Ponderings: Gossip

I really need to look things up more often.

Have you ever had an instance where you thought a word meant one thing and it ended up meaning something entirely different instead? Or else, you weren’t sure but thought you had it pretty close? That’s how I was about the word “gossip.” Ouch. Because of a certain situation, I decided to look up the word, to see what the boundaries are. Not what I was thinking at all. And I want to share this with you all now because we all need a good handle on what gossip really is.

Ready? Good.

gos·sip: ˈgä-səp : noun
1 a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others
2 rumor or report of an intimate nature 
Can you see why I wanted to share this with you? Cause it certainly makes me think twice now about what I share with others. My prayer is that it will enlighten others as well, because gossip is ruining our churches. 
It is.
Gossip creates disunity among brethren in many different ways. Those in “the know” and those on the “outside.” And that is just assuming the gossip is true! Think of how much more damaging gossip is when it is false! We are told in Proverbs 26:20 that “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. Discord vanishes when there is no one to gossip.
Oh, we believers do our best to “sanctify” gossip by calling it all kinds of names: Prayer Request*, Awareness, Concern… the list goes on, and we get really creative at times. In the end though, it is all one thing – gossip.
The KJV doesn’t use the word “gossip” really, but it has many other, very descriptive words to use in its stead, such as: busybody, talebearer, false accuser, slanderer, meddler… yeah. None of those words sounds too Christlike, do they?

To be fair, I don’t think that most of us mean to gossip. As for me, it ends up being a result of talking too much. The Bible calls it being an “open lip.” (Prov.20:19) Proverbs is a great place to go start a study on godly speech, and in 10:19 it says, “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” This is the one I need to memorize. It really speaks for itself.

Is it still a little blurry? This Proverb hit me square in the eyes – “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.” (11:13) This very situation has happened to me in high school, when I was not a very guarded individual: I told a really embarrassing secret about myself to someone I thought was a friend to me. She went along and told it to other people, who in turn told it to others, until it got back to me. I was horrified. I was hurt. (Prov. 18:8) I never lived that down. So before you reveal a juicy secret to someone, think about this: Are you betraying a trust? Will the person be harassed or embarassed if they find out others know**? What is the benefit of sharing this?

We also need to be careful of befriending gossips. Proverbs 20:19 says, “He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.” They will seem very friendly so that they can get details of your life out of you. They may seem the soul of discretion. BUT they may be just searching for a good bit of gossip to share with others. AND they may be so sneaky about it that you will never know that they told or who they told.

Proverbs also has some harsh descriptions of people who listen to gossip. That’s right, the ear is just as guilty as the mouth. In 17:4 it says, “A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.” We are not supposed to give evil speech airtime in our ears or any notice. Those who do are described as “wicked doers” and “liars”. 

As followers of Jesus Christ, we ought to take heed to His warning in Matthew 12. “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.“(v.36 & 37)

I like how the NASB words it in James 1:26. “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.

There are things that just shouldn’t be spoken. Other peoples’ business is just one of those things. So we all, myself included, need to ask ourselves these questions before we speak:
Is it profitable?
Is it revealing Christ properly?
Is it necessary to say?
Is it going to hurt someone or betray trust?
Is it going to cause disunity among the brethren?

We will probably find ourselves talking a lot less.

*I do believe there is a legitimate way to share requests, but often we justify gossip as a “prayer request.”
** Secrets concerning criminal or dangerous matters should never be kept. They ought always to be taken to the authorities and your pastor.

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