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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Bridle Gossip”

On the surface of this episode, it’s easy to get distracted by what is more “obvious”. This episode obviously deals with racism, stereotypes, prejudice, and preconceived notions about other people. And those are things to keep in mind to be on the lookout for in life. However, to me, the bigger and more important lesson about the truth regarding racism happens to be in the progression of Twilight Sparkle.

I like to think we all start out in life as she starts out. We don’t have any preconceived notions when something “new” arises. We don’t have any biases or frames of reference or deference to authority or to others. We simply see a situation involving a new person and we respond accordingly based on our own curiosity and expeirence.

Then the same thing happens to us that happened to Twilight. We start talking about it to others who we trust and value the opinions of. And, since people are imperfect, occasionally we’ll get rumors. “Oh, their kind is always lazy.” “I worked with someone of that race and she was always on her cell phone.” “They always complain about everything and want it for free.” “They’re the type who are always doing all the shootings.” “You know they only came to this country to try and blow it up.” Now, I think most people don’t pay much attention to those at first. They realize that it’s just biased judgment or they simply use reason. Because not everyone of every race, creed, gender, or religion behaves one way, and that’s a fact of life. And we go on our way.

But…then comes media. Then comes online stories. Then comes reports. Then comes pretty much anything that casts a group of people in a negative light. And then those same people we talk to jump in and say: “Aha! You see? I told you that’s how they act!” And you may ignore it again. But then the same thing happens again. Maybe it’s because your source for news is itself biased. Maybe it’s simply that we tend to ignore similar crimes or misdeeds from our own race, creed, gender, or religion because, in that case, we know enough to judge the individual’s character rather than the group as a whole. Just like Twilight, we keep seeing evidence, and we keep hearing the same explanation proposed for it rather than anyone trying to seek a different one out.

And if that keeps up over time, day after day, month after month, year after year…we can find our hearts turning. Our minds twisting. Until finally we reach the point where we become like Twilight Sparkle and join in with the rest of the crowd.

Words, and in particular gossip, are the most powerful and potentially deadly forces known to man. The Bible attests to the power of words well. In James 3:8-9, it cautions: “But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.” And in terms of gossip, the Book of Proverbs (16:28) warns: “A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.”

Yet when it comes to gossip and talking about others, I think the greatest quote from the Bible to pay attention to is Proverbs 18:8 – “The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.” As the news media and politicians have made more than obvious, bad news sells. People prefer to listen to stories of strife and discord and anger against others than about peaceful things…or at the bare minimum pay more attention to them. What more, if there is any hate or bias or fear or prejudice in my heart or your heart, rest assured…you’ll find evidence to back it up in the world. Especially in the age of the Internet.

The fact of the matter is it doesn’t matter if any of this slander or gossip or hatred was true for 99.9999% of cases. God calls us to a higher standard and higher living. Even if there was a group of a million who had 999,999 who were “rotten to the core” and only one individual was good, don’t you think God would want us to treat everyone kindly for the sake of that one individual? And since that isn’t the case, what excuse do we have for prejudice? If there’s anything in my heart that makes me look at another human being and automatically conclude certain things about their personality or who they are, then it needs to go. I need to recognize it and focus on rooting it out.

And on that note, I must also watch well who I choose to listen to and who I want to hear. Just like the Bible cautions, so long as I have a bias or hatred inside me burning like a tiny flame, it’s going to actively seek more fuel to feed it. It’s yet another one of the evils in the world that we are called to rise above and constantly be on guard for.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, please help me to ever be vigilant for the sin of partiality or gossip. Help me to guard my ears from being attentive to words of hate and slander and my mouth restrained from speaking anger and malice, so that my heart may not turn cold and my mind corrupted. And if there already be seeds of racism, prejudice, irrational fear, and stereotypes in my heart that drive me away from being what you want me to be and reaching who you want me to reach, then help me to identify them, recognize them, and root them out. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”