Do your ears perk up when someone says, “Well, you’d never guess what I heard today” or “You are NEVER going to believe this”? Uh…mine do.
These two sentences are the beginning of many interesting conversations. However, the topics usually focus on individuals. Typically, the stories open with a minute detail of interest and morph into a speeding train on a damaged railroad.
Sadly, there are too many of us who enjoy listening intently to the shocking details of someone’s mother’s father’s cousin’s wife. The more appalling, the better.
“For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:7-8
Does that make us passengers on a slippery slope of the gossip train? Yep, I think that just might qualify.
Sure, many of us start with innocent intentions, which quickly grow into unadulterated gossipy exchanges.
The truth is many of us jump on the gossip train all too often. Being in ‘the know’ and listening to a good story about that strange man down the road every once in a while is okay, right? Wrong.
“Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.” James 4:11
Women seem to get the brunt of the blame for being passengers on the gossip train. Don’t be fooled, the rumormongers can be men, Christians, teachers, neighbors, friends, family, as well as the person you see in the mirror.
“Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.” 1Timothy 5:13
Of course, I’d be a bald-faced liar if I didn’t admit to saying, “now, this is between you, me and the fence post” more than a few times in my lifetime.
What if I remembered that the “fence post” was God? Oh, man…. That sure takes the fun out of a first-rate scandal!!
“Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.” Proverbs 20:19
With as much as my mouth runs on a daily basis, I have to be extremely careful to not become a gossip train traveler. It would do me well to keep in mind that “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.” (Wikipedia said this quote has no citation of an original source.)
So what can we do to halt the gossip train in its tracks?
- Build others up. – “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
- Keep our mouths shut. – “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.” Proverbs 26:20
- Remember that God is listening. – “Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.” Psalm 101:5
Gossiping is a habit. It doesn’t do anyone any good, including the gossipers. And God makes it pretty dang clear we are supposed to stay clear of it.
Jumping off the rambling railroad of ill report is not easy. However, gossip leads to hurt feelings, lost friendships and alienation. Is this what God wants for us? Absolutely not!
Encouraging one another is a MUCH better way to hang with friends and spread some cheer!!
How can you stay away from blether (a very cool word that means gossip)?
Some Wisdom for Today: Proverbs 16:28 – A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.