“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.”
Gossip is a disease commonly found everywhere, and the church is no exception. In fact, it is a deadly disease that causes much damage in the Body of Christ. Gossip spreads distorted truths, twisted facts, fabricated lies and exaggerated information. Although often spoken in private, it travels fast across borders and further than intended. Social networking and advanced communication technology have opened wide the doors to allow anyone to take part in gossip, and identifying the source is difficult. Once gossip is uttered, it can get out of hand and cause a lot of shame and guilt.
The devil is the root cause of gossip and it is his technique to destroy us. Scripture contains many warnings. Our churches and missions suffer because of people who gossip – otherwise known as gossips. For instance, Diotrephes, a troublemaker in the church, was “spreading malicious nonsense” about John (3 John 1:10). In Romans 1:29, the apostle Paul includes gossips in the list of the wicked. God’s children are not spared from gossip. We often fall prey to it unconsciously, not realising its subtle nature and negative impact.
Gossip normally begins in a healthy conversation, slowly picks up momentum and enters into vain talk. And when the conversation is about a person we do not like, we slip into gossip. Unprofitable conversation and idle talk will lead to gossip too. “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” (Proverbs 10:19)
I have seen people enjoying gossip and others who are keen to listen to gossip, knowing that there is no truth. “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.” (Proverbs 18:8) What is said in a meeting quickly goes into WhatsApp with added or twisted details.
Gossip slanders others, betrays fellow believers and breaks friendships. “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.” (Proverbs 16:28) It brings division into fellowships as it breaks confidentiality and trust among believers for “[a] gossip betrays a confidence…” (Proverbs 11:13) It is like fuel that intensifies a burning fire: “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” (Proverbs 26:20)
Friends, this little fox can destroy a whole fruitful vineyard. If gossip produces such damage amongst us, we need to guard against this evil. As God’s people, we need to watch over our spoken words and motives. “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3) Let us also deliberately dissociate ourselves from gossips.
We have a powerful truth to proclaim. The Psalmist rightly prayed, “Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.” (Psalm 51:15) Verbal communication is powerful and can be constructive. Instead of gossiping, we should pray: “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)
If you want to gossip, “gossip” the Gospel!
The Rev R. Prabhu was elected President of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC) in 2012 for the quadrennium. He is also Pastor-in-Charge of Ang Mo Kio Tamil and Seletar Tamil Methodist Churches.