"Did you hear about the new pastor's wife? Well, I don't want to gossip, but you should probably know what's going on with her before you meet her. Let me tell you ALL about it... it all started when..."
Ok, an unrealistic example and so maybe you haven't been gossiping about the pastor's wife. But gossip easily and quietly slips into everyday conversation. Sometimes you don't intend to gossip. But you do.
I recently listened to a CD on gossip and would like to share what I have learned (and am still learning) about gossip.
To start off, what is gossip anyway? Is it merely talking about someone with another person? Or maybe it's just when you're talking rudely about another person... right?
Well, Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines gossip as:
To prate; to chat; to talk much. To run about and tattle; to tell idle tales.
My favorite definition is from Scott Brown, in his lecture Gossip: The Plague of the Church. Mr. Brown defines gossip as:
a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts, a rumor or a report of an intimate nature.
This is closely related to slander:
A false tale or report maliciously uttered, and tending to injure the reputation of another by lessening him in the esteem of his fellow citizens, by exposing him to impeachment and punishment, or by impairing his means of living; defamation.
Sounds pretty terrible. It is shameful to think how each one of us is guilty, in one way or another, of gossiping or slandering another person.
Be guarded; it is hard to believe how often the sin of gossip takes on different forms and then quickly slips into your life. Besides the obvious part, gossip can be disguised as seeking counsel, as bearing one another's burdens, or even as a prayer request.
Here are a few insights about gossip from scripture:
It's an abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 6:16-19);
Sows discord among the brethren (Romans 16:17-18);
It kindles and then sustains strife (Proverbs 26:20-23);
It is equivalent with judging the law (James 4:11);
It goes on the list with really gruesome sins (Proverbs 6:16-19);
the opposite of love, brotherhood, compassion, tenderheartedness, courtesy, and blessing which we are called to in 1 Pet. 3;
And it is fueled by arrogance and ends in separation (Titus 3:10).
In addition to that, these verses and more say to reject or not keep company with a person who cannot guard their tongue. Families, churches, companies, and homes have been destroyed by hearing and then doing gossip.
However, we are frail human beings and we are sinful. No one can tame the tongue. We sure won't be perfect at guarding our tongues but, through God's grace, it's better today than it was yesterday and tomorrow will be better than today.