It is almost Spring in Nebraska and this past week has been filled with all kinds of weather. On the East side of the state has been high winds, tornadoes and large hail and rain. On the west side of the state has been high winds, rain and snow. Where I live in the middle of the state we have had high winds and 70 (F) degree weather. The one all-state prediction that we had in common was high winds. In fact the wind was blowing with gusts past 70 miles per hour and sustained winds of 40 miles per hour. That is Springtime in Nebraska! As the wind was blowing my long hair all over my face when I went outside to get the mail I thought how chaotic high winds are. In fact for those who were travelling down the interstate it was sometimes dangerous. The reports from the news showed semi-trucks that were blown over as they drove down the interstate highway. Yes high winds are dangerous. My neighbor’s fence has parts of it that were blown over and I am sure that will be a headache to fix. Living in Nebraska is always fun though if for no other reason but that the weather is always changing and keeps us from being bored. I think that gossip is like Nebraska winds.
A scoundrel plots evil, and on their lips it is like a scorching fire. A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends. Proverbs 16:27-28, (New International Version or NIV).
A wicked person listens to deceitful lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue. Proverbs 17:4, (NIV).
What is gossip anyway? Well I looked it up to be sure that my understanding of what gossip is was correct.
Definition of gossip
1 a dialectal British A: godparent B: companion, crony C: a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others the worst gossip in town
2 A: rumor or report of an intimate nature spreading gossip about their divorce B: a chatty talk C: the subject matter of gossip. Their breakup was common gossip. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gossip
My paraphrase is that gossip is when you know what the truth is but willfully distort the facts to make the story much more interesting and then spread it among acquaintances. Gossip is talking about other people in such a way that will cause them harm. You deliberately tell something that will hurt a reputation or a relationship. Gossip can certainly be as chaotic and destructive as the winds that Nebraska has been experiencing. There are so many people who love to hang on every word that is spoken in a gossip session. Rumors get started because someone has been gossiping. It is really disruptive to the harmonious life that we Christians are called to live (Romans 12:16).
I have to admit that there are times when I struggle with the differences between gossip and truth being told. For instance when someone has treated me horribly and I am not deserving of their mean treatment. I want others to know how awful I feel. I have a legitimate reason to talk about this person as I want to warn people not to get involved with that person so that they won’t be harmed. Is that gossiping? Can the person I am talking about be harmed by my words about them? Yes, but I don’t believe that it is gossip especially if the deed done to me was bordering on illegal. Perhaps this person stole something from me or cheated me out of some money. Others need to be warned and I think it would be remiss of me not to warn my friends in this instance. After all we are told to shine light and expose the darkness (Ephesians 5:11). But I never feel very good about warning my friends about another person. I always feel like I am gossiping. My Mother used to tell me that telling the truth is not gossiping because gossip distorts the truth. Perhaps she was right. As I get older I find myself turned off by gossip, I don’t even want to hear it and I certainly don’t want to pass it on. I am trying to live out the wisdom of Proverbs.
Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9, (NIV).
Living a life that allows love to cover a multitude of sins is so much better, and I never feel guilty in doing so. But I have used the Old Testament book of Proverbs for my sources and I want to also show that the New Testament also teaches not to be a gossip. Look at what the Apostle Paul says to the people in Thessalonica who attended church.
We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good. 2 Thessalonians 3:11-13, (NIV).
As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. 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 busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to. So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan. 1 Timothy 5:11-15 (NIV).
For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. Titus 1:10-16, (NIV).
I especially chose these three passages but there are others as well. The main point about those who participate in gossiping about others is that the talk is not wholesome, it eventually hurts others, and to participate in gossip means that you have time to gossip and the work of the Gospel is being neglected. Gossiping among Christians shows immaturity and undisciplined behavior. I hope that you are not a gossip, but if you are, stop! Just like the high winds in Nebraska have caused havoc for others so gossip causes havoc so just stop!