would faithfully and fervently take to You whatever information their friends share with them in confidence. And may they never use prayer as an excuse for gossip.