I picked up the sports section of The Oregonian dated February 5, 2002 and read Selena Roberts article about a sixteen-year-old ice skater, Sarah Hughes. Selena wrote:
“You know Sarah Hughes? She flutzes.” The words usually have come in the form of a whisper in some back corridor of a rink, in the back alley of a figure skating competition, from adults turned adolescents . . .Who started it, no one really knows. Maybe an opposing coach, a certain judge, a chatty critic. But from every direction, Hughes is hearing and reading how she takes off on the wrong edge as she enters her lutz, making it what’s called a flutz.
Gossip is insidious words propagated by insecure people. Like its brother Slander and first cousins Calumniate and Malign, this form of speech is designed to cast doubt on the character, attitude or behavior of others. We justify unkind remarks by expressing “concern” over what someone else is allegedly doing. We rationalize our negative comments as necessary so we “know how to pray for this person.” Pigbath! Jesus said in Matthew 12:36,37, “ I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
1 Peter 3:10--For the one who wants to love life and to see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit,
As I write this, I think of a man who I graciously took on staff who once spread unkind remarks about me behind my back. As often happens with gossip, the trail becomes a meandering circle that somehow manages to run to the one talked about. Feeling the betrayal and hurt his action caused made me take deep inventory of my own shortcomings. I think with deep regret of disparaging words I shared of those who in some way bothered me. There is a feeling of superiority that rises in our chests when we pass on less than flattering information. But that feeling turns into a heavy knot when we realize that by dishonorable speech we truly reveal ourselves as the immature ones. Before God I wish that I could take back careless, hurtful, ungodly buzz that spewed from my mouth.
Are you known as a gossip? I pray not. Don’t let your lips spread information undeserving of an audience. Learn from the proverbs King Solomon shared. “A contrary man spreads conflict, and a gossip separates close friends . . . The one who reveals secrets is a constant gossip; avoid someone with a big mouth . . . Without wood, fire goes out; without a gossip, conflict dies down” (Pro. 16:28; 20:19; 26:20). Remember also, that in our modern times, speech can take life as the written words we send out over the Internet. In my reserve unit, I do not allow my soldiers to send any derogatory information about someone else directly, or as forwarded copies by e-mail.
What should you do when tempted to share information that is unedifying? First, ask how you would feel if someone else shared the same information about you. Second, ask why it is necessary to share the information. Do you have an agenda that might be less than honorable? Third, would you share this information face to face with the one talked about? And are you absolutely sure about your facts? Fourth, pray—“Jesus how would You handle this situation?” Fifth, if you determine that it is appropriate to pass negative information, is your audience credible, trustworthy and able to bring the correct action to the situation? Be up front and honest in your dealings. Having done what you must, keep your words to a minimum.
What should you do when someone else gossips or shares unwholesome speech in your presence? First, ask the person if he has the permission of the one he or she is speaking about to say what has been said. If the answer is “no”, then politely ask the person to refrain from saying anything else unless there is a strong reason to continue (i.e. the law has been broken, someone is in great danger, etc.). Second, gently inform the speaker that you don’t want to be a gossip or to think of him as a gossip or slanderer and that there is no point in continuing such conversation. Third, pray! When we go to the Lord in prayer it is amazing how quickly our language changes!
“The one who loves a pure heart and gracious lips—the king is his friend”(Pro. 22:11). Those who control what comes out of their mouths, quickly earn the trust and respect of others. When we have the discipline to watch what we say we reveal wisdom. So often what we need most is not to utter anything but to remain silent.
A wise person has something to say, a fool has to say something.—Author Unknown
Don't let your tongue cut your throat.—Irish Proverb
©2002 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)