A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.
Recently I watched gossip about two people sweep through a group of friends.
It reminded me of the tornado that passed through our town a month ago. In the tornado’s wake I observed mangled tree limbs hanging precariously from tree trunks, yards littered with leaves and branches; thick roots from stately old trees and surrounding ground uprooted, laying on their side like opened lids on cans; medium-sized trees lay in power line hammocks, docks’ metal twisted like candy canes, pontoons doing back floats and torn-up roofs were letting heaven’s tears fall into its rooms unprotected.
The gossip tornado left behind destruction in its path also: distrust, loss of friendships, disappointment, anxiety, and anger. It was just as mangled a scene.
I even got swept up into the wind’s current for a moment. I thought the person speaking to me was doing so out of deep concern and love for another. Thankfully, some choice words revealed a deeper motive of self-interest that woke me up and gave me the insight to turn the conversation around and then leave the starting storm before I was swept up in it.
Unfortunately, this person just went on to the next person and then the next, and the next, and soon a tornado was in full force.
Words have no wings but they can fly a thousand miles.—Korean saying
Words have the ability to speak life...or death.
Gossip damages not only the person who it is directed at, but it damages our spirit when we get involved in it. We are shading someone’s view of someone else without that person’s say or explanation. And I think deep down we know this is wrong. We are grieving Holy Spirit residing in us when we use our tongue this way.
Being the subject of gossip is not fun either. I’m sure you can think of a time this has been true for you. It is disappointing and hurtful. Devastating even.
Living on a small college campus, I was the focus and subject of gossip for an extended time. And it was injurious. On the positive side, it made me trust and lean into the One who loved me deeply and knew the truth about me. That experience has given me insight regarding who are my true friends. Now I ask myself, "Who trusts my character through the gossip? Who comes to me directly with concerns instead of jumping into the gossip wind?"
When we participate in gossip, we are communicating to others that we are not honorable or trustworthy in character.
Anyone who will gossip to you, will gossip about you.—unknown
Even if the gossip is true, talking to others about it isn't the honorable thing to do.
Gossip needn’t be false to be evil—there’s a lot of truth that shouldn't be passed around. —Frank A. Clark
Dictionary.com describes gossip as: Idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others. Tattling. Google dictionary describes it as Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true. Merriam-Webster adds “revealing personal or sensational information. A rumor or report of an intimate nature.”
When speaking, these descriptors are useful to keep in mind to alert us if we are heading towards the dangerous gossip tornado.
As always, the great wisdom of the Holy Scriptures has something to say about gossip as well:
A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret. (Proverbs 11:13)
A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much. (Proverbs 20:19)
Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. (Proverbs 26:20)
I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.
(2 Corinthians 12:20b)
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, (Romans 1:29)
If we don’t think that gossip is that big of a deal, note that the Bible lists it along with murder and prefaces it with descriptors of wickedness, evil, and depravity.
And Christians can be gold medalists at gossip in the form of prayer requests. We need to make sure we look at our heart motive when asking others to pray for someone and what details are actually necessary to share.
Dear sisters, gossip is not something to take lightly. It destroys our character and those we gossip about. It can leave behind tornado-strength damage. Let’s make sure we listen to Holy Spirit’s promptings when we speak. And if you see a gossip tornado coming your way, run.
The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.