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One-a-Day...for the Heart: Stop Talking

     You've seen them...standing in an office corner or a restroom or perhaps an empty hallway outside a classroom, hands cupped over their mouths, hushed voices, averting eye contact. The whisperers are at it again, and judging by their abrupt silence and smirky smiles as you walk by, they've just chewed on a tasty morsel of gossip that you are not privy to today. Would you even want to know? Think long and hard before you answer. Gossip is tempting but deadly, for the power of death and life are in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).

     Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29). Gossip is a dangerous sin that God feels very strongly about because it erodes relationships, tarnishes Christian character, and causes division in the Body of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 12:20, Paul writes, For I fear that perhaps when I come, I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 

     “Gossip” in that text comes from the Greek word for “whisperer,” hence the cupped hand over the mouth and the hushed whispering when a gossiper repeats a matter to a sympathetic hearer. Pastor Mark Mitchell, in his book Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue, defines gossip as “bearing bad news behind someone's back, out of a bad heart." Let's face it: we've all gossiped. It's time to stop.

     The word also means “secret slandering”. In the New Testament, the title of Satan is “devil,” and it means “a slanderer”. The ugly truth is that whether you gossip or listen to it, you are behaving as Satan does—slandering, spreading untruths, and idle talk. In so doing, you are representing him. That grieves God's heart. The verse cited earlier in Ephesians 4:29 continues, and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (verse 30).

     What is so appealing about gossip? The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts (Proverbs 20:19 NIV). Jeremiah tells us that our hearts are desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT). Although it's hard to admit, sometimes we enjoy a good, juicy story about someone—especially if we don't like them. The tidbit of gossip may taste sweet, but it's like poison once ingested.

     Here are a few effects of gossiping, as revealed in Scripture:

           1. Proverbs 20:19 (NIV)--A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.

2. Proverbs 16:28--A perverse person spreads strife, and a slanderer separates close friends.

3. Proverbs 11:13 (NLT)--A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.

     The Word of God provides the antidote for gossiping. Simply keeping quiet unless it's necessary to speak is an excellent safeguard against foolish, idle talk and gossip. Proverbs 21:23 (NLT) says watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble. The NIV Bible says those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves out of calamity (disastrous events, lasting distress, suffering).

     Finally, the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12 (NLT) is Christ's standard for our behavior. Jesus said, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” We reap what we sow, and if we refrain from gossip and idle talk, but instead pursue peace with others, the gossipers and busybodies will have to look elsewhere for their subject matter!

© 2024, Chris Custer Werre

(For more study on this subject, read Does Your Tongue Need Healing? by Derek Prince.)    

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