Have you ever had that moment that you over hear someone talking to someone else about someone else? You try not to listen, but you still do. They are either talking way too loud or, perhaps, you are leaning in so you can hear better. Either way you are eavesdropping. Listening in on someone else's conversation.
Let's take it a step further. What about that awkward moment when you realize that they are discussing you? Awkward hardly describes that moment, right? You are, as my Momma would say, bumfusald (perplexed and confused). Struck still as stone. Awkward.
What do you do? Do you step closer to hear what they are saying? Do you quietly slip away? Do you get angry? Do you confront the offenders with outrage? Do you run to your friend and tell them what just happened? Do you begin talking about them? What would you do?
Would you ever considered joining the conversation? Humility is called for in this type of situation. Without malice or anger, but with intentional grace, step into the conversation. What do you think would happen if you tried to take the conversation to the next level? Listening and learning from what you're hearing. Asking questions. What was the issue. Was there a miscommunication? What could you glean from learning more about how others see you?
I was struck by this verse as I was reading through Ecclesiastes recently. Yes, we have all done this. Talking to a friend about someone else. It happens. You are conflicted and want to discuss your concerns with a friend, with a mentor. We all need advice or a moment to vent from time to time, but gossip is never good. Gossip really is just talking about someone else without an agenda towards resolving a situation. If you wouldn't say it to them, don't say it about them. That pretty much sums it up. Awkward.
The lessons from this verse is this: Take your discussion to a private setting, don't gossip for gossiping sake and don't eavesdrop. You might not like what you hear.
Ecclesiastes 7: 21-22 MSG
"Don’t eavesdrop on the conversation of others. What if the gossip’s about you and you’d rather not hear it? You’ve done that a few times, haven’t you—said things behind someone’s back you wouldn’t say to his face?"