Be CAREFUL not to ‘GOSSIP’ about OTHERS: "Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases." (Prov. 26:20)
The Bible has strong words to describe the effect of spoken words. Apostle James has described it in the following graphic language: "Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell." (James 3:5-6) The words that are formed by our tongues and spills out of our lips are deadly and set up a whole world on fire!
Our tongues can be used to bless and comfort others or, our tongues can be misused to defame and destroy people and families. When we gossip, we whisper to others matters that are damaging about someone who is not present to defend his/her words or action. The book of Proverbs has many things to say about people who gossip:
- They cannot be trusted (11:13)
- They should be avoided (20:19)
- They separate the closest of friends (16:28)
- They keep relational strife boiling (18:8)
- They pour fuel on the coals of conflict and feed the flames of hurt and misunderstanding (26:21-22)
Just as fuel feeds a fire, so gossip feeds trouble. People who are bent to aggravate trouble and cause friction will continually gossip and spread lies about others. Some years ago the following appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the leading newspaper of Atlanta, GA, USA:
"I am more deadly than the screaming shell of a howitzer. I win without killing. I tear down homes, break hearts, and wreck lives. I travel on the wings of the wind. No innocence is strong enough to intimidate me, no purity pure enough to daunt me. I have no regard for truth, no respect for justice, no mercy for the defenseless. My victims are as numerous as the sands of the sea, and often as innocent. I never forget and seldom forgive. My name is Gossip!"
Let us be careful not to gossip about others, but always remember what Jesus has warned us: "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matt 12:36-37).