This summer we have been considering some of the topics covered in the book of Proverbs. So far we have thought about humility and pride. This week we will consider a specific aspect of our speech. Speech is a frequent topic in Proverbs and one we will come back to as we continue on in our series.
Carefully read this verse:
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler. Proverbs 20:19
In a recent meeting, I asked for three volunteers to share something about themselves that most of us in the group don’t know. I told them it doesn’t have to be big or earth shattering. For example, I could tell them that brussel sprouts and cabbage are two of my favorite veggies. I could tell them that eating some raw fruit makes me gag. (It’s been that way since I was a child. Bananas and apples make me gag!) I gave the three volunteers an index card and a pen and asked them to write down their information. Then, with their permission, I shared contents of their cards one by one with the group. We smiled and enjoyed getting to know each other better, but I had a serious thought behind that activity. I asked the group, “What are you going to do now with this information?
The reason I asked that question was because over the previous weekend I caught myself talking to someone about somebody else. I wondered, “Is the line between gossip and casual conversation always black and white?”
Let’s define gossip. WordHippo.com defines gossip as “a casual or unconstrained conversation or report about other people; a person who likes talking about other people's private lives”. It’s sharing information about another person. If you are listening to someone sharing these kinds of details, you may wonder, “Why you are sharing that information?” Let me add to that definition: Gossip is defined by the content of what’s being shared and by the motives of the person sharing. I believe that gossip is a form of pride. Gossip is elevating yourself over others.
Listen for the word gossip in this passage and see what else is listed with the word gossip:
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Romans 1:29-31
As I close, let me be very practical with you. Gossip can destroy relationships. A way to test yourself before you speak is to ask, “Would I say it if the person were standing right here?” And if someone is sharing information with you that is personal or private and you feel that it may be gossip, gently confront the person by changing the subject.