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The Small Group I belong to literally got smaller and smaller until there are only three of us left.

But it's okay. Now we can share things with each other we didn't want to share when the group was much bigger.

We have been reading through a book called "An Altar in the World" by Barbara Brown Taylor.

The last chapter we did was on pronouncing a blessing.

While discussing the chapter I mentioned that someone once said to bless means to speak well of.

It then stands to reason that when we are not speaking well of people, we are actually cursing them.

This is a sobering thought.

Unfortunately it is much easier, and sometimes even more enjoyable, to gossip about people, to judge them and to say all kinds of things we would never dream of saying to them if we were seeing them face to face.

Over and over the Lord tells us in His Word to stop speaking evil about other people:

Remind them [the believers]...to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people" (Titus 3:2).

Do not speak against one another, brethren He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it" (James 4:11).

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice" (Ephesians 4:29-31).

An evildoer listens to wicked lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue" (Proverbs 17:4).

The Lord doesn't want us to dump a lot of negative and destructive talk about other people on those we speak to.

He would rather that we speak well of others.

He would prefer us walking away from someone who is gossiping about someone else than for us to participate either by listening or by telling what we know or think we know.

Think of it this way: would you want someone to speak well of you and bless you in the process? Or would you want them to gossip and judge and to curse you by what they are doing?

I am pretty sure we would all prefer people to speak well of us, to bless us.

If that is true, then why do we not do unto them as we would want them to do unto us?

Take the time to listen to your words.

What are you saying about others?

Is it a blessing to those who hear you speak, and will it bless the person you are speaking about?

Or is it a curse to those who listen and would it curse the one you are speaking about?

Let us take the words the Lord spoke through Peter to heart: "
If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies" (1 Peter 3:10).

May your words be a blessing to the people who hear you speak.