July 7

Gossip, Part 1

Proverbs 26:22 The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.

Proverbs 16:28 A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.

Gossip is a scourge of this age. It’s always been a common sin, but there are multiple ways of spreading untruths and unauthorized information these days, and the damaging power of gossip is often unrestrained. Our call as believers is to understand what gossip is, be aware of its negative consequences—to us and others—and to refrain from doing it.

Gossip is powerful. We think it is a matter of our ears and our minds, but that is not what scripture says. It goes down into our “inmost body.” And there is nothing we can do to prevent that from happening once we give it or hear it. Its effect is “spreading strife,” and the separation of close friends. We recoil at the idea of deliberately doing that, but that is the effect of sharing gossip.

One mistake we make is to think that something isn’t gossip if it’s true. Yet the truth of a story is only part of the picture. First, there is the intention of the gossip itself. Is it to make the talebearer feel stronger, better, smarter, or “there first” with the information? We need to be brutally honest with ourselves as to why we should be sharing any information. To say that we are sharing for purposes of prayer can be one of the most destructive of self-deceptions we can engage in.

Then there is the issue of appropriateness. Scripture gives us good examples of pieces of truth that shouldn’t be shared. When King Saul and his son Jonathan died in battle, the future King David said (II Samuel 1:19-20), “…How the mighty have fallen! Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon—lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.” Yes, these brave men had died, but it would have been damaging to God’s purposes to share that information. That’s often the case with what we hear.

Lastly, there is the question of authority: Is it your information to share? Even if information is true and good, and you learned it in a natural and godly manner, the question remains: Do you have the right to share it? Or does that right belong to someone else? Is it your story, or someone else’s story? You have someone else’s reputation in your hands, and a person’s good name is worth something (see March 15 and 16).

Gossip goes down deep into the hearer, so we need to be aware of what we’re placing into another person’s inmost body.

Prayer: Father, gossip is so common in this world that I don’t often see when I’m doing it. Show me when I don’t have the authority (or Your permission) to spread what I hear. Please open my eyes, and remind me of Your word about its powerful effects.

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