"The words of a gossip are like choice morsels" Proverbs 18.8
Over August we have two Family Services at St Patrick's and this year I thought that I would choose things with which I personally struggle and look at what God's word says. Last Sunday our service was about watching what we say (Psalm 141.3) and we focused on gossip in particular.
We thought a little bit about how damaging gossip is - how it is the perfect crime. We can cause damage without anyone knowing that it was us. The reason for this is that gossip is hidden and secretive - it is why the Hebrew word behind the verse above is better translated whisperer. I think that it is for this reason that the Devil likes using it so much. God's work is to bring out into the open, what is said in secret (Matthew 10.26).
The Bible also speaks about how delicious gossip is - I suppose that's why we call it juicy. There is a thrill when someone tells us a bit of information and we bring pleasure to others when we tell them, thereby winning their friendship.
We also thought about how gossip is not just about people, but about communities. The church is greatly damaged when false things are passed around, regarding what is going on in the church.
We saw that the Lord Jesus in Mark 7.14-23 tells us that gossip really betrays what state our hearts are in. He never gossiped because his heart never wanted to.
The reason for the blog though, is to share a helpful check-list that I try to use to guard my mouth against speaking gossip:
- Is what I am about to say true? Do I know that, or am I just basing it on the word of one person? Do I know that that person knows because they have witnessed it, or have they just heard from someone else? (2 Cor 13.1)
- Does it need to be passed on at all?
- Am I telling someone who can do something? If what I want to say matters (and if it doesn't, why am I passing it on) - do I really want something to change? If so then I need to talk to someone who can do something - not just think that a whispering campaign will help - it never does.
- Would I be happy if the whisper was said out loud? What if the person who was being spoken about, heard that I had passed this information on?
- Am I acting out of love? This is a hard one to judge, because we are bad at reading our own hearts - so praying on our own is a good starting point. If I am about to make a criticism, how am I going to bless the one whom I am about to criticise?