Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Beware of Gossip (Proverbs 18:8; 20:19; 26:22)

"The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts" (Prov. 18:8).

When we think of gossips, we often imagine a group of spinsters with too much time on their hands, weaving and embellishing tales about neighbors. Or we envision teenagers whispering secrets and half-truths behind one another’s backs. Rarely do we think of the mature Christian who tails to watch his tongue as he relates to another Christian his concern about a troublesome friend. We consider a group of godly women, gathered for Bible study, in which one offers an exceptionally detailed prayer request for an absent member. Gossip is an insidious opportunistic fiend that targets divisions in the body of Christ, and it often successfully disguises itself as concern, compassion, and love. If we fail to recognize how easy it is to slip into this sin, we will easily stumble into the chasm.

Bridges reminds us that all interaction in social life must be based on love, defined (in 1 Cor. 13) as kind, discreet; it “does not rejoice in iniquity” (v. 6). Before you “share” your concern about another person to a friend, consider how the subject would feel if he or she knew of your conversation. Consider how the recipient will process what you have to say—will your words provoke prejudice and unkind thinking in them against the other person? Does this person really need to know this information? Could you be tempting them to gossip? If most of us took the time to consider the circumstances and consequences of our conversations, we would speak a lot less frequently.

While the subtle temptations to gossip are difficult to discern, obvious transgression of this sin should be avoided at all cost. If someone tells you something in secret, do not violate that sacred trust. To violate such a confidence could sever a relationship beyond repair. It may take years, if ever, to restore that trust. Do not spread rumors, opinions, or half-truths about others. This is especially important in the body of Christ. Satan looks for every foothold to tear apart the church and finds the open door of gossip an easy strategy. One hapless word could spark a fire that might eventually consume an entire body of believers. Beware then of stray words and thoughtless speech. Speak in love, and thus fulfill the commandment of God.

Think about the consequences of what you say before you speak. Do you tell people more than they need to know about others? If you find yourself in conversation with a gossip, confront them about their sin, or at the very least, leave so that your presence might not be seen as approval.