Monday, February 17, 2014

Getting to the Heart of Gossip

I have a confession to make. A few weeks ago, I made an assumption about someone I know. I then shared that assumption with my husband. Last week, I realized that my assumption may not have been so accurate. I asked God to forgive me, as well as let my husband know that I may be wrong and that it was wrong of me to jump to conclusions. But it got me to thinking.... was making an assumption the only thing that I did wrong here, or is there something more?

When most of us think about gossip, we picture women maliciously whispering, spreading around juicy secrets or even flat-out lies. Unless we are one of these people who can't keep our mouth shut and just love to talk about other people's lives (and especially their misfortunes), then we usually don't consider ourselves gossipers. I never have considered myself one. I try my best to keep my nose out of other people's business and I respect the secrets that my friends have shared with me. But I think there is more to it than that.  I think that we have made exceptions the the rule of gossip in order to justify our human tendencies to be blabbermouths. 

"Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered" (Proverbs 11:13) This verse is about gossip, and that was exactly what I was doing, even if I wasn't willing to admit it at first. Whether it is a secret that has been shared with you, something you saw, heard or discovered, or even a conclusion you jumped to all on your own about something; when you share that with anyone else, knowing that you wouldn't be sharing it if the person who was the subject of the discussion was present, then it is gossip.

If we were to actually make a written ammendment to that verse in Proverbs that would reflect our views on gossip, I think it might read something like this:

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.... unless you are just sharing it with your husband, because after all, you two are one. Or if you are venting to your mom about someone that did you wrong, I mean....she's your mom. Or if the secret you are keeping is just driving you nuts and you HAVE to tell somebody so that you don't explode. No one would want you to explode. Lastly, it's not necessary to keep a thing covered when you are in the company of your prayer group....sharing secrets with them will just mean more prayers for your troubled friend!
We do a pretty good job of covering our sins don't we? We can even make them look all nice and spiritual. But sin is sin. Gossip is gossip, no matter who we are talking to or for what purpose. Now I know that there are always exceptions to the rule, for instance, when someone's safety is concerned. But even in those cases, have you confronted the person directly with your concern for them first? Are you going directly to a source of help for this person? Or are you just chatting about it with your mutual friends? We need to think and pray on these things hard.

"To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people" (Titus 3:2). Let us pray daily and ask God to help us keep our big blabbermouths shut!
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