Watching what we say - Hope 103.2

Watching what we say

Morning Devotions is for those curious about the Christian faith and who want to explore Christian issues that relate to their daily life.

By Chris WittsSunday 20 Oct 2013Morning Devotions with Chris WittsLifeReading Time: 0 minutes


One of the reasons I’ve heard,for why people don’t go to church,is this. “I don’t want to be with a group of people who gossip about others”. Have you heard that said? It’s very unfortunate that sometimes we in the church are condemned for the way we tear down others. Others say gossip is only a little sin,and not as serious as lying or murder. But have we ever stopped to consider the effect of gossip? The story of what happened to a family in a small North Dakota community illustrates this truth. The mother had not been well since the birth of her second baby,but everyone knew she did all she could to create an atmosphere of love in the home. The neighbours could see the father being met at the door each evening with hugs and kisses from his wife and two small children. In summer when the windows were open,they could hear the laughter and joyous fun coming from inside the house.

Then one day a village gossip whispered that the man was being unfaithful to his wife,a story completely without basis. It was passed on by others,and eventually came to his wife’s ears. It was more than she could bear. One evening when her husband came home,no one met him at the door. There was a deathly silence in the air. His wife had taken her own life and those of her two children. He was overcome with grief. His innocence was proven to all,but the gossip’s tongue had already done its work. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. The tongue can be full of deadly poison.

We need to ask the Lord for his help in keeping a check over our tongue. . The psalmist did. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight,O Lord,my Rock and my Redeemer “.(Psalm 19:14). Another verse from the Bible says “Set a guard,O LORD,over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). God loves to help people who humbly admit their need and ask Him for help. He can help us conquer the gossip habit.
Do you know that you carry a lethal weapon with you wherever you go?. The Spirit of God led Solomon to write,”Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). That is an amazing statement!! You may have heard about the conversation where Ellen says,”Suzie told me you told her the secret that I told you not to tell her.” Jane answers,”Why that blabber mouth! I told her not to tell you I told her.” So Ellen replies,”Well,I told her I wouldn’t tell you she told me,so don’t tell her I did.” That friendship is doomed. Friends have to be able to trust each other.
As a committed Christian,my guess is that we want our conversations to honour God,and not to hurt others. But why do so many Christians gossip?

While the word is not prominent in Scripture,the idea of gossip is sprinkled throughout the Bible. It mentions talebearers,people who whisper derogatory information about others. It mentions backbiters,people who talk about faults of others behind their backs. It mentions slanderers,people who speak against others,often with a desire to do them harm. It talks about speaking evil of people or maligning them. We can sum it all up with one word,gossip. It is an ugly word. Gossip is talking about those faults to people who cannot do anything about them,people who are neither a part of the problem nor a part of the solution. And talking about them to others is gossip,whether it is rumour or fact,true or false. God says,”Brothers,do not slander one another”  (James 4:11). It is wrong to spread accounts of the sins of other people,to put them in a bad light,to say things that will cause other people to dislike them,disrespect them or distrust them. Yet gossip seems to be another one of the Christian’s favourite pastimes. Why?

Most of us want others to think well of us. If we were honest,we would admit that a good bit of our thought-life is occupied with our acceptance level: “Do they know who I am? Do they like me? Do they respect me? Do they think I know what I’m talking about? Do they think I’m attractive? Do they like what I’m wearing? Do they want to be with me?” The lower our self-esteem is,the more we worry about things like that,but all of us give some thought to them.

And that is why we gossip. We want to make ourselves look better and gain greater acceptance. If we have confidential information others do not have,it makes us appear important,knowledgeable and superior. People will listen to us. If we fear somebody else excels us in some way,cutting them down helps us excuse our failure to achieve what they have achieved. If we are jealous of the attention or acclaim they get,pointing out their faults makes us look a little better by comparison. If somebody has injured us,putting them in a bad light seems to us to be a fair way of retaliating,balancing the scales and restoring some of our self-esteem. It can also be an effective way of winning people to our side in the conflict. We seem to think that having more people on our side gives us greater worth. It would help us more though,if we realised that God loves us as we are,that He has accepted us in Christ and considers us a valuable part of His team with a significant role to fill. We don’t need to put others in bad light to establish our own importance.

We may have grown up in a home when our parents used to gossip and so were led to believe it was an acceptable part of life. Another possibility is that we have not developed our minds to the extent that we have anything else to talk about but people. It would help to develop our minds.
On the other hand,there may be no malicious intent. It is just idle talk,or an effort to appear on the “inside.” But the result is just the same. “A gossip betrays a confidence,but a trustworthy friend keeps a secret”. (Proverbs 11:13).

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Before we open our mouths it might be good to ask,”Will this build respect for the person I am about to mention? Will it build trust? Will it build love?” If not,it would be better to leave it unsaid

We alienate our own closest friends by gossip. They begin to suspect that if we talk about others to them,we will also talk about them to others,so they hesitate to share their souls with us. And if we do talk about them,you can be sure it will get back to them,usually exaggerated by a few degrees. And no matter how much we protest that we did not say exactly that,the friendship could be irreparably damaged.

Another consequence of gossip is that it wounds people. “The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels,and they go down into the innermost parts of the body” (Proverbs 18:8). How do you feel when you find out that people have been talking about you unfavourably? They may have enjoyed it as one would enjoy a dainty morsel,but it hurts you,doesn’t it? And the hurt reaches down to your innermost being. While we know the Lord wants us to forgive them,we usually stew on it,worry over it,fret about it,feel sorry for ourselves and get angry with them. Sometimes it begins to affect our ability to function properly. And it may take a long time to heal. Think about that the next time you are tempted to share some juicy tidbit about someone. Would you want that told about you,even if it were true?