The winter and spring we’ve just had in Melbourne and Victoria has been wetter than usual, and the recent floods and heavy rain have provided the perfect breeding grounds for pests, especially mosquitos. As a result, public health authorities have predicted a bumper season for mozzies and concerns for the risk of Victorians contracting mosquito-borne diseases. So this week I stocked up on citronella candles and invested in a solar-powered mozzie zapper so we can enjoy being outside without being bitten.
The real problem though is the one or two mozzies that find their way into your bedroom at night. I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of starting to fall asleep only to be roused back to consciousness by the infuriating buzzing of a mosquito. It’s bizarre how such a small creature can be so annoying and keep you awake. And if the buzzing stops it’s probably because the bug is biting you!
I’ve had many experiences like this over the years and have eventually turned the light on and reached for the bug spray. At this point the mosquito is nowhere to be found. It’s like they know you’re trying to destroy them and take cover somewhere in the room. Switch the light off; get back into bed and a few minutes later, buzzzzzzzzzzz. Agh*#****#
In my church and pastoral experience over the years I’ve found a lot in common between mozzies and gossips. Just a couple of them can multiply quickly (one female mosquito can lay anywhere between 100 to 300 eggs at one time, and in her lifetime she can lay between 1,000 and 3,000 eggs).
Just one or two gossips can bite many people over and over again (a female mosquito will continue to bite and draw blood until her abdomen is full. If she is interrupted before she is full, she will fly to the next person. After feeding, the mosquito rests for two or three days before laying her eggs, then is ready to bite again). The gossip’s words cause people to itch and scratch (2 Timothy 4:3), bite and devour (Galatians 5:15).
Quotes in brackets are from this link http://www.mosquitoworld.net/mosquito-faqs/
One or two gossips can keep you awake all night. I can’t count the nights of sleep I’ve missed over the years because of people saying unkind and untrue things and spreading criticism and dissension amongst God’s people.
When you turn the light on the gossips are nowhere to be found or, when confronted, they deny they’ve said anything wrong. I’ve had gossipy people lie straight to my face about gossiping even though there are many witnesses to what they’ve said. They look at me as if butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths: “oh no pastor Rob, I’d never say something like that.” And yet when the light and attention goes off them they go straight back to their irritating buzzing again.
Gossip causes more damage in churches, families and workplaces, and amongst friends, than any other sin. And yes it is sinful. The Bible has much to say about gossip and those who spread it. A simple Google search will bring up dozens of Bible verses (especially in Proverbs) that are very much worth meditating on especially if you find yourself tempted to gossip.
To protect yourself from mozzie bites this summer make sure you cover up with loose-fitting clothing; use insect repellants, limit outdoor activity if lots of mosquitoes are about, and make sure there is no water around where mosquitoes can breed.
The same things work well to protect from gossips. Cover yourself with the Christian qualities outlined by the apostle Paul in Colossians 3:12b-14 “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Put up with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love …” (NIV).
The best gossip repellant is to counter their negative words by saying something like: “what you’re telling me is something I don’t need to hear” or “the Bible says that love always believes the best of another person. I choose to believe the best and will not listen to the gossip you are trying to spread.” These words also work wonders in getting rid of breeding grounds for gossip.
Even though the gossips will try and hide when you turn the light on don’t let them get away with it. Call it for what it is until they either get offended, leave or repent. It takes two people to spread gossip, choose not to be one of them!