Beware of Gossip

636699511480249780-636615629448888954-GettyImages-690656936I heard a message the other day, preached by my mentor, Vasile Filat. It really touched my heart and I decided to translate it here in written form. The word that is translated into English as gossip, in the New Testament, is the Greek word “psithurismos“. It is derived from the verb “to whisper“. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word is “ragan“. In some English translations, it is translated as “whisperer“. It’s roots go back to the grumbling and murmuring that the children of Israel did when they were wandering in the wilderness. It means to talk bad about someone, especially when they are not there to defend themselves or the accusations that you make. It causes another person to form a negative opinion about the person you talk about. This is something that is appealing to our sin nature. Little children do this without being taught what it is or how to do it. It’s in us from birth.

The words of a whisperer (grumbler/murmurer)  are like dainty morsels, And they go down into the innermost parts of the body. (Proverbs 18:8)

Look at how gossip is presented here. Gossip is presented as a dainty morsel. Gossip is something that is appealing to us the way that sweets are appealing to children. When you listen to gossip, those words get in your mind and they will impact you in a very negative way. It seems innocent to listen to gossip. The words of a gossip do not sound like a deadly poison. It sounds right to you.

20 For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer, contention (to judge) quiets down.

21 Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife.

22 The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, And they go down into the innermost parts of the body (Proverbs 26)

But, once ingested, gossip leads to contention. You prejudge others based on false information and from incorrect opinions about them. The wise thing to do is not to listen to gossip. If you hear gossip, let it end with you. Remove the wood and the fire goes out. Don’t listen to or spread gossip and the contention quiets down.

When you hear something about a person who is not there to defend himself or herself, instead of listening to that information and passing it along, go to the person being gossiped about and ask for their side of the story. If someone tries to gossip to you about another, shut it down immediately. Confront the gossiper for what they are doing. They will either stop gossiping or, they will stop trying to gossip to you. Either way, you are protecting yourself and removing yourself from the contention.

There is an example in the Bible of a man named Absalom. He was a son of King David. Absalom wanted to be king and he created an uprising among the people. It started out innocently.

2 Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way to the gate; and when any man had a suit to come to the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And he would say, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.”
3 Then Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but no man listens to you on the part of the king.”
4 Moreover, Absalom would say, “Oh that one would appoint me judge in the land, then every man who has any suit or cause could come to me and I would give him justice.”
5 And when a man came near to prostrate himself before him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him.
6 In this manner Absalom dealt with all Israel who came to the king for judgment; so Absalom stole away the hearts of the men of Israel. (II Samuel 15)

Did you notice what Absalom was doing? He would meet with anyone who would listen and say things about the leadership of the land that were not true. This is gossip. The people were ready and willing to listen. The words of Absalom were like sweets to a little kid. This influenced the people in a very negative way. They began to form negative opinions about their leadership based on false information. This gossip led to a civil war in the land. Gossip seems innocent yet, it always leads to contention among people. While serving in ministry over the past 20 years, I have seen this scenario played out over and over in church after church. One person does not like something that the leadership of the church does. Instead of going to the leadership and talking to them about it, they go to other members of the church and talk about the leadership. As the discussions spread, which they always do, contention breaks out in the church. One group forms against another. Instead of talking to each other, both sides begin talking about each other. The damage can be devastating. Churches split. Families quit speaking to each other. Have you seen this happen before? Did you take part in it? We have a tendency to justify our actions by shifting the blame to the other party. I know gossip is wrong but I’m not gossiping. I’m just honest and straightforward. If you are not being “honest” and “straightforward” with the other party, and instead, you are being “honest” and “straightforward” with others about the other party, then that is pure gossip. Here is an example, “did you hear what so and so said?” or “did you see what so and so posted on social media?” If someone tries to do this with you, remind the gossiper that he or she should go and speak to so and so about the situation, not you.

Are you a person who takes part in gossip? Do you listen to gossip greedily like a kid in a candy shop? Are you a gossip? Gossip always produces drama so if you are a person who constantly lives from one drama situation to the next, you need to evaluate your discussions. Make gossip stop with you. Do not add wood to the fire. Confront those who try to gossip to you. This will change your attitude and will probably remove a lot of drama from your daily life.

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