We’ve all gotten that phone call…..whether it be early in the morning, late at night, or on our lunch break at work. “GIRRRRRRRRRL, let me tell you………,” the voice on the other end of the line says. If you’re a guy it might sound like, “Maaaaaaan, check this out…..,”
Or maybe that’s NOT how it starts. Maybe you’re in the middle of talking about something totally unrelated and then the voice on the other end says, “Oh, that reminds me, did you hear about _______?” or “Did you that know that such and such did ____________?”.
Huh? Oh, you don’t know that voice? Well, maybe the voice is you. (OUCH) lol
Most of the conversations that follow this pattern can be given a name. Many people in my generation call these conversations “tea” or the “inside scoop” but scripture simply calls it “gossip” and many times throughout the Bible we learn that God isn’t fond of it.
It’s very easy in today’s society to get caught up in who did what with whom, who got what and how, and so forth. Social media grants us access to what’s going on in people’s lives nearly every moment of everyday. Also, technology has made it so easy to connect with people that maybe we wouldn’t have interacted with many years, decades, and centuries ago (I mean, would you really know what that classmate from middle school was up to if it wasn’t for social media?). You have to remember, that in the time of our Lord Jesus Christ, people lived in villages and there was no transportation system like there is now. And there definitely wasn’t a such thing as a telephone and what we know today as the internet.
Even without all these inventions, God knew that there were some people in their respective communities being nosey, speaking ill of their neighbors, spreading rumors—– gossiping. So what exactly does the Bible say about gossip?
We see in Ephesians 4:29, the instructions “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”. Life is tough enough. We all have separate and different battles to fight day in and day out. The Lord knew that discussion of these battles (with ill intent) was unwholesome and He wanted it to end. Notice that the scripture is specific that talk such as this that is NOT helpful in building people up is what is unwholesome.
Now there is an exception of discussing other people’s business. Understand this example: if someone has lost their job and you’re discussing their situation to someone for the purpose of helping them seek employment or get them connected with someone who can, then that talk may not be deemed as unwholesome. You’re actually trying to help a person—– you’re trying to “build them up”.
I’ve heard it many times that some of the biggest gossipers are in the church. (OUCH!). That saddens me because the church is supposed to be a place that welcomes and lifts up the broken, the confused, the distressed, and the lost. How can the church be a safe space for these individuals if they feel as though they will be judged and gossiped about if and when they enter? (James 4:11) This is why it is so important that we obey what is written in James 1:26 and “keep a tight rein” on our tongues.
A “tight rein” equals control. If we love God, have good intentions, and have control over our mouth then wholesome words meant to uplift each other will come out. “For it is not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” (Matthew 15:11)
So let us be more mindful of how we judge others and the words we allow to come out when speaking of our neighbors and our neighbor’s business. The intentions of our hearts are being watched carefully. Let our words, which are manifestations of what’s on our minds and hearts, be kind and gentle “full of grace, and seasoned with salt” just as Colossians 4:6 commands. (Read more about gentleness in the post, “Handle With Care: Practicing Gentleness as Christians”)
May your eyes, your head, and your spirit always be LIFTED.
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