Eavesdropping. Admit it: We’ve all done it. Whether you are in a confined space like the city bus and simply can’t help but to overhear a conversation, or whether you were in the office and intentionally listened in on a conversation, we have all been privy to information that we should not have heard. Unfortunately, what we overhear tends to influence the way we behave and think. But should we really allow that to happen?
As Christians, this is something that we need to be particularly careful about. You never know what you are going to hear coming out of a person’s mouth, and we are to guard our hearts and our minds. What you allow to come into your mind ultimately comes back out through your heart. Jesus has said a man speaks – and even more, we act – out of the abundance of our heart. If we allow evil thoughts to enter into our hearts then we can expect those things to take root and bear the same types of evil things in our thoughts and lives.
Unfortunately, what we tend to hear when we listen in to conversations is usually negative comments made about other people. These provide fodder for gossip, maliciousness, bitterness, and hatred to come into our hearts and manifest in our lives. Most of us do not set out to go out of our way to talk about other people, but what if the comments that you heard were about you? I know that for me, my first reaction is to go to my best friend or family and tell them exactly what so-and-so said about me, it hurts my feelings, and I may end up feeling bitterness or great dislike for the people who were speaking about me behind my back. It’s a natural, human reaction. I know I can’t be the only Christian who would feel that way.
Once we feel so negatively toward someone, it tends to affect our witness to them. We need to remember that, ultimately, we are ambassadors for Jesus. When people see us, they should see Jesus and His love reflected through us. We don’t give off a good reflection of our Master and Savior when we gossip about somebody in return, or when we allow that bitterness and hurt to take root and affect the way that we treat the other person. If we are the ones taking part in the gossip, we also need to realize that does not give a good reflection of Christ. Jesus did not talk about people behind their backs; when Jesus had something to say to somebody, like the Pharisees or Sadducees, He told them about it. And He only told them about it for their own good, to show them where they were falling short and challenge them to draw a little more closely to Him, so that they might believe that He really is who He says He is and be saved.
Eavesdropping can be a very difficult thing to avoid in close quarters. I work in an office, but we don’t have walls; we have cubicles that have a half wall between myself and the person next to me. We can see and hear everything the other people do and say. Still, in those instances where you accidentally overhear something that you should not have heard, I feel that it is best to pretend that it never happened and go on. If you are the kind of person who seeks to overhear a conversation, it is probably best not to continue to do so. Curiosity killed the cat, you know.