Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Many years ago I attended the same church as an engaging young wife and mother. She was friendly, hospitable and outgoing, but I quickly learned when rumors were moving through the congregation, she was frequently the one supplying the AA batteries to keep them going.

One day she telephoned to see what news she could pick up to pass around, and I told her, “Gossip (not her real name, of course), you are going to hear this sooner or later, so you might as well hear it from me so you have the facts straight.”

Less than ten minutes later, another woman from church called. “Oh, Jan, I’m so sorry. You must be devastated. Are you okay?”

I was baffled. “I’m sorry. What are you talking about?”

“Gossip called. She told me all about what happened and asked me to pray for you. Is there anything I can do to help?”

Aha! I told Gossip something true and too tempting to keep to herself, knowing she would repeat what I told her, but I was stunned at how quickly she was spreading it around – and as a prayer request, no less.

“What did Gossip tell you? I asked innocently.

I was speechless at the story given to her. It was somewhat like the parlor game where one person whispers something to the next person, who then whispers it to the next person, and the last person in the group repeats it out loud to everyone, only it does not sound much like the original statement. Gossip just skipped the person to person jumble and scrambled it herself. I wish I could state she learned something from getting caught red-handed, but unfortunately Gossip continued spreading rumors, even after she eventually wandered away from the church. How many others heard this same “prayer request” and took it to heart?

I have noticed over the years that gossip frequently is presented in the same guise, as if calling it a prayer request makes it all right to break a confidence or to reveal details of another’s life without permission. There is no such virtue as “righteous gossip” in the Bible. Instead, gossip – allowing your tongue to take control of your mind and permitting it to run unbridled with someone else’s confidence – is revealed as sin.

James 1:26 is enlightening. If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. (NKJV)

Gossip is not “victimless” and learning to control the tongue is not an overnight victory. It is a lifetime battle. I have lost many a skirmish, as I know you have. (Remember, lying is also a sin.) It is imperative you and I struggle onward against it.

Paul writes to the Corinthian church, For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there might be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. (2 Corinthians 12:20 NIV)

For those who make New Year’s resolutions, perhaps this will be the year you add gossip to your list of established habits you desire to break.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jan,

Blogging by to catch up with my reading of Mercy and Percy.

I will start here and move backwards :)

It really is amazing, how big a fire, the tongue can create, it is something that we have all done at one time or another and indeed, we would be lying if we say we haven't.

Whoever said, "stick and stones may brake my bones, but words will never hurt me." did not know what they were talking about. Words hurt deeply and leave wounds that take a long time to heal because they cut into the very heart of a person.

Indeed it is a lifetime battle but a battle that can be won, one day at a time!

Thank you my friend, for the reminder, that we need to submit our tongue, our words, to the Lord, so we can learn to speak words that will lift up, encourage and build others up.

Writing for the King,