Gossip is destructive and irreversible…

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Faith & Reflection

A North Dakota mother hadn’t been well since the birth of her second baby, but everyone knew that she did all she could to be a good mother and wife. Neighbours said that she would greet her husband at the door every evening with a warm embrace. In the summer the sounds of a happy family were heard through their open windows.

However, a town gossip spread a malicious rumour that the man was having an affair. The lie was passed on by others, and eventually came back to the wife. It was more than she could bear. One evening the husband returned home to a deathly silence and his wife didn’t meet him at the door. She had taken her own life and the lives of their two young children. His innocence was proven to all, but the gossip had already done its destructive, irreversible work.

Gossip is idle talk or rumors, especially about the personal and private affairs of others. It is usually comprised of faulty, non-factual information, deliberate fabrications and/or half-truths. It is typically passed on with the intent to harm and is always done behind the back of the subjects.

Gossip is common and most if not all have been tempted to and or been involved in it. It is tantalizing to engage in this practice; it is just so tempting to be able to discover and then pass along some “juicy” news.

The Bible (most notably the book of Proverbs) has much to say about gossip and none of it is good. The negativity and meanness of gossip becomes a part of us. Proverbs 18:8 warns, “Rumours are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart.”

Proverbs 16:28 explains the divisive nature of gossip stating, “…gossip separates the best of friends.”

The pain that gossip can cause is graphically revealed in Proverbs 25:18 where we read, “Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an axe, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow.”

Apparently the more we talk the greater the risk of gossiping. “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much” (Proverbs 20:19).

Is there anything we can do to deal with this problem in our lives? A good start would incorporate both a practice and a prayer. The practice is, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD…” (Psalm 19:14).

The prayer is found in Psalm 141:13 and says, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”

“Gossip is what no one claims to like, but everybody enjoys.” Joseph Conrad

— Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.

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