Monday, September 6, 2010

The Wide World of Gossip

We do certainly live in an information age.  From 24 hour news channels to websites giving every detail on the lives of celebrities to Facebook and the information we provide about ourselves in other.  Gossip has become so entrenched in our lives and culture that I think we do not even realize it.  But what does the Bible say about gossip:
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;  being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32 NKJV (Emphasis added) 
Whisperers here means those who gossip.  We see here that in God's eyes, it is a sin deserving of death.  Those who think gossip is some kind of minor sin, keep that in mind.  Remember, while the world makes some sins worse than others, in God's eyes all sin is bad and all deserves the penalty of death.  Gossip is no different.  Gossip is a wicked filthy sin hated by God.

We now know that gossip is a sin, but what is gossip?  Here is what the Word says:
A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter. Proverbs 11:13 NKJV
He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.   Proverbs 20:19 NKJV
Gossip is simply revealing secrets about another.  It is something we do to bring other people lower or to raise ourselves up.  If brings others lower by spreading truth or lies about that person what others had no business knowing.  It raises you up because you are spreading bad things about another with the implication (purposeful or not) that you are above whatever it is is that is secret in their lives.  It also raises you up as one who knows things that others don't.  It makes you seem privy to information that others do not have access to and gives you the power to spread that information as you decide.  The problem is that God has already made the decision and His was to not spread information that others have no business knowing.  I know the "righteous" excuse for gossip in that you were trying to find advice on how to minister to someone or wanted to pray with someone.  The Bible makes so such provision.  It is still not your business to spread secret information about others, even if you believe the motivation is pure.  If you can not handle what you may learn about others then do not allow yourself to be a confidant.  While that takes some swallowing of pride, it is the righteous thing to do.  There is no right reason for gossip.

What is the result of gossip?  The Bible again gives us guidance:
A perverse man sows strife, And a whisperer separates the best of friends. Proverbs 16:28 NKJV
Gossip breaks relationships.  That makes perfect sense when the very definition is to betray someone's trust.  While the betrayed is called to forgive, that trust would still need to be reestablished. Breaking relationships stirs up strife and controversy in a fellowship.  We also learned earlier in the passage from Romans that gossip is the product of a wicked and corrupt mind.  When you have people acting in a corrupt wicked way, causing strife and contention in the fellow of believers, you have a serious problem.  How does God feel about those who sow strife in a fellowship?
These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.  Proverbs 6:16-19 NKJV
Sowing discord among the brethren is one of the top things that God hates.  And you thought gossip was a minor sin?

Gossip is also dishonest.  When you imply that someone can trust you only to break that trust you are being dishonest.  Gossip is also theft.  When you glean information on another person that you may be privy to and spread that information for your own purposes that is stealing.  Gossip also stirs up envy.  Those receiving gossip are envious of the "secret" information the other possesses.  If the gossip you spread is not truthful (or if it is embellished in any way) it is also bearing false witness against your neighbor.  So not only gossip one of the 7 specific things mentioned that the Lord hates, but it violates 4 of the 10 commandments.  Gossip is wicked and evil plain and simple. 

If gossip is so wicked and evil, why does the world and and even us get caught up into it?  Here is the the Word says:
The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, And they go down into the inmost body. Proverbs 18:18 NKJV
Gossip is like tasty trifles.  They play on our pride in that we feel empowered when somehow we are privy to secret information.  We feel like we are part of a special group that knows things that others do not. We love to learn secrets because it makes us feel more important and gives us the advantage over others.  Secrets are sweet tasty morsels that seem irresistible, but they are poison for the fellowship of God.  What we see as candy, God sees as putrid filth.  

The world is obsessed with gossip.  Just look at how much of the "real" news is filled with celebrity gossip.  Look at how many shows, magazines, and websites are specifically dedicated to celebrity gossip.  I have news for you: In God's eyes, there is no difference between celebrity gossip and gossip about our friends.  You have no business knowing who Miley Cyrus is dating or the marital issues of Tiger Woods.  And you have no business sharing, celebrating, or approving of that information being spread.  Allowing or endorsing gossip is a sign of loving gossip and, being that it is sin, we are called to hate it.  Provers 20:19 that we ready earlier tells us to have nothing to do with such a one who spreads gossip.

Hating gossip means now allowing someone to share secrets about someone else with you and correcting that person in love.  Accepting gossip is approving of gossip.  Approving of gossip is approving of sin.  Hating gossip means finding no excuse for it, especially the false righteousness of asking for prayer or how to minister. There is no such thing as as good motive for gossip and if you think you are doing it for good reasons, you are deceiving yourself.  Gossip is a sin and one that needs to be hated and rejected and one where we need to keep ourselves separate from. 

Gossip is spreading secrets about others that others have no business in knowing It blesses no one and causes strife, envy, anger, sin, pride, hurt, breaking of relationships, and puts a stumbling block on front of others.  It is sin and should be hated, rejected, and confronted by us.  Gossip is cyanide wrapped in caramel.  It tastes sweet going down but it is poison to our walks with God and our fellowship with others.  Let us truly live as brothers and sisters in the Lord where we are to bear the burdens of one another, not spread them around.  Let's lift each other up and not climb up the social ladder of knives we stab into the backs our our own brothers.
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-32 NKJV

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