Don't Be a Gossip
By Lance Mosher
Who has never been affected by gossip? Who has never had to go behind someone else, putting out fires? We all know how painful gossip can be; yet we find it difficult to refrain from it.
THE CONDITION OF THE HEART
What goes through your mind when you see something that doesn’t seem right? What is your initial reaction when you hear the latest “juicy” story? How does your heart react when someone mentions the latest scandal? If we do not keep our hearts, minds, and attitudes in check, we could easily fall prey of the devil’s schemes. He wants us to be quick to judge. The evil one wants us to embellish the story even more when we tell it. Do others who struggle with gossip know to come to you for the latest juice? Satan will tempt us to be excited to hear gossip and anxious to spread it.
James explains to us, “each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (Jas. 1:14-15). Some are not tempted to gossip, but those who are tempted to gossip can be assured the tempter will provide ample opportunities. Notice Paul’s sobering warning: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters… nor revilers [railers, gossips, slanderers], nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
Gossip is a real problem all around the world. However, it is not a new problem. Thousands of years ago, God provided His people with this wisdom:
Where there is no wood, the fire goes out;
Christ warns everyone that “the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness [lies], slanders [gossip]” (Matthew 15:18-19). What is the condition of your heart? Do you love your neighbor as yourself? Are you always seasoning your speech with grace (Col. 4:6)?
BUT WHAT IF IT’S NOT A TALE?
Growing up in the Southern USA, I have heard a fair share of stories that start with, “Bless her heart…” or “Bless his heart….” What followed was never an uplifting, positive story or compliment of someone, but words, usually true, that put down and make the listener think worse of the person whose heart is being “blessed.” For some reason, many people believe that it is only wrong to gossip when the story is either false or an unconfirmed rumor. If it’s true, what could be wrong with spreading it? However, consider another of the Lord’s Proverbs.
He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets,
The one who is a gossip at heart reveals secrets, betraying confidence. Jesus taught His audience that the Law and the prophets are summed up in one commandment: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you” (Matt. 7:12). Do you want others to reveal your secrets? Do you want others to “bless your heart” by hearing of your embarrassing moments?
SOME PRACTICAL ADVICE
Do you know the burning sensation to tell others what you heard earlier today? What about that automatic reaction to “share” the article you read off of social media that spreads fear and hate? That feeling is the desire of the flesh.
But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.
Most of us know our own weaknesses. We sometimes admit them to others, which we should do (cf. Jas. 5:16). We say things like, “I struggle with such-and-such.” Do you struggle with the sin of gossip? Before answering, deeply consider the word struggle. A struggle implies a force on both sides. If you are not putting up a fight, it is not a struggle; it’s a defeat. If you are struggling, and you’re ready to come out on top, consider some practical advice.
First, we need to see gossip as it truly is. It is a sin. God places it right next to sexual immorality and thievery (1 Cor. 6:9-10). It was the Lord who taught that when we struggle with sin, we must take drastic actions.
If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
To take this literally would render virtually everyone blind and handless. What the Lord wants us to do is recognize enablers to our temptations and sins. Do you have certain friends that cannot keep from spreading the latest scoops? Perhaps you should reconsider your friendship or regular outings. Ask your godly friends in your life to point out gossip in your speech. Ask them to pray for you. Avoid movies and TV shows that exalt gossip, like most teenage dramas these days. “Unfollow” and hide pages and posts that promote slander on social media. While in the checkout line of the store, keep your eyes off the tabloids. The next time you’re tempted to spread a less-than-positive story about someone, whether true or not, decide to pray for the person instead. Bottom line: do whatever it takes to remove temptation and become more like Jesus.
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
THE POWER OF WORDS
The immature one says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” The one who has experienced life says, “Words are powerful; think before you use them.” I recently saw a poster that says, “Before you speak, T.H.I.N.K.. Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind?” The Lord knows the power of words. He decided to communicate His plan to all of mankind through words. The devil also knows the power of words. Whose influence will you be under the next time you type, text, or speak?
Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.