Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Tongues That Wag.

There are some sins that seem so innocent, but really are not. Christians have lists of the big sins, the ones that you better not be caught doing. But gossip is one that can slide in under the rug. After all, there are so many magazines in the supermarket devoted mainly to gossip. We can have this curiosity about what is going on in other people’s lives. And this is something that it is very easy to slip into. We can use various excuses. We are just sharing prayer requests or expressing concern, and it can become an excuse to gossip. But what does God really think of this?

Gossip is something that stirs up strife and dissension (Proverbs 16:28; 26:20). And stirring up strife and dissension is one of the things God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19; 20:3; 26:17). We pass something along, and it results in alienating people from one another and ends up in fights and divisions. And this can happen even if it was not our intent. We say something to pass along a good story or to satisfy people’s curiosity, and it ends up going to someone who is hurt or angered by it. It also can have a negative effect on us (Proverbs 18:8; 26:22). At best, it can give us a negative outlook on life. At worst, we can become hurt or angry, possibly over something that is not even true or is blown out of proportion. And if we find that someone is prone to gossip, we find we cannot tell them anything for fear they will spread it all over (Proverbs 11:13; 20:19). And we need to be able to trust each other. How can we encourage one another if we do not to dare to admit anything to each other for  fear it will be passed on (James 5:16; Hebrews 10:24,25; Galatians 6:2)? 

Often, what is passed on is false and a lie (Exodus 20:16; Proverbs 10:18; 12:19-22), or at the very least  it is one-sided (Proverbs 18:17; 25:8-10). Even if what is being said is true, that is not the way to deal with it. There is a point where love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8; Proverbs 10:12). But if there is something that needs to be corrected, it should be done by confronting the person directly (Matthew 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1; Jude 22,23). However, spreading things around to other people can end up ruining the reputation of a person , often a person who does not deserve it. Even if a person is genuinely guilty, it can be a roadblock to repentance and reconciliation.
Now God forgives sin (1 John 1:9; Proverbs 28:13; Romans 8:33,34). And we need to turn to Him for power to overcome our sinful tendencies (2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:16; Philippians 2:13). But we need to recognize gossip as not just a minor peccadillo, but a serious sin that we need to deal with.

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