Killing sin, killing gossip.

August 23, 2010

“True friends stab you in the front.” (Oscar Wilde, via Aaron)

I think we (definitely including myself in this) sometimes forget how powerful our words are.  With words, we can bring destruction or healing (Proverbs 16:24), death or life (Proverbs 18:21), harm or good (Ephesians 4:29).  Our words are never neutral, because they flow directly from hearts that know no neutrality (Luke 6:45).

As a teenager, what convicted me and brought me before the Cross as a needy sinner was the recognition of the heart of gossip in me.  Gossip is a sin, and on the surface, it seems harmless or shallow enough; but the heart of gossip is one seething with self-love, hatred, malice (however subtle), and an appetite for the ruin of others.

What is gossip?  Speaking for another’s harm rather than for their good, which is sometimes as slight a difference as telling someone something directly vs. telling someone else about it.  The unprofitable sharing of some juicy detail about another’s life, whether true or false.  The unprofitable revealing of personal information about another person, whether true or false.  Speculation can also become gossip. And even sharing a “funny” story about another person can be a form of gossip if it portrays them in a negative (rather than loving) light.  The nodding, the whispering, the knowing wink, the exchange of juicy morsels about another person’s life (Proverbs 18:8) — this is all gossip.  It destroys.  And it doesn’t just destroy the person who is the topic of gossip; it can destroy friendships, families, communities, the church.

We typically portray the perpetrators of gossip as idle women or young teenage girls; and while it is arguable that gossip in these contexts are often prolific and destructive, I would argue that gossip in the church, among professing believers, is the most devastating.  Gossip among brothers, gossip among sisters, gossip among church leaders, gossip among discipler and disciplee, gossip in any context.

Gossip can sometimes seem well-meaning (e.g., “he looks like he might have been abused,” “I think they may need help in their marriage,” “she doesn’t seem to fit in,” or even “look at their interactions; I wonder if something is going on?”), but when this kind of talk spreads to everyone but the people involved, can it possibly be good?  When this kind of talk surrounds a person and never reaches them directly, what does it profit that person?  Does it edify?  When more speculation is added to this kind of talk, never mind profitability; doesn’t it injure and wear at the dignity of the one you profess to love?

And how “well” gossip is often disguised in our “Christian” circles — “prayer requests,” “concern” for a neighbor, “seeking of advice.”  I am not discounting these; we should pray for one another, be concerned for one another, and seek counsel in regards to our relationships.  But I am discounting the heart of gossip that masquerades as “holiness” behind these good things (of which I’m too often a culprit, too).

If the church, the redeemed of God, is to be set apart by her love, what damage does gossip and its consequences then wreak on her reputation and on Christ Himself?  If the people called and set apart for Him find gossip so delicious (delicious because it elevates everyone but the subject of gossip), what does this say to those who don’t know Him, those to whom we are called to proclaim the transforming power of the gospel?  Have we nothing better to discuss?  Have we been called to be idle busybodies?  Is this the freedom for which Christ purchased us?  Is this the way we “lay down” our lives for our brethren?  Does gossip make Jesus Christ look glorious?

With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor,
but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.
(Proverbs 11:9)

The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
(Matthew 6:35-36)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
(Ephesians 4:29)

Our words are not cheap nothings.  They have eternal consequences.

There is the gospel.  And there is the gospel-adorning life.  Gossip does not adorn the gospel of Jesus Christ; it disfigures, destroys.  Let’s adorn His gospel, friends — you and I both.


8 Responses to “Killing sin, killing gossip.”

  1. garnet Says:

    : ) i just had a gossip discussion with my bible study students. seems to be the theme of the week!

  2. stephanie Says:

    i was waiting for this update! “Our words are not cheap nothings. They have eternal consequences.” – i love you tia.

  3. cindy Says:

    i miss you. come home soon so we can snuggle in our blankets! …in this 90 degree weather. eek! …maybe we can just sit with the blankets next to us. 🙂
    but really, good post. 🙂

  4. keziahkim Says:

    what a high calling to adorn our lives, our every word, with the gospel. thank you for the reminder – i tend to need them often! ❤

  5. tia Says:

    garnet, i mishooo (hehe), but see you and all the bereanites sooon!!

    steps, haha, you know me too well :] love youuu.

    cindy, i wonder if we can make snuggies?

    kez, me, too …

  6. mimi k. Says:

    so challenging & encouraging, tia~

  7. Ji Young Says:

    Yes, I am guilty of this from time to time as well. It’s great to be reminded of our heart’s intent. Thanks, Tia. ❤

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