"A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue' without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down." Proverbs 17:27-28; 26:20
The Bible is directing us to restrain our speech and a wise person controls their tongue, that is what we say and how we say it. The Bible goes on to say that people that spread the gossip have malicious intentions as much as the people who start the gossip in the first place. That this malice leads to destruction of property and persons, just as bad as a fire, would destroy a home or even a church.
The important lesson we must learn is the church is not a building, but the people of God who just use the building to meet in. Too many churches think the building is the most important thing of God, and miss the point of what it is for and of it's use.
When our focus is to get mean with each other and find fault with each other, all we accomplish is the shooting of ourselves. As Christians we all are partakers and participants of the body of Christ, so we're just shooting parts of our own body. What they're doing is taking something Holy of God, such as using prayer to spread gossip, thus we turn prayer into slander and misinformation for very un-holy agenda. This belittlement, embarrassment, hatefulness, harassment, vexation, obnoxiousness, offensiveness, un-inviting, annoying, burdensome, upsetting, tormenting, and just plain nasty behavior that does not belong in the body of Christ, and certainly does nothing to further the Kingdom of God.
Gossip has three breeds to it, or three different levels. Separating these three levels can be as hard as separating the chocolate chips out of the cookie. It is extremely hard to do with out disturbing the cookie! So it is with our mislaid words.
First: Is the "chit chat" we all do. "Did you hear that the Chaedwicks are moving" or "Steve 's parents gave him a new car for ground hog day". This is basic information without harmful intent, which we must be careful what we say and how we say it!
Second: Gets stickier; "Did you hear that Debby's parents are fighting again" or "Have you heard that Kevin is in a real bad mood, so just ignore him". This may not be mean or vindictive, but this tells a story of someone's character that may not be true. And we will base our judgments on false and misleading information.
Third: Is slander! Maliciously telling or repeating a tale that may or not be true, to tear someone down. "Do not go near Patty, she is weird and nobody likes her" or "The new kid is only here because he got kicked out of Redwood and his parents have lots of money". This third level of gossip destroys people's reputations and betrays secrets that are not meant for our ears. This level prevents friendships and takes potential good relations and destroys them, doing exactly what Satan wants!
This third level is slander, and God hates it! Webster's Dictionary tells us slander is, "the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage reputations. This may be viewed, as ordinary conversations during lunch, but make no mistake; slander seeks to distort and to destroy! It tears down the people of God, where our call is to build them up!
Prayer is in the business of building our relationship up with God, and uplifting each other up to further God's kingdom. Yes, we are to bring requests from each other before God, this is intercession, an important aspect of prayer and community building. What prayer is not, is a place to share information that no one else needs to know. We do not need to share personal matters unless the person we're sharing about has agreed for this to happen.
Breaking confidentiality to people who do not have the right to know is very dangerous and destructive. As is bringing slanderous accusations without facts or verification to back it up and especially not going through the process of Matthew eighteen. Some Christians are very careful not to divulge confidentiality but instead will let loose just enough information to leave an impression, which may not be true.
Especially when it comes to someone else's character, such as, "let's pray for John because he keeps getting bad grades and no one likes him." With just that little bit of information, no one knows the reasons why John gets bad grades, perhaps it's illness, perhaps he has a learning disability, or a poor home life, it can be many reasons besides that John may be stupid or not have the necessary skills. Even if it is a skills or IQ problem it's up to the body of Christ to help John with the skills necessary for life. Were called to build each other up, not to tear each other down.
Read Ephesians 4:29-32:
1. What does God call us to do in this passage?
2. How do you feel about this statement?
a. When we gossip, when we hear something and turn around and repeat it without knowing its validity: How have you done this? What can you do to stop this?
b. How are you being malicious and have no concern for the truth?
c. Do you realize that when we have no concern for the truth, then you have no concern for the Lord, who is a God of truth!?
3. Does your tongue itch to tell a tale, is it your desire to listen to the latest gossip and repeat it, or even elaborate on it?
4. How do you think people gossiped about feel about it?
5. How do you think God feels?
6. Read Matthew 5:9: What does this passage have to do with gossip?
7. Ralph cornered James in the hall. "Have you heard about Renea and Jim? They have been, well you know....can you believe it?
8. What would you do if you were Ralph?
9. What would you do if you were Renea or Jim?
10. Can you think of similar examples without using names?
11. Can you think of examples for each of the three levels?
Let us watch our mouths!
© Copyright 1992, 2000, Rev. Richard Joseph Krejcir, Into Thy Word