In my last devotion I talked about gossip. As a review, Webster defines gossip as ”easy, fluent, trivial talk, talk about people behind their backs.” It is repeating information about another person’s private affairs. If you have to look around to make sure that no one can hear what you are saying, you are probably gossiping. If you would not say something in front of the person you are talking about, then you’re probably gossiping.
But it takes two to tango the gossip dance. “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down: (Proverbs 26:20). The Bible tells us to make every effort to avoid gossipers (Proverbs 21:19, 20:19). A good rule of thumb is if you are not part of the problem or part of the solution, then keep the information to yourself.
Paul warned, “Some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and wasting time meddling in other people’s business,” (2 Thessalonians 3:11 NLT). Other translations call such people “busybodies,” (NAS, NIV). And listen, putting the words, “we need to pray for so-and-so” before the gossip doesn’t make the gossip any less gossip.
One day a woman felt overwhelmed with guilt over her years of malicious gossip. She went to the local priest and confessed her sin. The priest was all too aware of her wagging tongue and had experienced the sting of her words first hand….or rather second hand.
What can I do to rectify all the damage I have caused with my gossip?” she asked.
“Gather a bag of feathers,” he began. “Then go around to each house and place a feather at their door.”
That seemed like a simple enough request, so the woman did just as the priest had instructed. After the task was complete, she returned. “I have done what you requested,” she said. “Now what am I to do?”
“Now go back and retrieve each of the feathers,” he replied.
“That is impossible,” the woman argued. “The wind will have blown them all around town by now.”
“Exactly,” replied the wise priest. “Once you have spoken an ill word, it drifts through the air on wings of gossip, never to be retrieved. God has forgiven you, as you have asked. But I cannot remove the consequences of your hurtful words or gather them from the places they have landed.”
Here’s an idea. If a friend approaches you with some “news” or a “concern” about another person, stop and ask, “May I quote you on what you’re about to tell me?” That will usually “put a lid” on the conversation before it even begins.
In my last devotion, I asked if you would be willing to make your life a NO GOSSIP ZONE. I just thought we might need to ask that question one more time.