“Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into ones heart” Prov:18:8.
It is hard to refuse to eat a delicious dessert, especially when its look is so tantalizing with all the décor atop it. Taking just a bite of it creates urgency within you to taste more of it. Its the same with GOSSIP. If you nibble on the first bite of gossip, you will feel like taking in more and more. We humans crave for news. While an ethical reporter checks facts and verifies wording, gossip has no commitment either to accuracy or good taste. It thrives on the juicy tit bits of gossip, what the dictionary defines as, “rumor, report, tattle, or behind-the-scenes information, especially of an intimate or personal nature.”
GOSSIP-WHAT DOES IT DO?
The Hebrew word for “gossip” means to murmur, which can be summed up with one word, “indistinct.” When we gossip, we paint a picture of someone that is very unclear. We usually hand that picture to someone else (in the form of gossip) who generally do little to clear it up. In fact, more often than not, the person you talk to will add a smudge or two to the picture before handing it off to someone else, and so on. Thus gossip betrays confidence (Prov: 11:13, 20:19), it separates close friends(Prov:16:28),tears down ones reputation and more importantly grieves God himself (Eph:4:30,31).
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT GOSSIP?
Gossip is a sign that we are not really active in our faith and in our lives. If you think about it, the busier we are, the less time we have to gossip. We no longer have the time to get wrapped up in someone else’s life. Gossip is bred out of boredom. It may start as a simple conversation about people, and then escalates quickly. The Bible clearly tells us to do more than discuss other people’s lives.
Leviticus 19:16 – “Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.”
Proverbs 11:13 – “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.”
1 Timothy 5:13 – “Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.”
Matthew 7:1 – “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”
INTERRUPTING THE CHAIN OF GOSSIP
When you hear someone gossiping, you can interrupt it with a simple request that they stop, and encourage them to go to the person in question and clarify if what they heard is true. It is easy to gossip when sharing prayer burdens concerning the prayer needs of others. This is an area where spiritual discernment must be exercised in keeping with Prov: 11:13. Remember, we are called to be a unified body that shines forth the light of Christ, and gossip only dims that light.
DEALING WITH GOSSIP
1. Go and approach the person
If you are gossiped about by someone else, try to approach them directly. Jesus commanded: “If your brother sins against you go and show him his fault, just between the two of you” (Matthew 18:15). If he does not listen, we are to approach him again with one or two others, hoping to find reconciliation (vs. 16). If he will not listen to them we are to bring it to the church (vs. 17). By the same token Jesus tells us to confront the brother who bears some grudge against us (Matthew 5:24). If we are to avoid the destruction of slander we must be “up front” with one another, earnestly seeking to resolve our differences.
2. Be quick to forgive
If you have been gossiped about, approach the person, talk about it and be quick to forgive. Unless rebuke is tied with forgiveness and love, it will not help the sinner in any way. “ If a person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive” Luke:17:4.
3. Do not let the sun go down on your anger
Do not let the day end before you begin to work on mending your relationship. The Bible doesn’t tell us that we should not get angry, but it points out that it is important to handle our anger with good disposition. Anger because of gossip, if vented thoughtlessly can destroy relationships. Paul exhorts believers to deal with anger in a way that builds relationships rather than destroying it. (Eph: 4:26, 27)
4. Resolve it with confession and prayer
The wise King Solomon exhorts in Prov: 17:14 to stop before a dispute breaks out. It is always good to resolve an unworthy gossip by going to the gossiper himself, speaking in a gentle tone (Prov: 15:1) holding back your anger (Prov: 29:11), overlooking the offence (Prov: 19:11) and resolving it with a word of prayer.
Just as a sponge cannot be blamed for what comes out of it when it is squeezed, the tongue cannot be blamed for what it utters. The sponge produces what is in it when squeezed; similarly the tongue brings forth what is in the heart. It is only when others delight in gossip, swallowing the slander like delicacies ever eager for more; the gossiper has a chance to gossip further. This flaw has to be overcome by filling our heart with the Word of God and allowing Him to use the tongue in a resourceful manner.
Someone has said, “Man is the master of the unspoken word which, if spoken becomes the master of him”. Let us yield our tongue to the control of the Spirit of God, so that we will remain totally free from the guilt of harming someone through worthless GOSSIP.
“IT IS WISER TO CHOOSE WHAT TO SAY THAN TO SAY WHAT YOU CHOOSE”
By Sarah Susanna, Coimbatore.